Helicopter Parenting: According to Wikipedia “is a colloquial, late 20th and early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to their child’s or children’s experiences and problems.” It is a parent who hovers “like a helicopter” over their child and intervenes too much when they see the child struggling vs. giving their child a chance to work things out on their own.
I am starting to feel like a helicopter parent when it comes to Leah. I am not like this with my other two daughters, one older and one younger than her. I give them quite a bit of room actually, to the point that some parents think I give them too much. Let’s just say, I was giving the opportunity to travel around Asia all expenses paid when my oldest was 2.5, and I didn’t even think twice about leaving her for 3 weeks with her grandparents.
Leah is different she has SPD, depression, and anxiety that causes really bad acid reflux. She also has some extreme behaviors that have had Dr.’s list other acronyms ODD, ASD, ADHD but no one wanting to commit to anything except SPD, depression and anxiety with the hopes she will get better as she gets older. Her father and I keep our fingers crossed that this will be true for her.
I hover over her and I really don’t want to. I feel I do it out of necessity to avoid the massive meltdowns and anxiety she experiences when I don’t hover. I feel like I am the only one that can tell when she is experiencing sensory overload. I have gotten so good at sensing it I can now intervene and do a sensory task before she erupts.
Her special needs teachers, her OT, her ABA therapist, and I, have been working very hard with her to try and get her to recognize when she is reaching her boiling point and giving her the tools and knowledge of what to do in those situations. She has made tremendous strides in being able to do this but she still has a long way to go.
Although my hovering seems to help her out and me being there lowers her anxiety, I am getting worn out in the process. When do I back off and just let her try to manage on her own?
Before she was born my husband and I were quite social, we had Leah’s older sister but we always managed to have a babysitter stay with her a few times a month so that we could go to a movie, see friends, or have a child free dinner. We entertained often and had friends and family to our house several times a month. Now we don’t! We are lucky if we do something child free every other month. Our friends have disappeared and the ones we still are in contact with, we are lucky if we see them every 6 months.
I know that my hovering is getting in the way of our social life because I can’t stand leaving them with a babysitter. Every time we get one it is never good. Leah always has a meltdown, they don’t know how to deal with her, and the next several days she is so thrown off that it takes a while to get things back on track. I have gotten to the point that I feel it just isn’t worth it, and that bothers me.
I have always thought that as a parent it is our job to help our kids grow up to be self-sufficient adults, to let them learn from their mistakes while giving them the tools to problem solve. By hovering so much I know that I am not doing this for her. When do I back off and let her work through her problems herself? By hovering am I prolonging this process? Is that a bad thing or a good thing taking into account her special needs? I just don’t know, but it is something I think about every once in a while.