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How many of us see it, you’re at the park and there is that one mom (or dad) who is standing there, playing with their child. Going down the slide with them, watching over their every move. Typically these parents are called helicopter moms or helicopter parents. Well I’ll raise my hand that this has been me. My child is at the age where she is exerting her independence. Everything is “I do” or “I don’t want your help.” She wants to select her own clothes, put on her own socks and shoes (even if they’re on the wrong feet), she wants to walk down the stairs alone, with hands on hips to prove she can do it. She wants to walk without her hand being held, even if we’re crossing the street. Obviously it is a totally normal stage of growth but as a parent it is a hard balance to find. How much independence is enough? How far do you let them push?
Last week we took Miss K to a park near the lake. With all of the rain we had this summer, the water is much closer to the shoreline and the park than normal. So obviously with a toddler in tow, I was super cautious of her every move. I did notice some parents sitting on benches, in full fledged conversations while their children played. Were they better parents for letting their children explore on their own? Was I a better parent for staying close? I don’t think there is a correct answer. It totally depends on the child and their stage in life. Maybe their kids looked like my kid but were actually 5 years old (which sometimes people think my kids looks like). Maybe they are the type that won’t run off or they’ve passed the exert the independence phase. Bottom line is that I was not there to judge them and I would hope that they weren’t there judging me.
I’ll never forget the first time someone commented that I was a helicopter mom. I stood there stunned. Huh, me, what? did he say that right? It was actually a street performer of all people, a guy dressed up like a clown making balloon animals. Seriously buddy do you have any idea who I am? Do you have any idea what I have accomplished in my life? Do you have any idea what I have survived through the years? Of course this is what I wanted to yell at him but didn’t. Rather I stood there stunned. This comment happened a few months ago and it really has stuck with me. I have no idea if anyone else in my group caught it, if they did, they played dumb. All I know is it has changed the way I handle some things when it comes to my child. If you know Miss K, you know she has a voice and has no problem expressing her opinions. There were times where I’d stifle this as it wasn’t the right place or time for it. But to hell with it. If she doesn’t like something, why shouldn’t she have the right to express it? Even at the age of three. Why do we try so hard to raise our daughters to always be ‘appropriate’? Is it because when she grows up if she acts like that she’ll be called a bitch? Is it if she asks for what she wants in the workforce she’ll be labeled as being too pushy? Well you know what, I’m totally okay with that. I’m helping to mold a future leader not a follower. I’m helping my daughter understand that it is okay to go for what you want, even when people tell you that you can’t do it, don’t deserve it or will never get it. I’m helping my daughter understand that once you sent your mind to something with hard work you can make it happen. I’m helping my daughter understand that she can conquer the world!