Over the years, parenting experts and the media have debated over the controversial topic of helicopter parenting.  Helicopter parenting is often referred to as overprotective parents who hover closely around their children. Critics often describe such parents as constantly intervening on the behalf of their kids and covering up for their mistakes. They may even go so far as to complete basic tasks such as school work, job applications and calling their college kids in the morning to make sure they wake up in time for class. The overprotective strategies of helicopter parenting are described by critics as driven by the fear of losing control. They keep their children at very close range; constantly ‘hovering’ over them trying to make sure that no harm will come to them. Critics argue that the child will never develop a sense of confidence or the ability to take care of themselves, and they will take this behavior with them into adulthood.

I often question my own parenting style. I spend a good amount of time at my kids’ school talking to parents, teachers and administrators.  Over the years, I’ve volunteered many hours in classrooms, the library and at school events. My reason for being so involved in my kids’ school was so I can spend more time with them. At the same time, I help the teachers and get a first-hand experience on how my child is doing at school. I also spend a lot of time reviewing homework and helping my kids with school projects. I am highly concerned about what they eat, and only shop at health food stores and feed my kids organic foods. I help them pick out school outfits the night before and the list goes on!  So does this make me a helicopter parent?  I thought all the things I do for my kids is my responsibility and privilege, and part of being an involved parent. What about all the parents I know who are room parents, PTA presidents and organizers?  I am talking about those devoted parents who in addition to their parental duties, volunteer many hours at their children’s schools. Their volunteering work and extracurricular activities often keeps them busy into late evening hours.

I think being involved in your child’s life as much as you can is a blessing and should not be given a label or criticized. Helicopter parents are the ones that enrich not only their own children’s lives but in some instances, other children’s lives as well. Helicopter parents are the school volunteers, they are the ones who sell the school shirts, bake the brownies, set up end of the year parties, chaperon the dances, drive the carpools and keep score at the Little League games. They are the classroom moms, the coaches, the field trip contacts, the emergency phone tree heads and the teacher appreciation luncheon organizers. Without the contribution and hard work of such parents, some school events and fundraisers wouldn’t happen.

I am not condoning the type of parenting where you constantly tell your child what to do or do their homework for them. Kids need to explore, make mistakes and take risks in order to develop and grow into well-adjusted adults. However being involved in your child’s life and teaching them the importance of education, community and other life skills will leave a long term positive effect in their lives. What kind of parenting style do you have?