Sunday, March 07, 2010

It is official...

I'm a Helicopter Parent. Let me go find that chullu bhar paani to doob mar....

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100307/jsp/7days/story_12187135.jsp

Seriously though, I think I am being practical in this day and age when children disappear from homes and building premises and are found dead 30 kms away (my heart breaks for the parents of 3year old Gursharan), or are taken hostage by kidnappers out to make a quick buck who often dont hesitate a moment before killing their hostage.

I am also paranoid. I pick up and drop my child to school because I see the way the school bus children bully the younger ones in the bus. My son would be jailbait for them. And I see the way the children who go by van run amok on the traffic laden street outside, and often see the average of one missed accident per day, all because them van children run berserk. I accompany my son down to the park. I walk while he plays. I keep an eagle eye out for him getting into scraps and dont physically hover around, but am there. Silent. Lurking. Should wear black overcoat and dark shades, and pack my weapon unobstrusively in a holster. You know. I could do with martial arts training too, would come in handy when them kids get into tear each other's hair out fights.

I insist the brat is never left at home alone. I have friends who leave their six and three year olds alone at home and lock up all balconies and risky areas. They get their grocery shopping and other chores done quicker that way. I am lucky in that I have someone I can leave him behind with. If no one is around to watch him, I would rather drag him along with me than leave him behind. I know the mischief he can get upto when I am physically present to keep yelling as background noise in a vain attempt to deter him. I dread thinking what he would do in my absence.

I still maintain this is a different age we are growing up in. The challenges are different. Children are not as safe today as they were earlier. Sexual assaults on children are at an all time high. The newspapers are full of stories of children who went missing while they were playing, only to be found abused and dead in some remote area few days later. It is heart breaking. It is also very scary when you have a child like the brat who will happily trot off with a random stranger, with zero stranger anxiety.

And till they are able to take care of themselves in a public situation (aka become adults with appropriate self defence and martial arts training) we as parents need to be more vigilant about their safety. And yes, I really dont mind being called a Helicopter Parent. I dont mind being called paranoid. I am. The only issue I am paranoid about is my child's safety. I donot have him attending a slew of classes to gain different skills, he barely attends one dance class which is conducted in the lobby of my building itself. I donot hound him regarding his studies, in fact, he gets away with complete slacking off most of the times. I am not obsessive about his diet. My motto is, if he is hungry, he will eat. His food is placed in front of him, and if he doesnt finish it in the stipulated time, it is removed. And he stays till the next meal time, by when hopefully he builds up an appetite.
I am not hovering on my child's heels, he does his own thing. But I'm around. Watching. Ensuring he stays safe, to the best of my ability. I call it being sensible. I call it being a responsible parent.

10 comments:

  1. Hey, Same Pinch... I am an Helicopter Parent too! :-) But, in the way u have written and not as the article in The Telegraph suggests.

    i hover in the background during the evening playtime, making sure i can see my child at all times, though making sure she DOESN'T see me and can play with her friends with no concern abt being supervised or some such.

    My daughter turns 5 tomorrow, but i don't see home-alone, going out unaccompanied, etc. happening for a long time to come.

    Arre, y be ashamed, rather Cheers to the helicopter-parents, as long as the paranoia is restriced to child-safety issues. After all, where will be these so-called 'child experts' if (God Forbid) something happens to your child?

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a tricky line to walk, Kiran, but I don't think you're a helicopter parent exactly, because I have seen some of those in action and I don't think you could keep up, seriously.

    You're hyper about his safety but he's six years old, you're supposed to be this way. If you were this anal when he turned sixteen, then you should worry!

    ReplyDelete
  3. the article and your comments are not in context at all. u r being a concerned responsible parent not helicopter. and yes - i wudnt leave my kids alone at home, i wudn't let them play alone even inside the complex

    ReplyDelete
  4. i dont think you're a helicopter parent, Kiran, with all due apologies to the article. You're doing what NEEDS to be done for a 6 year old - any normal 6 year old...
    its called being a mom. i'd only worry if you sat in class with him ;)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think the fact that you think about it shows you have your heart in the right place :-). I have a nine year old son. I now allow him to go to the men's shower areas in the gym, with the understanding that I am right outside and he screams if anyone comes within 6 inches of him.(this is a family gym, and has several boys and parents using those rooms). Frankly, I am on tenterhooks that entire 15 minutes! I don't know when I going to give up on the stress and tell him, ok it is back to the kiddie areas for you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think the fact that you think about it shows you have your heart in the right place :-). I have a nine year old son. I now allow him to go to the men's shower areas in the gym, with the understanding that I am right outside and he screams if anyone comes within 6 inches of him.(this is a family gym, and has several boys and parents using those rooms). Frankly, I am on tenterhooks that entire 15 minutes! I don't know when I going to give up on the stress and tell him, ok it is back to the kiddie areas for you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Theres no winning this battle. Its either you are a helicopter parent or a negligent parent. I think one has to decide how to deal with it depending on the situation. Its always better to be safe than sorry, right?

    ReplyDelete
  8. You a helicopter parent? I have serious doubts about that since I have met you. You just seemed like a normal, involved mom to me. A helicopter mom would have jumped up and been over her son the minute he stepped into the balcony (at Ro's house - remember?) Or hovered over her son every minute. You didn't. You hovered over M instead, right? :P

    With you on this a 100%. We have just now started leaving S at home alone IF it is going to be under 10 minutes. She is 11.5 years old. There is a law here, against leaving children younger than 12 alone - and there is a good reason for it. Younger children could get into so many troubles if left on their own, that we adults might not even imagine. What if a 3/4 year old knocked his/her head against a table and fell unconscious? I know I am talking of an extreme case, but things could happen.

    Agree with you about dropping off and picking up and not letting them go out unsupervised. Our time really was different in this sense - there was much less stranger danger in those days. And much less viciousness in older kids.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sangeetha: Exactly. I dont think any child will grow up with warped self esteem and confidence if their parents are looking out for them. If anything I think it should make them more secure and more responsible...

    Sue: I dont think I could keep up either...

    Itchy: Leaving small kids unsupervised in a play area these days is terribly risky. You never know what could happen...

    MM: Thank you, I've done my share of sitting in school in my childhood.. ;)

    Maya: Oh Lord, I just know I'm going to be biting my nails when I reach this stage too!

    Boo:You summed it up perfectly...better safe than sorry.

    Cee: Absolutely bang on. Our times were different. These days, you cant even trust the kids with older kids. And yes, leaving a six year old and a three year old home alone is very very scary according to me...even if everything is locked up. What will the child do if there is a medical emergency?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Agree with everyone above...being involved and responsible is a far cry from being paranoid. Just as long as you let go progressively as he grows up after equipping him with safety rules and tactics and have that connection to him that ensures he'll come to you if there's a problem...you've nowhere near helicoptering :)

    as for leaving lil' kids home alone, that's neglect and highly dangerous.

    ReplyDelete