Digital Dad: Are You A Helicopter Parent?

Dad of 3. Husband of 1. Master of None.

I’m going to put my cards on the table and say that I’m definitely not a ‘helicopter parent’. Well if I was I’m not anymore. I have 3 boys – 6, 4 & 1 – all very independent in their own right with one perhaps being a bit more ‘demanding’ than the others. We don’t and have never ‘child proofed’ our home. Ok so we don’t leave knives lying around the place or the fire guard off the fireplace but we’ve never used a stair gate, we’ve never put covers on plug sockets and we’ve never bubble wrapped a coffee table.

I say this in jest of course and as a parent I protect my kids as best I can but there are always going to be times and situations when I can’t protect them and I accept that.

All I can do is equip them as best I can to protect themselves the best they can.

So what is helicopter parenting? Well, as you might have guessed, it’s over parenting, meaning over controlling, over protecting and over perfecting a child’s life. It’s a somewhat regimented and directed parenting style with the goal of protecting the physical and mental well-being of the child, often unconsciously at the risk of stifling the child.

As parents we instinctively want to protect our kids and keep them safe and that’s perfectly reasonable. Sometimes however, without quite realising it, this can lead us to become ‘Helicopter Parents’. The trick is to recognise when these over protective / over controlling instincts kick in and to intentionally back off to let our kids learn to take care of themselves

Listen we all know that parenting is nerve wracking. Sure half of us probably don’t know what we’re doing most of the time – this is probably more true with a first child – and TV shows and news articles continually pumping out nightmare stories or ‘What If’ scenarios obviously doesn’t help.

Helicopter parenting

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as guilty as the next parent for helping my kids to retrieve their toys from other children who snatched them away, or helping my kids to ask for something that they want. It’s only when my eldest first reached the age of “NO, I’ll do it myself” or “why can’t you just let me do it myself” that I realised I was being more of a hindrance than a help.

So what are the signs that you may be a helicopter parent?

Knowingly or unknowingly and out of sheer love and concern for your child, you might be following the helicopter / hover style. For instance if you find yourself answering questions of behalf of your child or you have heart palpitations at the thought of your child going on a play date, or it’s never crossed your mind to have your kids help out with making dinner or emptying the dishwasher (because knives are sharp) then maybe, just maybe, you’re a helicopter parent.

Other signs might include:

  1. Not allowing your child to make age appropriate choices
  2. Not allowing your child to tackle their own problems.
  3. Constantly negotiating on behalf of your child
  4. Your nickname being ‘Black Hawk’ or ‘Chopper’
  5. You’ve been known to disinfect playground rides.
  6. You shield your child from failure
  7. Your child’s first overnight will be in college.

.What are the affects of helicopter / hover parenting?

On a more serious note however, research has shown that parents start being overprotective with a genuine intention but in the process of engaging with kids and their lives, they lose the actual perspective of what they want. So rather than helping their children it can have adverse affect such as:

  1. Low self-esteem and confidence.

The over involvement of the parent makes the child believe that their parents will not trust them if they do something independently. It, therefore, leads to lack of self-esteem and confidence.

  1. Immature coping skills.

When the parent is always there to prevent the problem at first sight or clean up the mess, the child can never learn through failure, disappointment or loss. Studies also reveal that helicopter parents can make their kids less competent in dealing with tensions and pressures of life.

  1. Overanxious.

Helicopter parenting can often lead to increases levels of depression and anxiety in a child. Children that always look for guidance can often become too nervous to make a decision when left alone.

  1. Sense of entitlement complex.

When parents get over-involved in their child’s academic, social and sporting activities, children can quickly get accustomed to always having their parents to fulfill their needs. This can make them more demanding as they feel that it is their right to have what they want.

  1. Underdeveloped life skills.

Over involvement of parents can also lead to children refusing to learn basic life skills such as making/packing lunches, tying shoe laces, cleaning a mess, emptying a dishwasher, general house work and cooking a meal.

How To Avoid Helicopter Parenting.

If while reading this you suspect that you might be guilty of helicopter parenting or you realise (now) that you might be stifling your child’s independence, fear not, a few simple adjustments to you approach can make all the difference.

