Helicopter Parenting

I’ve been thinking about this subject quite a bit lately. The whole “helicopter” parent debacle. I was reading an article by Shannon Des Roches Rosa (who kicks much buttinski) over at Squidalicious where she tells the story of her son, Leelo, at the park. She preps her readers  by saying that Leelo is not a “free-range” boy, and that too much spontaneous and unstructured play is “risky”. 

Leelo wanted to play with the kids, which he normally does not want to do. Like all of us with kids on the spectrum, we have that moment. The A Bomb, aka the Anxiety Bomb which implodes and freezes our insides. Our normally functioning brains are reduced to cottage cheese as we frantically attempt to make some decision that will be best for our child at the time.  

That decision can have long lasting consequences. If it’s a good choice, there are rainbows and magical unicorns. If it’s a bad one, well..we all know what our children are capable of when their off their game in a major league way.  So, we tend to chose what is safe. We decide what will have the least amount of collateral damage or that which will not have us eat an entire box of Ring Dings. 

Today at karate, Nathan was frenetic. He could hardly stand still, jumping up and down, doing endless pushups. I was watching him do this and at one point did tell him to listen to his sensei, but then I left him alone. I felt bad I had interfered. I had to let him feel it out, to solve it on his own.

He came out after class and said,
 “Mom, I got a yellow stripe, that’s for character.”
“How was your character today?” I asked.
“I had bad character.” he replied.
“Why do you think you had bad character?” 
“I did not listen to Sensei and that’s what I’m supposed to do.” he said. 
“What can you do to change that for next time?”
“I will listen to Sensei!” he chimed.

I wish I had just left him alone. I felt very hovering Mother Ship-ish.

When I was a kid, I walked to school a half mile unsupervised at 5 years old. I had a key to my house and could walk in and spend the afternoon alone by the time I was 8. At the age of 12, I used to take the subway to downtown Boston alone. I was very free range before it evolved into supposed child abuse and neglect.  My mother’s criteria for intervention was if there was blood or I was suddenly engulfed in flames. I’m not quite that detached, but I struggle with making it easier and having him wrestle with things, ideas and concepts which may plague him. 

We had our three month goal assessment with Nate’s therapist and we discussed what we wanted to work on. Nate said he would work on his handwriting. I told him I wanted to work on his social pragmatics and his therapist said that she would work on his being more proactive in regards to making connections with friends (which tie in together). I think now giving Nate input in regards to his treatment is essential to his continued psychological, behavioral and social growth. He’s part of the plan, as he should be. He’s old enough and cognitive enough to be a voice in those decisions. 

So, to get back to Leelo…
After Shannon had her A bomb, she decided to let Leelo play:

He’s in the middle, just being a kid with autism, enjoying other neurotypical kids around him.

We can’t always let our children roam freely, but they do need to feel free sometimes. 

Read original post

Amy Sheridan on BloggerAmy Sheridan on Twitter
Amy Sheridan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.