Posts Tagged ‘ helicopter parent ’

Paranoia, Plastic And Paint=Possible Helicopter Parent

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

If Santa can’t pay a visit to my kids this year it’s because I went obsessive and over the top in buying Fia a new lunchbox along with an air-quality test for our house. I’m on a toxic roll. Maybe I’m becoming–or always have been—a helicopter parent. But I think how we define “helicopter parent” might be changing. If it means being reasonably obsessive and paranoid about the world we live in, then I’m okay with that title. Of course “reasonably” is the key here.

Ever since I’ve been grinding on the Mother Jones article about BPA–and how all plastic is basically toxic–Fia’s lunchbox has been haunting me. I pack all of her food in BPA-free plastic containers. But now that I know it’s not only BPA that is the problem, I have been contemplating buying what I think is the most eco-friendly lunch box on the planet: Planet Box.

Then yesterday, serendipity. She was on a playdate at a playground. When I picked her up, she carried her lunchbox to the car. Her friend was beside her. They started giving each other massive hugs, arms wrapped tight around each other. While they did this, I put Emmett back in his carseat. Then Fia came around to the other side and I put her in. We drove home. It was then I realized the cursed-soft plastic lunchbox with poisonous plastic containers was missing. Fia and I figured it out: when she went to compulsively hug, she must have set it on the ground. I was on the other side strapping in Emmett and never saw it sitting on the curb before driving off. Finally my opportunity had arrived to be really neurotic and purchase a $70 lunchbox. Actually it’s only $60, but add in shipping and tax. I don’t care. For me, it’s worth my peace of mind–and maybe a few less presents under the tree.

However, like most things that a person with a compulsive personality will do, my expensive paranoia didn’t end there. I’ve also been grinding on a smell in Emmett’s room. We renovated our house and moved in 6 months ago. In California, all the paints sold are low VOC’s. However, I swear I smell an oil-based stain–perhaps even formaldehyde??–every night in his room. That’s because at night we shut all his windows to keep the boogeyman out, thus trapping the air. I’ve done everything from vanilla on cotton balls, to the Bad Air Sponge to an air purifier that runs 24/7. Yet still, I smell it.

Sometimes I’ll occasionally get a whiff in the afternoon, which causes me to march into Phil’s office and interrupt his workday.

“Phil, go in and smell Emmett’s room!”

But I swear every time he gets in there, the smell is gone. It’s like a formaldehyde-farting ghost is haunting me.

So along with Fia’s gourmet lunchbox, I ordered a do-it-yourself-air-test-kit off Amazon for $160.00. Luckily shipping was free. I hope the price includes the test lab.

I’m becoming the ultimate consumer, the ultimate sucker, both, or just another paranoid–maybe helicopter?–parent. But I don’t care. Like this “helicopter parent,” wrote so eloquently, we are living in a different time. She didn’t focus on plastic and poisons, but I share her perspective in its entirety as to why we “hover.” Joe Deprospero, my guest blogger, had similar thoughts this week from a dad’s perspective, with a hilarious video that follows. Hell, he hovered so much he locked his kid in the car.

I will sleep better for having done something to remedy my neurosis. The added bonus of course, is I no longer have to glare at Fia’s lunchbox or sniff for my farting ghost. The bad part is I have a larger credit card bill to pay.

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I Said Coddlers Were Idiots. People Got Mad. Let Me Explain.

Friday, March 21st, 2014

It’s funny as to what strikes a chord of passion and/or fury when I write a blog. I’m always surprised at the parts in my post that people take issue with, agree with or despise. I can never predict. So it came as a total shock when someone alerted me that my Parents Who Coddle Are Idiots post went viral. I began looking at the countless comments and began to realize how my rant didn’t translate to a lot of people.  I can take the hatred in the comments. But I don’t like it when I’m not understood. However, that’s my bad for ranting, complete with profanity, and thus losing the main focus.

What resonated with a lot of people was my perceived lack of patience. I said a little boy wouldn’t give Emmett his toy back. I said it took the father asking him 3 times, and about 60 seconds to get exactly nowhere. It’s not a long time. But it became clear pretty quick that the scenario wasn’t going to change by asking asking asking. We could have stood there 10 minutes and probably gotten the same response (though I would hope that the parent would finally intervene. Who knows?)

The bigger point is that at this age and with toys/objects–frankly almost anything in societal norms– unless you are firm from the beginning, no 2-year-old is going to instinctively know what to do. A toddler won’t “want” to give something back or else he/she wouldn’t have grabbed it in the first place. If the child is raised with parents who ask, ask, plead, plead, with everything but don’t take charge, then guess what? That kid is always going to think they have a choice.  To hit, grab, steal, throw food, pull hair. This goes far beyond the playground. This is about parenting with clear rules and boundaries.

When I finally said, “Let’s give that back,” and gently took the toy from the little boy, he didn’t cry. He just went onto the next thing. I didn’t grab. I didn’t yell. I was nice. But I stated it instead of asking. I simply don’t see the harm in that. However, a lot of commenter’s said similar things to the one below:

…”What if a stranger prying the car out of his hands sent him into a meltdown? It would have been more appropriate for you to ask dad to grab it instead of you physically intervening.

