Helicopter Mom

Your child is playing with my child on the playground. They looked like they were having fun, but something isn’t right. I start toward them.

“Helicopter mom,” you think as you roll your eyes.

“They’re just playing,” you say without any concern, when our elementary school children both have their hands on the same toy.

You think they need to sort it out for themselves. That I will get in the way.

You think they are playing a game. I can tell by my child’s face it is not.

He is defending his territory. But the toy is not his. If a fight ensues, it will not be because he wants to fight. But if he hits, he will be seen as the instigator. And I will be seen as the bad mom.

Your child will learn to stay away from my child. Another friendship lost.

He does not see how being territorial can damage relationships. In the here and now, his territory is all that matters.

Right now I am protecting him from himself. As I walk toward them, my child flails his arms at your child. I hope with all my heart that you didn’t see that. I hope you won’t judge me because of it.

I want my child to learn to share. I want him to manage his own emotions. I want him to have empathy for others.

I know you want the same thing for your child, and you see this as a teaching moment. But my son gets so wrapped up in emotion that playground lessons don’t stick.

That is why we teach him differently, about sharing, about empathy, about emotions. Because he cannot learn on the playground.

Your child plays with him later. Their play together is play. And I leave them alone, thankful that my child has a friend.

Yes, on the playground, I am a helicopter mom.


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