Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Don't Give a Flip What You Think of My Helicopter Parenting

Its been about a month now since my newsfeed lit up with links to "Helicopter Parenting" articles with my friends adding tags like, "This is the WORST" and "These parents make me crazy!". I pretty much thought, "don't care" and moved on. But since then this has been niggling in my brain and bugging me. So finally when Real Simple Magazine came out with the article, How, and Why to Stop Being Helicopter Parents, I decided to read it.

Now I've gone from "don't care" to "I care VERY much" and it's not that I'm angry per se, I'm frustrated.  You see, special needs parents have to be helicopter parents and this is just one more instance where we are left open to judgement and condemnation by the public who feels they get a say in how we raise our children.  It isn't enough to say, "well, its different for you, you are a special case" by those who know and love our children because not everyone does. The fact remains, in many cases our kids look very normal sitting in the sandbox at the park and I am the helicopter that is revolving around that box and you don't get to judge me because you don't know me or my child.

Would you rather I ignore him, have him mis-read a social situation and then haul off and smack your child?
Would you rather I have a conversation with you, pull my attention off of my child and then help me call 911 when I look up and he is no where to be found? (Do you NEED me to post every instance of child elopement from this summer alone? Sadly, there have been a lot and they haven't all ended well)
Does it bother you that I've sent snacks with my child because we've been implementing a dietary intervention 24/7 for the last 3 months to rule out food as cause for his constant stomach pain? Would you rather I send a list of things that he cannot eat and require that you adhere?
Does it make you feel like a better parent, chatting behind my back about how I called the school yet again to defend my child's actions because he was struggling one day? 

It has taken me 10 solid years to get to a point where I can ignore the stares and comments people make in my presence when my kids are having a tough time. On good days I can ignore them, on better days I can educate them, all other days I lash out at them and their ignorance.  But please, feel free America to hand them more ammunition. Go ahead and call me a Helicopter Parent, in time I will learn to let it bounce off of me like I have when I was called "over protective" and "overly worried".  My job is not to answer to you, my job is to keep my boys safe and healthy first and foremost and until they have learned the skills to do that on their own... I will continue to hover.

It is with frustration, not anger, that I send this blog out into the world. Frustration that so many people have latched on to this (not so) new parenting issue, that it has moved like wild fire across the internet and in doing so inadvertently ostracized entire swarms of parents world-wide who (for whatever reason) cannot or will not land their helicopter. This is not an issue of having a name for it, it is the issue of giving people free license to use it to judge or criticize someone else.

It hasn't been so long ago that mother's of children with Autism were called Refrigerator Mothers, the  idea that we caused our children to be Autistic because we didn't give them enough love and attention. Now we will be called "Helicopter Mothers" because of the opposite. I guess its just too much to hope that one day we will just be called "Mothers"

There are tons of articles floating around about this Helicopter Parenting stuff but I've chosen to only read the one Real Simple article and I want to state that I'm not angry at Real Simple, I am a subscriber and I will continue to be one. I don't consider the article to bad reporting because I am (again) a minority parent and they cannot write every article to take into consideration every single person.  In fact, Real Simple has done a few very good (and emotional) articles on Autism:

Portraits of Love: How One Father Captured the Essence of His Autistic Son

I Don't Know How to Love You