What Kind of Helicopter Parent Are You?

According to ABC News' Helicopter Parents Hover Over Kids' Lives, an ongoing nationwide study of parents conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has dissected today's overinvolved parents and placed us in the following five categories (which I have embellished based on real-life experience):

Black Hawk Parent
-- Gets angry and often overreacts to real or perceived slights to child such as a disappointing grade, exclusion from a party, rejection from private school or college. Goes straight to the top (teacher, principal, coach, admissions head, etc) when upset about treatment of child and has hard time seeing other parents', children's, or administrators' perspectives.

Toxic Parent -- Overly involved in child's development to the point of occasional paranoia. May Install nannycam in infant's room. Schedules playdates with every child in kindergarten to make sure kid is "popular." Logs onto teenager's MySpace page to research friends, activities, and social life. Calls college child several times a day to "check in."

The Safety Expert -- Approaches parenting as form of hypochondria. Has pediatrician's home number on speed dial; develops personal contact at Centers for Disease Control to keep informed about new childhood illnesses. Uses child leash in airports and crowded shopping malls. Organizes meetings to improve school safety emergency plans. Considers moving to North Dakota to avoid terrorist threats. Does not let child use public transportation alone -- at any age.

The Consumer Advocate -- Sees child as an investment and parental role as "standing up for child." Constantly negotiating for child -- starting position on soccer team, lead in school play, discounts for educational expenses.

Traffic and Rescue Parent -- Swoops in at first hint of trouble at school, in social life, on college campus to protect child from any form of difficulty or failure.

So fess up. Which type(s) are you? Which kind do you think is the most destructive to children and balance? Which parenting style drives you craziest?

I think I'm a bit of The Consumer Advocate and The Safety Expert (cars and pools, ahhh!). All of these parenting styles, taken to the extreme, are bad for kids. And hard on parents, too.

Come on, it's Friday. Time to tell all. You'll have the weekend to recover from your candor.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 12, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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First

Posted by: btpduc748 | October 12, 2007 7:12 AM

See I am a helicopter bloggist today albeit an Orwell Parent: War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Whisper is Scream

Posted by: btpduc748 | October 12, 2007 7:16 AM

Hook 'em!

Sorry, Leslie, I'm more a Slacker Parent. I'm just too damn lazy to do a lot of this stuff. :-) But if anything, I'm the Safety Expert. The only times I really feel the urge to "swoop in" is when the little "not safe" alarm goes off in my head -- pools, crossing streets, bicycling, etc. etc. etc. I work on keeping that in check and making sure things are appropriately safe without squashing their independence (like they'd let me do that anyway).

My husband is mostly hands-off and lets the kids find stuff out for themselves, but can sometimes veer towards Black Hawk parent when there are other people involved. You should have seen how pissed off he got this Monday when he realized DD had an hour's worth of homework, again, just because they can't figure out how to space out the assignments (the rest of the week she has so little she gets it all done at school). He made me write a note to the teacher (although I'm sure he's disappointed anyway, as I refused to "tell her where to get off," as he requested).

Posted by: laura33 | October 12, 2007 8:17 AM

Laura, I'm with you. I'm certainly not about to fight my kids' every battle. I'm here to make sure they're polite, respectful, vaccinated, and hopefully to instill a lifelong love affair with learning and travel. The rest is for them to figure out. What lessons are learned when someone else fights for you?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 12, 2007 8:19 AM

OK, I see tendencies in many of these, especially Blackhawk and consumer, in myself. The issue is how we act on the tendencies. I have twins applying for college right now, and am looking for the balance between being helpful, supportive, and letting them develop independence to be on their own next year. It's hard!

Posted by: kirstenpaulson | October 12, 2007 8:41 AM

Hhm. I haven't even been a parent for two year yet, so I haven't had time to develop too many helicopter tendencies. I have noticed that lately, I have to fight to remember that DD is not a baby anymore, and she doesn't need me to fight all her battles. The other day, she got into a struggle at the playground, where an older boy tried to stop her from playing on the equipment. It took all my willpower not to run right over an intervene, but they did manage to work it out themselves.

