There has been a surprising amount of accusation levelled at me by both the old man and the teens about my mode of parenting recently.
The minute I am caught stalking, probing, over-organising, suffocating (NC’s words), or indeed ‘parenting’ (my words), NC starts making patronising whirring noises above my head.
Helicopter versus satellite parenting.
She appears to have forgotten the benefits of such intensive care – the ferrying from late night parties and testing of her knowledge in daily, quick fire breakfast rounds, just prior to her entry exam to selective school.
What none of my family seem to understand is that I am actually quite proud to be known as a helicopter parent.
I realise that it might be seen as wrong by some that I check the messages on my kids phones when they are in the shower and vet their friends on Facebook, or call them a minimum of ten times per day, but it is because I care.
I admit that the phone tracker may be a step too far.
And I admit that when you have helicoptered your child, it can be quite difficult to then get them out of the nest when you are finally ready for them to leave assert some independence.
But while I may be over intrusive bearing at times and have earned my right to be called a ‘helicopter parent’, the old man is without doubt a ‘satellite’ parent.
I have discussed the old man’s parenting invisibility cloak on this blog many times.
He is of the opinion that my approach to parenting, whereby I support and ‘scaffold’ our children’s development, will ultimately lead them to run away from home as soon as they can reach the free zone outside my tracking zone. He believes that his laissez-faire, ‘satellite’ approach, allows them to make mistakes and occasionally fail, meaning they have to face consequences. Yet while he remains a distant parent, his justification is that he will still be there to offer a reassuring arm in times of real need….say, before they actually kill themselves.
He calls this ‘teaching them about independence’; I call it child abuse.
When you have a satellite partner, you are effectively a single parent, except in moments of crisis. In my cynical opinion, a satellite parent only interferes when:
It will make them look more popular with the kids.
They are called upon in desperation, whereupon, because they are not used to parenting, they generally lose the plot and make matters far worse.
When their interference will serve themselves in some way eg. Refusing to allow the child do something because it will cost more money or mean that ‘the satellite’ will have to give up their own time ‘to parent.’
Don’t get me wrong, the typical ‘satellite’ loves their children, but they don’t want or like the responsibility of parenting.
And there are benefits to this style of parenting.
The ‘satellite’ parent rarely receives the ‘I hate you and when I’m older I will kill you slowly’ depth of communication with their offspring, because they are rarely involved in the minutiae of their child’s existence.
I imagine that most helicopter parents, like myself, are control freaks. Part of the reason parents like myself cannot let our children take responsibility for themselves or let go is because we want the best for them, in terms of their safety and reaching their full potential. We are over-protective because watching our children fail feels like a personal failure.
Of course, when they do fail, (because even a helicopter cannot hover and be there to pick up the pieces all the time), the satellite will then jump in quickly and blame the helicopter for not doing their job properly.
I’m Not A Helicopter Parent photo courtesy of Right Memes at http://www.flicker.com