About Me

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A 40 something dad of five and a half wonderful kids with amazingly different traits and temperament from whom he wants a break from at times, yet wish they never grow older.....and be with him always.....(howzat possible?)and now wishing that he can be a stay at home dad......

14 March, 2007

Helicopter Parents

I read an article in the Star newspaper (the Education supplement) over last weekend which highlighted a term which was alien to me - none other than the title of this post. I don't know about you, this was my first time encountering such a term! Apparently this term has been used widely by the media and now I wonder where have I been?

Let me share with you wikipedia's definition of "Helicopter Parent":-

"A helicopter parent is a term for a person who pays extremely close attention to his or her child or children, particularly at educational institutions. They rush to prevent any harm from befalling them or letting them learn from their own mistakes, sometimes even contrary to the children's wishes. They are so named because, like a helicopter, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach whether their children need them or not."

There has been no research done as to the origin of this term but the existence of it dates back to 1991 where schoolteachers in America used it in a derogatory form labelling overbearing parents!

This reminds me of my daughter's first few years of school......six years back. I used to see her class teachers almost every other day for her progress; volunteering for school trips (even though the school didn't need any..BUT hey....she's my child and when I saw teacher-to-student ratio was much to be desired [in my standard that is..] I had to stand up for my rights); started a recycling programme for the school; founding and moderating a yahoo group for parents of students in my daughter's class; putting up and maintaining a website linked to the yahoo group; and a lot other things which I won't say them here. But the lackadaisical attitude of some teachers of a supposedly elite-all-girls school, which I transferred my daughter to for a year, smack in the middle of Kuala Lumpur put me off really to participate in any of the class or school projects or activities as I was dismissed, in a diplomatic way nonetheless, with my suggestions to improve certain things which I thought needed immediate atention. The following year, I pulled out my daughter and admitted her to another school which have fantastic teachers who work extra hours beyond school time ensuring that the kids get all the attention which they need! I'm glad we made that decision!

When I think about it now, after coming across the term subject of this entry, ...was I overbearing? I think not as the teachers could not cope with their workload and I was merely helping!

Anyway... a further extension to the term is "BlackHawks" - a term created for parents, to quote, "who cross the line from a mere excess of zeal to unethical behavior such as writing their children's college admission essays".

To a certain extent, Helicopter Parenting is great if you as a parent know the boundary. To me, as long as you are not suffocating your child and acting in your child's best interest your action is justified! It really boils down to your intention and the situation which warrants the necessary action!

I like what my friend's take about this " What do they (the child) know? They are not in a postion to think for themselves so you should take charge!" Absolutely right there! I suppose it depends on the age of the child really. You really need to learn to let go eventually and make your child responsible for their own action! A caveat to this - provided that you have equipped them with all the necessary knowledge!

Read these articles here, here (read the last part of this article! LOL) and here as a sampling of the pros and cons of being "Helicopter Parents"!


Xis said...

that's a good term actually.. I wonder if there's such thing called "helicopter lover".. hmm..

TRM said...

Am more of a "helicopter with a magnifying glass" type parent. Am trying to back off but really as you said what do the kids know anyway - they need us to inspect every minutae of their lives.

halwafy said...

Hello there.

What an interesting entry - enlightening indeed...Didn't know there was a term for my funny behaviour - spying on my 5 year old son playing during his playtime..he he he. He's very shy after all - had to know his progress in making friends new friends.

But really, we can't just wash our hands when we send them to school, don't you agree?

Hope you don't mind this new reader. Bloghopped from your sister's blog.

Dad of Four said...

Xis - Mmm...?

TRM - I suppose...backing off will be much later in life..Perhaps when they are ready to start their own family? LOL!

Halwafy - Welcome to my blog and thanks for the visit. U r right...teachers and parents must work hand in hand. I know of parents who just dump kids in schools and expect teachers to do miracles!

Helena said...

Dad of 4 : I make sure I know whats going on in my kid's school, their academic capabilities, their koko performance, etc. I monitor them with their homeworks, i assist and help them with their school projects. Does that make me a heli-parent?

But seriously, no way am I gonna such sit down, lepas tangan and tengok aje! (although I admit it is important for us to give them space and let them make their own decisions.... well to a certain extend that is... hehe)

Dad of Four said...

Helena - I think al of us have the "helicopter" syndrome within us....Most importantly is striking the balance when the time comes to slowly let go bit by bit when you have equipped your children with the necessary rope in life!

on my mind certainly constantly

on my mind certainly constantly