For Playdates & Parties, Don’t be a Helicopter Parent
By Jo Frost
Recently, I overheard two rather loud child carers discussing this trend where more and more parents are taking their children to playdates and parties and staying the entire time at the event, even if they aren’t being asked to.
It made me wonder why. After all, these are the first steps of independence you will give your child and it is both a privilege and a right for them to experience such. It’s so important to give them that room to develop themselves outside of the family and socialize on their own like they do when they are at school, on the playground, etc. Your child needs to learn how to trust their own instincts as they grow by making decisions by themselves, reading situations, and socially learning how to mingle. Allowing your child this freedom also gives them opportunities to:
1) Be their best for themselves, even when you are not there (like at sports practice and summer camp)
2) Socialize independently with the grace and manners you’ve taught them (and referee their own differences)
3) Develop their own personal friendships without parents mollycoddling them and
allowing them the freedom to be silly without having to always be on their best behavior(remember kids all have their silly funny moments!)
4) Be their own moral compass and learn from their own behavior the impact they have on others (it helps them to learn empathy)
5) Focus, listen, and take instructions from other adults or authority (rather then only taking from their inner circle)
6) Feel confidant to go off to day camp and sleepovers on their own (where they can experience this independence for the first time)
Of course, it’s totally ok for parents to lend a cushion here and there, as your child learns how to be more resilient and independent. But being a helicopter parent can be suffocating to a child, it crosses personal space boundaries and can make a child feel stressed, being constantly watched over. It’s one thing to socialize with other moms and dads or make sure you know the parents or carers before dropping your kid off for a playdate or party (or perhaps having a chat upon pick up), but to turn up and stay the entire time is not allowing your child to become their own person. And, as a parent, teaching your child the skills on how to grow into a successful, functional adult is part of this process. Give them the room they need to explore, discover, form their own relationships, and make their own mistakes. They will bounce back because you are still guiding them…just not hovering over them.
Give children space, AND, most importantly, give YOURSELF those three hours to run errands, spend time with your significant other, your other children, friends, or yourself. This time should be just as important for allowing you to have the space to be yourself as it is for your child.
Now get out there and have some FUN!!! Yes, ALL of you!!