Helicopters Hovering ha ha ha

3 Feb

A little Logic and Love goes a long way

On a beautiful San Diego day, that also happens to be “Free Tuesday” at Balboa Park, I opted to take the boys to see a couple of museums.  If asked which to see Rockford will answer in a heartbeat, “Railroad Museum to see trains!” Actually it’s the Model Railroad Museum but he couldn’t care less what it’s called. He knows there are trains there and that’s that. 

We first visited the Natural History Museum because I thought he’d appreciate the “LIVE Lizards and Snakes exhibit” they have, but they were small in size and not really “aLIVE”. He was more interested with the enormous dinosaur fossils that took up the main entrance. “Wow look it that!” he kept calling out.  This mom could only take so much Dino-mania so off to the Model Railroad Museum we went.

Being familiar with the Model Railroad Museum we went ahead and followed the pseudo train tracks inside the museum. The kids play area was still close for construction, but they did place the train set tables in different locations within the museum. We came across the first train set table and it was here I encountered what is referred to as a “Hovering Mom”.  Unlike the “Mama Bear“, who seeks to protect her young from danger and the injustices, the “hovering mom” is almost a micromanager that hovers over her child and makes almost every decision for him/her (I remember reading about this in a Parents magazine article). Well at least that is my interpretation of it. What I saw was a mom standing over either one of her two sons at any given moment (two boys ages 2 and 3 years). “Give him the train”, “that’s not yours”, ‘Sorry sweetie he was playing with it first” ,”put it on this track and push it like this, no not like that like this,” etcetera you get the point. All the while Rockford is maneuvering his way around trying to find a little train to play with along side her boys. I stood a couple of feet away trying to entertain Rocco, but keeping a loose eye on Rockford.  At one point Rockford took one of the trains  from her son’s hand and the boy at once started crying and looked to his mom for help. She immediately came to his rescue and asked Rockford to give the toy back to her son because he had it first. I just stood there pretending not to notice. After a while, I told Rockford it was time to keep making our way around the rest of museum, with a little reluctance, he complied.

A couple of halls later we came to another center of train set tables and lo and behold we encountered hovering mom #1 and a couple of more and even a hovering dad. Same drill, child wants a toy, parent gets it, child’s toy was taken away, parent retrieves it from afflicting child, child cries, parent consoles. I mean, is it just me or isnt’ it normal for kids to play like this, I mean minus the parents? Again, I kept my distance from where these tables were, but close enough to keep an eye on my son as I sadly watched these parents enabling their kids for total dependency.

But what do I know right? Actually I don’t. Like any mother I too have “instincts” that I let drive my actions sometimes and sometimes they can be wrong. I actually came home yesterday asking my husband, “I’ve never really thought of what I am supposed to do in these situations I just let Rockford go and keep an eye on him. Is that right or wrong?”  Here’s an example.

 We were at the park one day where Rockford was throwing sand at a couple of kids as they made their way down the slide. He sat at the bottom greeting them with a handful of sand. I saw this, but I also saw the kids semi-laughing with him so I did nothing. Later that day, the same kids greeted him at the sandbox with their own hands full of sand. Again, I did nothing. Rockford caught on pretty quick that they weren’t going to stop and he took off to another area to play. Eventually the kids left the playground. Looking back now I think, Why didn’t Rockford call me for help? Why didn’t he even look at me to make sure I saw what those boys were doing? Why didn’t he come running crying to me when that sand got in his eyes (I saw him wiping and blinking his eyes a lot)? Maybe, just maybe, my instincts were right.

I knew immediately I wanted to write about this and ask your opinion and feedback on this matter and what you do. I did come across a great book and a Wikipedia definition for “hovering mom” only they call it “helicopter parent.” It’s states, “The term ‘helicopter parents’ is an  expression for parents that has been widely used in the media.  It is a term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child’s or children’s experiences and problems. Foster W. Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay coined and defined “helicopter parents” very precisely in a section on “ineffective parenting styles” in their 1990 book Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility.”

