Helicopter Mom

How to Balance Your Helicopter Tendencies

August 1, 2013

I just saw a very funny skit on helicopter parents.  At the time I laughed, even though the skit kind of convicted me about a couple of things I do for my kids.  Days later I started to get annoyed because my laughter had turned to paranoia.  Was I a helicopter parent? What exactly is a helicopter parent?  Wikipedia says this… Helicopter parent is a colloquial, early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.

OK, so is this a bad thing???  I guess the push-it-over-the-edge word in the helicopter definition is extremely.    Felt some relief about that – I must not be a helicopter mom. I don’t have time to do anything to the extreme.  I do, however, pay close attention to my children’s experiences and problems.

The helicopter mom definition led me to another question.  Why isn’t there a name for the opposite kind of mom?   That’s a much bigger problem in my opinion.  So here is my colloquial, early 21st-century term for a mom who doesn’t care – Submarine MomSubmarine mom is a term for a parent who doesn’t pay attention to his or her child’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.

In the spectrum between Submarine Mom and Helicopter Mom I want to be in the middle leaning toward the helicopter side.  I haven’t come up with a term for this balanced mom yet, so feel free to share your creative thoughts about a name.  When you consider a name for the balanced mom consider this:

5 things to know to avoid being labeled a Submarine Mom…

1. Know your child’s friends and their parents

2. Know your child’s teachers and grades

3. Know your child’s successes and failures

4. Know your child’s dreams and fears

5. Know your child’s strengths and weaknesses

5 things to do to avoid being labeled a Helicopter Mom…

1. Never force your child to try to be part of certain social group

2. Never rescue your child from a bad grade that is deserved

3. Never push your child to succeed as if it is the only thing that matters

4. Never impose your own dreams and fears on your child

5. Never make your child feel as if they can’t do something without mom helping

So here is my last thought on this topic:  it comes from a question I get all the time because I have 5 kids, and my last is in middle school…When do you start letting go on the first list above?   The answer is, definitely not in middle school!  If anything, you need to be more involved in middle school and high school.  College you have to step back—but not totally.  My oldest is 20, and I still know her friends and most of their parents.  In fact, I have a few of her friend’s phone numbers.  If I thought something had happened to her, I could call them to check up on her. I don’t know her teachers but as long as I am paying her bills, I want to know her grades.

I could go on and on but you get the idea…just don’t ever feel guilty for a little helicoptering!

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  • Kim

    I am terribly offended by the term “Submarine Mom”. I am a submarine mom. I am the mother of a US Navy Submariner and very proud to be called a “Submarine Mom”. I raised a wonderful young man who chooses to spend his time and talent lurking under the ocean for months at a time without seeing daylight to ensure your freedom. I would suggest you find another name for the women the pay no attention to their children.

  • iMom

    Kim, So sorry I offended you. This was just my word picture using the already coined phrase “helicopter mom”. I am a Navy mom also. My daughter is in the nuclear engineering program in Charleston. Don’t know that she will be allowed on a sub as there are rules about women but rules change and so I too may be a proud submarine mom one day.

  • dkedsmom

    Center mom. Place for possible solutions/considerations. Resource center allowing each child the unique and individual status of owning their decisions and outcomes. A center for the pure joy of seeking and learning a better way to meet a need and keep a clear conscience. A safe standing for contemplation and regrouping no matter the fall or the climb. Go Center MOM!!!

  • DawnDHartley37

    I know that sometimes I might be a helicopter parent, but it’s only because I love my son, but I only do it at times where I don’t think it’s harming him. For example, I want him to be really active because he has been gaining lots of weight. So I was kind of pushing him to get back into baseball which I think he was planning on anyway, but I realize it’s something he wants to do, so it isn’t about my dreams, but his dreams. However, I still know my limitations and I try to pray about them so I don’t go to the extreme.

    • Dawn, you are not be a helicopter mom! You are being an encouraging mom 🙂

  • Jennifer

    Earthly Mom or Grounded Mom. Those are my suggestions. 🙂

  • Ruth Ann Ventrello

    Sounds like the center mom is a stakeout mom. She seems to be in the know of everything going on in her child’s life and is ready to step in when necessary, but smart enough to know when to just observe.