You’ve probably read articles on helicopter parents. In fact, I’ve already written about helicopter parents at least once. But I found an article via a friend’s Facebook page that put things in a different perspective. Kids who have helicopter parents tend to miss important developmental milestone that support independent living skills.
OK, think about that. How many self-care tasks can your child do on their own, such as folding and putting their laundry away, picking out an outfit for the next day, fixing a snack for themselves, doing simple cooking on the stove top or with an oven? Of course, these things all depend on the age of your child. But when you look at it like that, differences become noticeable.
In our family, we are fairly restrictive on where they go on their own. We have some walking paths we are comfortable with and our two-street neighborhood area is pretty safe overall. But we haven’t let our kids walk on busier streets near us or ride bikes if they aren’t on the path.
Does that make us helicopter parents? Well, consider this. Our 8-year-old daughter can make a batch of cookies with almost no help except putting the pan in the oven and reaching for things on high shelves. She measures, uses the mixer, and follows the recipe closely.
Our older daughters, ages 11 and 13, can do this completely unassisted and have done so many times. We only require that an adult is near the kitchen keeping a general eye on things (mostly me). Maybe that cancels out the restriction on traveling alone? I hope so for now. We know other kids in our neighborhood and school often walk and bike further from home alone. Maybe we hold them too closely on this issue. Maybe we’re being prudent.
All things in good time, I say. We are extra cautious about safety things where we have a lot less control, such as roadways. But I’m quite comfortable stretching the boundaries in my kitchen since I can be more hands-on.
I think when you understand your reasons and have some kind of time-frame on when those boundaries can stretch, you can avoid being a worry-wart without denying your kids some important growing opportunities. You just have to keep remembering that when you told your child at age 10 that they couldn’t walk down that big street, you still need to consider those reasons when they are 14 years old.
The author if this article mentioned something about a college-age babysitter who couldn’t manage the instructions on the back of a macaroni-and-cheese box. We may all have different time frames for letting our kids develop independent living skills, but hopefully we don’t let things go that far.
This discussion can go on far beyond the confines of this short post. What thoughts does this stir inside you about your kids’ milestones? What skills are you more hesitant to let them develop, and what skills do you easily push?