Sure I could have asked the dad. And then maybe he would have asked his kid. Again. If the child had a meltdown, then I would have stepped back and let him deal with it. Frankly, I probably would have told him to just keep the toy. But that’s because I find myself all too often being the mom who backs down when other people’s kids aren’t behaving. Even on playdates when a child is being bratty to mine, I am almost always the one who says, “Fia, why don’t you go play in a different area,” etc. But I am sick of being the one who changes gears for the kids who are coddled. If their parents were more direct with them, it wouldn’t put me in this position. In this scenario, I found that by simply stating I wanted it back made for a very easy pass over. The toddler basically handed it and I took it. The reason it was so simple is most likely because he was told what to do.

I know from the comments, many of the people who “got” my post will know exactly what I’m talking about here. Seems like these people have had similar experiences as mine:

  • Excellent!!! I feel the same and what sucks are that bratty kids make it hard on the kids who have parents that “tell”" them what to do!!
  • I love this article and am glad to see that there are parents out there that are not afraid to be a parent. I am not my child’s friend nor do I intend to be. Say what you want but I NEVER have these problems with my kids because they respect what I say when I say it.
  • Love this!! Well said!!! Parents are parents first and friends later! It’s ok for your child to get mad at you. We are their adversary!! All these spoiled bratty whiny kids running around controlling their grown parents. It’s sad and pathetic really.

One commenter even directed me to a post she wrote about the type of parent to avoid at the playground.

From the time my kids could interact, I’ve tried to be clear and firm in sharing. I do it with love and I do it with patience. Sure there are times it doesn’t work, and of course it depends on the kid (and the parent). But my kids are not the grabbing type. They also listen really well and usually share really well (which their teachers consistently tell me. Emmett, my wild boy, apparently sits better than a bunch of 3-year olds in circle time).  They also have incredibly happy temperaments. I don’t think that’s just luck. I also think it’s cool my kids are so well behaved. Kids learn quickly to be polite, to share, to not hit, to not grab. They like rules. And order. I think parents who have kids who grab or don’t share, aren’t realizing how simple it is to teach your children basic etiquette. It may take a few tantrums and time-outs, but to me it’s been well worth it.

I hope this clarifies why my original post wasn’t a matter of being “more patient” or as some called me, “a bully.” I’ll wrap up with this woman’s comment:

How would it feel if they turned around and said YOU’RE not parenting right because you are impatient and don’t let your kids figure things out for themselves? 

I know exactly what I would do. I would tell them my kids do think for themselves. And what they think and know is that they don’t grab other people’s toys. And if they do, they give it back. Promptly. No “asking” required.

Find out what your parenting style is here.

Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep
Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep
Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep

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Parents Who Coddle Are Idiots

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

There are some things you tell your kids and some things you ask. Telling makes it affirmative. Asking makes it optional.  Coddling comes from the latter–and parents who coddle their kids incessantly are entirely insufferable. Their children will suffer for their actions. We all already do because it pisses off the parents who are doing the right thing. In the last week two instances illustrate this perfectly. Strangely enough, it was both dads. But I find the majority of my encounters of this kind are with moms, simply because there are usually more moms on the playground. Regardless here goes:

Emmett went down the slide and his little car slipped out of his hands. A boy around 2 or 3 takes it. Em runs over, points and says, “Emmett’s car.” He doesn’t grab, he doesn’t push. He waits. I am next to him.

The boy’s father comes up.

“Sean, that’s not your car. Can you give it back?”

Silence. More silence.

Dad leans over.

“Hey Buddy, can you give it back?”

More More Silence.

My mind: Okay, if you’re counting that’s twice you’ve asked in the 30 seconds my kid is waiting. And are you an idiot? No kid wants to give up a toy–even if it’s not theirs– so why keep asking?

“Sean, you really need to give that back buddy.”

Nothing. More Nothing.

My mind: Okay are you stupid? The proper thing to say is, “Hey Buddy, give it back.” You don’t ask if he can. Of course he can. But chances aren’t he won’t. Clearly your kid is not responding to your passive parenting. Duh.

At this point, we are approaching 45 seconds, maybe a minute. I’m done. I kneel down and physically take the car from precious little Sean’s hands, while saying, “We are going to give that back now.” I hand it to Emmett and we resume playing. I’m furious though.

Do you see how ridiculous this scenario is? We have become a culture of coddlers. So many parents take the path of least resistance when it comes to child rearing. Your kids are acting up? Hand them your phone. Your kid doesn’t want to share their pile of French fries (on a playdate)? Have the other parent order a new batch, even though that kid will never finish his. It’s ludicrous.

Two days later, at a different playground, Fia and Emmett climbed up to a double slide. The kind where you can sit side-by-side. One slide was empty; the other had a little girl around 18 months on it. Fia sat down on the empty one next to her.

“Come on Emmett, slide next to me,” she said.

“He will Fia, we just have to let this little girl go down first,” I explained.