Similar to any habit – good or bad – make a conscious effort to avoid doing things a certain way. For instance:

Helicopter Parents

  1. Stop Hovering Over Your Child.

If your child can dress themselves and tie their own shoe laces then let them do that. If they can pour their own cereal or make a sandwich for themselves then let them. Try to avoid holding them back from doing things that suit their age. As mentioned above, try not to get over-involved in your child’s academic, social and sporting activities.

Children, like adults, need to learn for themselves (within reason of course) and disappointment, discomfort and even pain is all part of growing up.  If as parents we shield our children from life’s hardships and struggles they are never going to learn if we are always doing it for them.

  1. Stop Overthinking.

Try to stop worrying or over thinking about all the things that could happen to your child. Easier said than done, I know but try to let go of all those negative thoughts such as: “Is he/she interacting enough with people in school?”, “What will he/she become when they grow up”  “Is his/her shyness because of lack of confidence?”

Try to avoid searching for evidence to confirm your worries about your child..

  1. Scale Back On “Yes”.

Kids are cute. Kids are sharp. Kids know how to play up to their parents. If you are too obliging to them they will take advantage of it.

  1. Stop The Labels.

Hands up, I’m guilty of this. Be it positive or negative; try not to label your child. Refrain from labels such as the “funny one” or “sporty one” or “lazy one” or “you’re just like your mom/dad”. Also avoid saying “You always…” or “You never…”.

Words are powerful thus try not to make any negative assumptions about your child’s behaviour.

  1. Let Them Chose A Different Path.

You made your kids but you cannot make them become something that you want.

If you over-influence a child they’ll struggle to perceive their own hopes and dreams. Let children explore their own thoughts and opinions. If they think differently from you, so be it. Listen to them rather than shut them down. Discuss it with them. Let them express themselves

If your child chooses a path that is different from what you have wished/decided for her don’t take it personally. They are children after all, not clones.

  1. Don’t Ignore You.

Don’t forget to focus on your own life. If your child becomes the focal point of your life it’s very easy to neglect your own life and to stop thinking about your needs, your interests, your relationships, your social life and your activities. Step back and reassess.

Let me know your thoughts.

DD.

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THINGS I LEARNED AS A PARENT LAST YEAR (Part 2)

1. 90% of eating with your kids in a restaurant is preventing them from (1) putting food in their drinks or (2) spilling their drinks.

2. ‘Dad, why don’t you let the radio sing instead?’, was just cruel and unnecessary.

3. Trying to open a Capri Sun without it squirting out is one of parenting’s toughest challenges

4. Wearing a Halloween Mask in bed has been a great way to stop our kids from wanting to sleep in our bed at night.

5. You don’t know creepy until you’ve had a child stand over you at 3am and whisper ‘Bunny says he doesn’t like you”. #TimeToChangeTheUndies.

6. Did you know that blueberries can pass through a baby’s digestive system fully intact? Same goes for sweetcorn, carrots, potatoes…

7. One of the best sounds you’ll ever hear is your partner and kids in fits of laughter in the next room.

8. . That said, hearing Thing 1 (5) ‘teaching’ and explaining something to his younger brother (3) makes everything in my world completely insignificant.

9. Son: “DAAAD I only asked you to hold my ice cream”.
Me: “Yes and that was a mistake. Now you must learn from it..

10. The one thing I have in common with our baby is we both cry when our bottles are empty.

11. 6yo: “Daddy what does neglect mean?”
Me: Sssh I’m watching the golf.

12. “I want a snack” – my 4yo when he’s eating.

13. Nothing halts having fun with your kids quicker than when one of them grabs your glasses.

14. We teach our kids not to lie and then 30 seconds later tell them that their picture is excellent.

15. Before i had kids i thought only perverts sniffed underwear.

16. If you yell “what are you up to” and your kids say “nothing” that’s kid code for “you better get off your fat a** and check on us”

17. Always double-check the garden after you’ve had a party because seeing a 3 year old chew on a cigarette butt is all sorts of wrong.

18. If you want to see a full-blown meltdown, give a boy a girl’s party bag by ‘mistake’.

19. Always make sure that your son is looking into the toilet (or even at the toilet) when you offer to have a ‘wee wee’ sword fight with them. #DadsWillUnderstand

20. I’ve been present at 3 births (right hand is still fractured) but nothing compares to the facial expressions of a toddler trying to squeeze out a poo.