I am really interested in reading this book cover to cover, but did cheat and read a couple of pages free on Amazon.com.  Here is the gist of Cline and Fay’s parenting philosophy, “How do we raise children who have their heads on straight and will have a good chance to make it in the big world? We must equip our darlings to make the move from total dependence on us to independence– from being controlled to controlling themselves.”  They go on to say that this philosophy benefits kids because at an early age they learn responsibility and the logic of life by solving their own problems. Thus they acquire the tools for coping with the real world.  So could there be truth to this, was it right of me to let Rockford handle his own matters? 

 Well a couple of weeks ago we were back at that same park. Rockford likes to take two of his little cars up the ladder with him and once up there he lets them go down the slides. He puts one car in each slide and I usually see them fly out of the tubular looking slides as they sometimes get lost in the sand. He then slides down himself and excitedly starts looking for his two cars. This time a little boy, about his age, picked up one of his cars and was looking for its owner. When Rockford saw the boy with toy in hand he immediately walked toward him with a stern look of “man in charge” and said “Hey, that’s my car”. The little boy complied and threw the car in the air towards Rockford and it landed a couple of feet in front of him. To this Rockford replied with his eyebrows scrunched, “NO, You don’t throw it at me, you dont’ throw it!”   The kid immediately clarified with, “I was GIVING it to you, I was GIVING it to you.” Rockford paused for a moment, with his chin up in the air as if examining the boy’s answer he then with a nod said, “Oh, ok.” Then they both went on their day…with no parents interference two boys handled their own problem.

In retrospect I can now see that by me not interfering in his “kid business” he eventually dealt with it himself. I am still figuring this motherhood thing myself so any words of wisdom, advise and remarks are wholeheartedly welcomed. Especially if you disagree 🙂

By the way, why that title for the post? This is actually a line from a song that teaches kids the sounds that  letters make. “Ha, Hovering Helicopters Ha Ha Ha…Ha is the sound of  ‘H’ ” The name of the song is “Ants on the Apple” and I give credit to it for helping Rockford learn his letter sounds this way. Check it out on You Tube it’s a great free tool.

2 Responses to “Helicopters Hovering ha ha ha”

  1. mommylili February 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    Funny that you write about this today. I was just asking myself that question yesterday. I was trying to figure out how my mothering style is categorized. I realized that a lot of it has to do with our own personality and upbringing. Experience plays a big role too.

    I remember when my girls were little, at the park, I would let them play on the slides and sit back and watch them, maybe read a book (looking at them often ofcourse) or talk with whoever may have come with us (adult). Ofcourse, by this time I had already scoped out the place (adults and children present, cars parked, any pets around, traffic, secured fence or not, weird looking people, etc…) Yes, I learned a lot from all the FBI shows and movies I love to watch…lol….

    Once, I was having a conversation with a friend. She kept leaving our conversation and running out to the slide to her kids. I would stay behind and just glance at mine. We would resume the conversation when she returned. After a while she said, “The kids wont let me enjoy this conversation! But look at you, you’re so calm and haven’t moved once from here. Doesn’t it worry you that they may get hurt?” I remember laughing out loud and saying, “Well if they do, they’ll learn not to do it again really fast. Besides, they like to show off their scars and bruises.” Later at home, when I was thinking about it, I kept wondering, This mom must think I don’t care about my kids, but that was just my parenting style.

    When Sophia was born, the nurse at the hospital told me something I’ve never forgotten. As she watched me care for my newborn she said, “I don’t think I have to explain much to you. You seem to know what you’re doing.” I asked her, “Why do say that?” She replied, “I’ve been watching you and noticed the way you feed her, change her diaper, dress her and hold her. You do it with such confidence. You must have experience.” Keep in mind I was only 24 and this was my firstborn. I laughed and said “I’m the eldest of 8, so I guess that does give you some experiece.”

    So, I think a lot of it is already built in us shaped by our growing environment, but we should never stop learning. There’s always room for improvement. My believe is not to interfear in playground politics, unless it becomes dangerous. Otherwise, instead of raising a child to think for himself, speak out for himself, we’ll be raising a bunch of whining tadle tales….how annoying is that???? LOL

    You’re doing great Rachell, keep it up. Love you =)

    • Training Up My Boys February 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

      Wow that is so great to hear. You bring up a good point that our personality and upbringing plays an instrumental role on parenting style. Thank you for sharing your experiences…and what you’ve learned from watching yoru FBI shows lol.

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