A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or simply a cosseter) is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead. (Wikipedia)
When I first began the intrepid adventure of 'life as a school-gate mum', I remember over-hearing a conversation which made a lasting impression on me.
One particular mum (a few years ahead in the game than me) was sharing her sudden realisation that no one in the world would ever fight for her child, quite like she would. The detail is hazy but in essence, if it wasn't for this mother's persistence, no one would have discovered the extent to which her daughter was being bullied.
That was almost a decade ago and I've never forgotten the sentiment. So much so that this mother's story is the reason behind my third 'Life Rule'.....
I will always fight my child's corner.
This particular parenting stance isn't very popular these days. Being labelled a 'helicopter parent' and ridiculed for swooping in and 'rescuing' when the going gets tough is common place.
If you're a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I'm not a soft touch. In fact my first 'Life Rule' pays testament to that: 'Never do anything for your child that they can do for themselves'. But I'm not talking about running up to the school with a forgotten PE kit or making my 12 year old's bed when she's perfectly capable of doing it herself, I'm talking about fighting my child's corner when instinct beckons.
Just last week, The Boy returned home from school muttering something about his new teacher. Being a typical boy, he doesn't usually offer much information about what goes on between the hours of 9-3, so I paid close attention. He proceeded to explain that his teacher had told him off three times over the last two days, for things he hadn't done.
Now I know as well as the next parent, that things can be misconstrued and that any child who thinks they are in danger of getting into trouble will deny all kinds of things. But I figured that he didn't have to tell me what had happened as she had already (rightly or wrongly) punished him. And it bothered me. It bothered me a lot. The Boy isn't usually in trouble and it would be very uncharacteristic of him to be persistently disruptive in class.
I considered going to speak to his new teacher, to find out her take on things but I quickly started to question my motives....to question what the school would think...to question whether I would be labelled the 'over-protective parent' and whether in fact my son could be glossing over the truth. Then I remembered the conversation above, the promise I had made all those years ago to fight for my child against all the odds.
So it seemed only fair to give his teacher the opportunity to give her side of the story and I think my son deserved a hearing too. Of course it's not all that clear exactly what happened - it never is - but I felt better for instigating the conversation and she was receptive and seemingly 'happy' to speak to me.
Whether I have done my reputation (or his) some damage, is still in question. But I feel very strongly that as parents, we should be more confident in following our instincts. We should never feel intimidated, or allow ourselves to be ridiculed by a label. It's for this reason that I will continue to investigate and will always fight my child's corner when the need arises - no one else is going to.
What do you think of the term 'helicopter parent'? Do you live in fear of being labelled or are you more than happy to speak up when necessary? I would love to hear your views....