21. Sunday bedtime is usually when my kids like to discuss quantum physics

22. It’s also the time when my kids ‘need to finish’ their homework.

23. …and it’s also the time when I tend to lose my sh*t.

24. I only bring my kids to the library so that I can get some peace and quiet.

25. I’m never more nervous than when I insist we’re out of something and my wife goes to look for it herself.

26. You haven’t really been patronised until a 6yo hugs you and starts patting you on the back

27. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make my 3yo wipe his own arse.

28. Its weird how 6 glasses of water seems impossible but 6 glasses of wine can be done in one sitting.

29. ‘No I’ll do it myself’ is the reason i’ll never be on time for anything ever again.

30. ‘Really. Wow that’s mad’ – things I say when i’m not listening to my kids (or wife)

31. If bottled bath water was a thing, my kids would drink it by the gallon.

32. Even if my privates were on fire my kids would walk into the room and ask me for a snack.

33. 4yo: I don’t like it, it’s too spicy.
Me: IT’S A YOGURT

DD

Catch me FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | (i’ve no friends)

THINGS I LEARNED AS A PARENT LAST YEAR (Part 1)

*a selection of some of my random thoughts on being a dad to 3 boys*

1. Being a dad has thought me that you don’t need fun to have alcohol. very important lesson.

2. Three boys. Well I’ll tell ya one thing, farms don’t smell as bad as they used to.

3. Raising a toddler in particular is similar to being a dog. You’re continually sniffing an arse

4. If you think your kids will go to bed earlier and easier just because they didn’t nap, I can recommend the following book – ‘Parenting For Dummies’.

5. First child – healthy, organic, sugarless everything.
Third child – “Just pick it up and eat it” [as the microwave burrito falls on floor].

6. It’s getting harder to figure out a way to play with my kids without actually moving.

7. If you’ve never had a stalker experience just put a 1yo in a walker. #TheStalkerInTheWalker

8. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have, trying to count out the correct amount of formula scoops is a head f*ck particularly if someones talking/screaming/sh*tting in the background.

9. The new title of my imaginary parenting book will be ‘Never mind, i’ll do it myself’.

10. If you slack off enough kids become very self sufficient, very fast.

11. Therefore teach your kid from an early age just how comfortable the couch is so that they aren’t constantly asking you to do stuff.

12. That said, no good ever comes from a toddler sitting naked on a couch.

13. Lads, always go big on Mother’s Day…I learned the hard way (the fact that she’s not actually your mother didn’t seem to matter).

14. If something looks like poo, feels like poo and smells like poo, it’s poo.

15. Pro Tip: Continually emphasising the need to keep your kid on a strict schedule makes it easier to say no to crappy things you’ve been invited to.

16. The smell of a bad nappy can linger in your house longer than your In-laws. I love them really (the in-laws that is).

17. When remarking that ‘they’ve gone down well tonight’ it’s always best to check that the monitor is on first.

18. Potty training and bubble baths should never be mixed – all will look lovely on the surface but what lies beneath can be the stuff of nightmares.

19. The day before you bring your kid to their first swimming class, put a little pee in their bath so that they are used to it.

20. Pro Tip: Have your partner leave you a voicemail of the baby screaming. Save it and play it to people when you need to get out of something.

21. If your buggy doesn’t have a cup holder, get one. Believe me, It’s easier to play Jenga on a bus than it is to steer a buggy with one hand.

22. Assuming they’re fit and able to pitch in, accept every bit of help on offer from granny and granddad, Their philosophical advice will be brilliant. Their medical advice not so much!

23. I’m noticing more and more that most of my sentences tend to start off strong and then trail off into sighs as my kids ignore me.

24. Planning our wedding was easier than planning dinner that everyone will eat.

25. It turns out that if you wait long enough to make dinner everyone will just eat cereal.

26. Hell hath no fury than a toddler who wants to peel a banana himself.

27. Hell hath no fury than a dad who has to clean up a squashed banana

28. Saying ‘see you in the morning’ as I tuck my kids into bed is pointless.

29. It’s possible to destroy a house with a granola bar.

30. It’s also possible to destroy a house with a rice cake.

31. The loudest sound in the world is my 4 year old shouting ‘Dad, I have to do a poo’ followed by “Dad can you wipe my bum”.