Posted by: newsahm | October 12, 2007 8:44 AM

What is the category for parents who accompany their kids to job interviews & intervene when their kids get less than stellar performance evaluations?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 12, 2007 8:53 AM

The blog today isn't really geared toward non-parents, but I can comment on my mom's parenting style.

My mom was a toxic parent with some traffic and rescue tendencies. It was expected for me to get straight As in school and be involved in basketball, piano, girl scouts, volunteering, church (as an altar server), babysitting, softball, horseback riding, etc. Everything was a competition: ribbons in horseback riding, trophies in sports, badges in scouts, recitals in piano. It was never ending.

When I got old enough, I told my mom that I hated competition (still do) and that I didn't want so many activities.

The backlash was that she still wanted me to succeed, so she offered to help with high school assignments, helped me apply for college, helped with the transfer processes, and always gave me money. I liked all the help for a while because I could slack off. But I finally wised up stopped letting her help.

BTW, she's my best friend now and would agree with me about all of this. We always admitted our mistakes, and I wasn't scarred for life.

Posted by: Meesh | October 12, 2007 8:59 AM

What is the category for parents who accompany their kids to job interviews & intervene when their kids get less than stellar performance evaluations?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 12, 2007 08:53 AM

Whack Job.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 12, 2007 9:00 AM

Put me among the slacker parents.

I have a life, and it's not contingent on anything my kids do, they've done good -- and it has very little to do with me!

So all you blackhawk folks out there - remember it's OK to kick back, do your work, keep food on the table, those car pools running. Beyond that what your kid does is his/her own accomplishment.

Posted by: RedBird27 | October 12, 2007 9:07 AM

If I have to pick one I relate to the most, it would be safety expert. When my twins were 2 and I had a newborn, they both wore leashes at the mall, zoo, etc, but it was more for my sanity than their safety.

I think I relate most to the slacker category realistically. There are too many of them to fight all the battles that arise. I try to offer good advice so they can handle it themselves and only intervene when absolutely necessary.

Posted by: michelewilson | October 12, 2007 9:13 AM

I'm not in any of those categories (other than being safety conscious, which is a must, given that I have horses and my mother is an R.N.). However I know my kids are busy (see marching band!) and have fvck-around time too. All kids should have the opportunity to go out and watch the ants for an hour or more. I've not advocated a "better" part or position for them. Instead I have this background drone going that says, "Hard work makes for better luck" and "If you really wanted _________ you'd hustle harder to earn the money/rate the gift".

I'll ask about homework, I'll sign off on the tests and homework lists, I'll supply the tools and stuff to get things done, I'll massage the littlest ego through the project, but I won't do it for them.

Sometimes I think people mistake self-worth (which is a given) with self-esteem (which is earned through one's own efforts). Maybe that's where the best-of-the-worst Helicopter Parents come from?

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 12, 2007 9:17 AM

Personally, I'm a little bit of "Consumer Advocate" and a little bit of "Traffic and Rescue" but I try to keep it under control. The kids live their own lives.

I do try to make the kids understand the consequences of their choices, but then let them make them. We let DS pick which high school he went to (he was accepted at two different Catholic high schools). He picked the one I didn't want, which drove me nuts for a couple of weeks, but it's his life.

Oldest DD is currently majoring in English in college; she wants to be a writer and eventually get into publishing. We had a long talk about the career path, salaries in that field vs. engineering, etc. (She's very good in math and science, but doesn't like them.) But then she picked her own field, and I got over it. :-)

I will note that if kept within reason, a lot of the things mentioned in this article are not necessarily bad. When my kids had MySpace pages, I logged in and looked at them to see what they were posting, because I was concerned about their privacy. And I did check out their friends' pages, too - I warned one girl that she had inadvertently posted her home address and phone number.