I look at the father who looks at his daughter.

“What do you think sweetie? Do you want to go down?” he asks.

Silence. More silence.

Emmett is on the top, once again, waiting patiently.

“Hmmm honey? What do you think?” he asks. Again.

My mind: Are you f–king kidding me?

Silence again. More silence. And more.

Fia: “Mom, when can Emmett come with me?”

Me: “When this little girl goes down. What do you think?” I say, turning to the little girl.

Blank stare from girl while I fantasize about shoving her father off of the nearby jungle gyms.

I turn to the father: “Is she going to go down the slide?”

Father: “I’m not sure. I think she just wants to sit here.”

Me=dumbfounded. Speechless. Um, okay, so you are going to let her monopolize the slide? Are you an ape? What are you trying to teach your kid? And what about my kid who actually wants to use the slide your daughter is meditating on.

I can’t believe I didn’t say something directly to him. I should have. Instead I told Fia to go on down her slide and that we will find another place where she and Emmett can do something together. I said it loudly but that’s not good enough. I should have told him his behavior and “parenting”  was inexcusable.

What are these as-hole parents afraid of? That their kids will “freak?”  (Which by the way, is a dumb word to use on your kid. ie: Oh, so and so will “freak” if I don’t do xyz. I catch myself using it sometimes and have to remember how much I hate that word in relation to children. I can’t stand the labeling of our kids. Even worse is when you say “xyz will freak” in front of xyz. If you say your kid is going to freak then guess what? They are going to freak. You are teaching that to them.). Are parents afraid they will actually have to do some work as a parent and “make” their kid do the right thing? That their kid might cry (or “freak”) and you may have to be tough? To be a parent? I don’t get it.

Parenting is not easy. So if you sign up, then do the f–king work it entails to not produce overly whiny, cowardly, and/or bratty kids who aren’t taught the basic etiquette of society. The playground is a metaphor for a helluva lot more. So if you can’t teach them on the playground, how will you teach them in real life?

For all their faults, I have a hard time thinking my parents would have stood for any of this bulls–t. For the handful of things I disagreed with in Stephanie Mertz’s viral rant, she had some excellent points. The helicopter needs to crash and we need to press the restart button on proper parenting.

Bottom line: It’s not Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s: You Tell, Don’t Ask. Got it?

Do you coddle your kids? Take our quiz and find out what your parenting style is.

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Fia’s First Girl Fight

Monday, April 30th, 2012


I don’t think this milestone is for the baby book. But it did happen. Fia got in a fight at school. And unfortunately, I think she suffered the brunt of it.

Her pre-preschool called to tell me. I happened to be in my hypnotherapy session (ironic, as I’m learning peace), so Phil spoke to them. Apparently she and another girl were playing on the carpet and the teacher was at a table nearby. Next thing you know, Fia is sitting in a corner looking upset. I can’t believe she didn’t cry or scream. This is a girl who sobs for a bandaid when a pebble hits her pinkie. I think she was in a state of semi-shock.

No one actually saw what happened, but they think they were both fighting over a scarf (good god, it starts early). They think Fia may have then gone in to hug the girl… and the girl lashed out. She grabbed her nose area and did some good scratching. Not sure if her parents own nail scissors, but if not, maybe buy a pair? Then she bit her. Fia had welts on her arm from the tooth marks, but luckily it didn’t break the skin.

I know Fia’s hugging can get out of control, but since no one saw, I don’t want to jump to conclusions that that’s what was happening. The teacher had the girl apologize, and then had Fia sit in her office for comfort, where I guess she sat quietly. The picture of that breaks my heart–her little legs dangling off the chair, her head hanging low.  I’m sure she was shook up and had her feelings hurt.

I don’t want to be a helicopter parent. Nor do I want to be overly dramatic, as this is probably the first of many squabbles. But I can’t help but feel like a mama bear when my baby is hurt–physically, emotionally or otherwise.

When I went to drop her off the next day, I ran right into the other girl and her dad. Thinking I’d break the ice I said, “Hey–I hear we had a little incident yesterday.” Now if that had been me, I would have bent over backwards to apologize. Instead, the dad basically shrugged his shoulders and said, “Yeah, sorry about that. Her sister also has a lot of bite marks. Must be a phase…kids bounce right back.” Whhaaattt? You give my child welts and say it’s just “a phase?” What about a little discipline? Like “Don’t do that Anne?” If there’s one thing I can’t tolerate it’s RIE parents (ie: we just like to let the kids work it out themselves…). What utter bullsh-t. In this case, I don’t even think the dad has a parenting method. He was just oblivious. My friend Cassandra wrote a horrifying blog about lack of parenting she experienced on a playdate. This must just be part of motherhood.

I don’t get it though. I want my kid to treat others well and be treated well in return. I want to teach her that biting, hitting, even hugging is wrong when it’s not welcomed. I would think that would be a universal goal.

At any rate, Fia is fine and her war wounds have healed. And if she ever does hug too hard, believe me, I’ll swoop right in and put a stop to it. Because I’m that kind of parent.


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