32. If you have Ready Brek on your crotch there’s a good chance nobody will sit beside you on the bus/train.

33. The trick to cleaning Weetbix off the floor is not to leave it for more than 8 seconds.

34. I wish my wallet refilled as quickly as our laundry basket.

35. It’s near impossible to not open your own mouth every time you try to feed a baby.

DD.

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Part 2 tmrw (unless you’re sick of reading this stuff – just let me know)

Digital Dad: Things I learned As A Parent Last Week

From Russian roulette to Santa bribes, here are 27 things that I learned as a parent over the past few weeks…

1.It only took two phone calls to Santa this morning to get the boys ready for school. Result.

2. Everywhere is a potential bed if you try hard enough.

3. Nobody is better at Hide-and-Seek than my wife when she hands me the kids after I walk in the door from work.

4. YAAAAY bath time.

  • 10 mins of tactical negotiations to get the kids into the bath.
  • 5 mins of screaming about how hot the water is (it’s not).
  • 1 min of fighting about which end of the bath my 4yo & 6yo want
  • 3 mins of screaming about getting shampoo in their eyes (I didn’t )
  • 5 mins of laughing as all 3 do farts in the bath- 2 mins of panic while we realise that Thing 3 (our toddler) ‘sharted’ not farted
  • 2 mins of ‘full monty’ dancing
  • 3 mins of post evacuation chasing of Thing 1 & Thing 2 in order to get them dry and dressed.

Parenting (with clean kids). So much fun.

5. My toddler should write a book called “Why one sock is better than two”.

6. My 4yo should write a book called “Why I never wait for the sun to come up”.

7. My 6yo should write a book called “Why I want to be a Lego Master Builder”.

8. *from upstairs to downstairs*

4yo: “DAAAAD. I got poo in my hair”

Me: “That’s not possible. Go to sleep”

Turns out it is possible. #ByeByePillow

9. “Noooo I want to do it, I want to do it. I said I WANTED TO DO IT” – my 4yo’s nightmare last night, presumably about traffic light buttons.

10. If you’re ever concerned about your kid’s hearing, just open a bag of crisps from another room.

11. it’s always fun to find a mushed up banana stuffed between your ‘no longer new’ couch.

12. Conjunctivitis.com – now there’s a site for sore eyes. #DadJoke

13. Parenting Russian Roulette – Undressing a standing toddler and removing the nappy not knowing if anything will fall out or slide down. I lost

14. Asking your kids to clean up their toys while you hold a large black bin liner is EXTREMELY effective. Try it.

15. It’s slowly dawning on me that the only way I’m going to ever use a gym is if I go to prison.

16. DING DONG.

Sales Caller: “Oh…..Hello there. Is your Mummy or Daddy there?”

4yo: “No”…while slowly closing door.

Sales Caller: *puzzled look*

Me: *feeling proud (as I hide) that he executed it perfectly*

#WitchingHour #GoAway #WorstTimeToCall

17. I can’t believe I was naive enough to think “a soft play centre will never see a cent of my money”

18. School photos; because who needs money to buy groceries this week.

19. My kids have reached that stage where they blame their farts on their mum now. Is it bad that I’m somewhat proud that they’ve reached this milestone?

20. Last Saturday my 4yo son took off his shoes, top and jeans and stood in a display shower in Homebase while waving at customers.

21. Meanwhile, my 6yo dressed up in full Nerf ‘combat’ gear yesterday just to kill a bug. I swear I could hear the bug p***ing himself…laughing.

22. If you’re bored, a fun thing to do is tell your kids that it’s time for bed, and repeat it again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and….you get the picture

23. “Ugh. I’m not eating that, it’s yucky” he says about tiny bruise on banana.

The same can’t be said for a stringy snot however (as I type ‘n’ wretch)

#OurFourYearOld

24. Cleaning your house is pointless if your children are going to continue living there.

25. I thought I was a normal person until my 4yo son asked me if “I’d eat a bowl of dog poo for 3 million euro pound money”

26. Never ever lose instructions for a newly bought Lego spaceship. #SundayRuined

27. I’m thinking of setting up a ‘Nap Club’. It’ll be kinda like a book club just without the books or the talking.

Let me know if you’re interested – SIGN UP HERE

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Best,

DD


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