(BTW, if you weren't aware, for teens these days MySpace is passe. FaceBook has been hot but that's dying; Tribe seems to be coming in.)

And yes, when DD was given the name of her college roommate I did Google the girl to find out what I could. :-) (All I found out was that the girl is a competitive swimmer who's on the college swim team. A friend of mine found out that his daughter's roommate had three arrests for prostitution.)

But they have to fight their own battles and live their own lives. I just train 'em up and then set them free.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 12, 2007 9:21 AM

self-worth: belief in self: confidence in personal value and worth as an individual person

self-respect: two kinds of esteem needs -- the need for respect from others and the need for self-respect. Maslowian self-esteem entails competence, confidence, mastery, achievement, independence, and freedom. Respect from others entails recognition, acceptance, status, and appreciation.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 12, 2007 9:24 AM

Army Brat:

"But they have to fight their own battles and live their own lives. I just train 'em up and then set them free."

You put that so much more succinctly and eloquently than I did. I'm going to have to remember that one, thanks!

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 12, 2007 9:26 AM

Taken to extreme, I think I have all the tendencies of these helicopter parents...but my kids are still young so I have not exhibited all of them yet. I know that I have them and I need to control myself. At this point in their lives, I am the so-called safety expert. But I find that I am developing these traits because I feel that from the safety point of view parents need to be always on guard. Look at the recent recalls of toys, lead paint in DC parks, and the most scary, school shootings. When I visit the pediatrician's office, I feel that he/she has less than 10 minutes to spend with us. As a result, I often feel that she/he might have missed something important. A friend actually had an experience when her children's pediatrician MISSED their pneumonia by not listening to their lungs. Should a parent now remind a doctor to listen to a sick kid's lungs? And because of the nature of my job, I am familiar with terrorism and general emergency situations and the havoc they can create. So my family does have an evacuation plan, which I hope we will never use.......

Posted by: tsm | October 12, 2007 9:32 AM

I am the "detached parent" It is a jungle (sea) out there, dog eat dog, shark eat shark. The children have to step up for themselves. Our family motto, "adapt or die!"

Posted by: nonamehere | October 12, 2007 9:51 AM

Mako

I am the "detached parent"

And husband. Mrs. Mako is out with Sharkie making some more babies!

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 12, 2007 9:55 AM

None of the above. Slacker Parent. My spouse has definite Black Hawk tendencies, though.

Posted by: shandavegh | October 12, 2007 9:55 AM

"Taken to extreme, I think I have all the tendencies of these helicopter parents...but my kids are still young so I have not exhibited all of them yet."

That's interesting -- I feel like the "helicopter" traits I have are BECAUSE my kids are so young. Like I said earlier, I'm Safety Mom -- but my kids are 6 and 2, so I HAVE to be! Basically, I am very, very conscious that they for the most part don't yet have the judgment or knowledge to recognize and avoid/deal with dangers. So it's my job to look out for those things.

I think the problem comes because having that responsibility can sometimes be overwhelming -- when you really start looking out for dangers, you realize how many ways your kids can get hurt. And the little voice in your head points out Every Single One, like a freaking running color commentary. So it's not that much of a stretch to think, well, but if I'm always there, always on guard, I can keep them safe. Of course, (a) you can't, and (b) it wouldn't be doing them any favors if you could.

So you have to find this balance between safety and independence, between paying attention to the little voice when it matters (like picking up and carrying the two year old when he does the tantrum flop in the middle of the street), and turning it off when the kids are playing on the jungle gym, or when you're just fretting about stuff you can't do anything about.

Posted by: laura33 | October 12, 2007 9:57 AM

I suppose I'd be at risk for being a Black Hawk parent if my kids would let me. There are days I'd like to take some of those homework assignments straight to the school board and the superintendent and complain. And when other kids are mean to my kids -- geez I'd like to beat the crap out of them. But my kids say no way and they muddle through, take their lumps. My kids are smarter than I am most days.

