My Parents Hovered, but They Weren’t Helicopters

Image courtesy of creative commons license By: Iqbal OsmanCC BY 2.0 via

When I was growing up, I thought of my parents as being strict. I never thought of their rules as being anything but what they were, except when I turned sixteen. Then I thought the rules were a bit outlandish.

First off, I was never allowed to go somewhere alone, except if I was in a direct route to a particular destination, such as a friend’s house. My parents would know when I was leaving to go there and expected my return by 5 pm. I would oblige no questions asked, thinking this was the way things were supposed to be for girls. But they wouldn’t let me walk nor ride my bike downtown alone unless, once again, I was going to a friend’s house and we weren’t walking around downtown.

Downtown in Pepperell, when I was growing up, wasn’t anything spectacular. It was a small town with maybe three shops, a bank, and a pharmacy. I believe the population back then was around 6,000 people. That was back in the 1980’s. The size of Pepperell prevented one from getting into trouble.

I didn’t even know what cow tipping was back then. Something I learned about later in life. No – I didn’t knock over any cows. A coworker mentioned cow tipping one day and had to explain it to me.

Image courtesy of creative commons license By: Ben SutherlandCC BY 2.0 via

So my parents were strict. I get it. They kept telling me I couldn’t go anywhere alone because I was a girl. So they feared for my safety. I get it.

Were they helicopter parents?

I think had we had the cell phones that are around today, they might have become that kind of parent. Cell phones are the parent’s crutch to avoiding allowing their children to learn independence. Nowadays, many parents are bubble-wrapping their kids and leaving them that way well into adulthood.

Latchkey kids appear to be a thing of the past or looked down upon in today’s society. Bringing your child up this way is now considered neglect. Some parent experts want 24-hour supervision of children, even when they are in their twenties. I think this is a bit extreme. Sixteen is a great age to begin learning independence. These kids have to learn to fail, get into trouble, and make mistakes to learn by experience. If the parent fears for their safety, then teach them ways to stay safe and have their independence at the same time.

A little bit of common sense goes a long way!

Some parents will go to the college professor to fix their child’s bad grade. They will even go to the extreme of doing their college homework for them to be certain that they get a good grade.

How are they supposed to learn?

When my daughter was in sixth grade, she had trouble with her school work. Then one night as we sat down to do the homework, I realized who was doing it – Me!

That evening I said – no more. I sent a letter to the teacher the next day explaining that my daughter needed to complete as much of her homework in school as she could because she needed to be the one doing it, not me.

I’m not sure, but I think the teacher was grateful that I spoke up and told her I was doing all the homework for my daughter. How was she supposed to learn if I was doing it for her?

So the next time you catch yourself doing things for your kids, ask yourself who you are benefiting? You? Or your Child?

Don’t rob them of a learning experience.


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