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 12, 2007 10:00 AM

Never said I was a "detached spouse." Mrs. Mako and I rub fins every day!

Posted by: nonamehere | October 12, 2007 10:01 AM

I can honestly say that none of those labels apply to me. I must be one of the "slacker" parents.

But they all apply to my mother-in-law, who still behaves this way with her grown daughter.

Posted by: viennamom | October 12, 2007 10:01 AM

None of the above and frankly I find the idea that if you are involved in your children's lives, that there really must be something neurotic about you. I find the tone and terms highly demeaning to parents everywhere.

OFF TOPIC to DANDYLION: I was not aware you were visually impaired, my apologies

Posted by: pATRICK | October 12, 2007 10:43 AM

I am probably a consumer advocate and safety parent.

I am strict about belted sitting in a car seat and in a crowded subway DD (age 6 on Sunday) must hold my hand. In a less crowded place she has to be able to turn
and see me. If not she freezes until I find her. She also knows her address and home phone number.

I don't want to fix everything but I want to give her variety of experiences and let
her find her own way. I can already tell we
have different styles and I want her to develop, grow, and thrive in her special way.

Posted by: shdd | October 12, 2007 10:50 AM

discounts for educational expenses.


This also infuriates me. Whenever someone charges a price, you are in a BUSINESS transaction and should treat it accordingly. Asking for discounts may upset the ivory tower bureaucrats but only an idiot would ever accept paying anything without questioning it or bargaining.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 12, 2007 10:53 AM

I also must be one of those slacker moms, with some exceptions:

1. Seatbelts must be on in the car, helmet when he is on his bike, that sort of thing.
2. I would rather drive the kid to school than let him take the bus. There have been some incidents with bullying on the bus that I just don't want to deal with.
3. I still make him hold my hand when we cross the street. He is 7.
4. I am pretty anal about having healthy food in the house, and carrying healthy snacks around when we are out.
5. I insist on reading for fun every night. At first, my son resisted and complained, but now, he loves our reading time, and gobbles books up like chocolate chip cookies. I think I enjoy it as much as he does.
6. We have a pretty strict bedtime schedule: 9:00 pm on schoolnights, 10:00 pm on weekends.

Other than that, I am pretty flexible about other things, and don't have much of an inclination to hover or control. He seems to navigate things pretty well without much interference from me.

Posted by: Emily | October 12, 2007 11:16 AM

I am the safety parent. I tend to follow my daughter's every move on the play ground or camp ground. I am also an advocate but I really need to be because she is on the autism spectrum. My husband tends to fight all her battles. He comes home and always tells me that he thinks some kid is picking on her or grabbing her stuff. But overally, she is still young so we have not developed too many helicopter tendencies. I am pretty hands off with the school and day care. As long as her needs and educational goals are being met, I don't worry too much.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 12, 2007 11:20 AM

I don't know how this will(?) fit into the scheme of things, but I will confess that if the kids get into college and I contribute money to it, then I want to see their grades at the end of the semester.

Now, if they foot the bills, then it's not my issue. But if they prove to be a bad financial investment (flunking out of college on MY dime), then I'll pull the funding. They know this. Hopefully if it comes to that, they'll know who to talk with to catch up, drop courses, etc. They really will not want to hear me out if they squander my cash.

Hopefully, I'll never find out!

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 12, 2007 11:21 AM

Emily, you win today's "Most Sane Poster" award. Your house sounds really nice. Although I think it's okay to let him walk next to you in the crosswalk within the next year or two, without holding hands.

I am a lot of Slacker Mom too. My favorite parenting style. And my husband gives me grief about it, because I refuse to take the kids to the doctor, the speech pathologist, the running coach, at the first sign of trouble. But I have THREE KIDS. I've been a mom for 10 grueling years. I can't keep up all the Helicoptering or I will go (even more) nuts. And that's not good parenting. So I'm kind of a Slacker by default.

Anybody else out there just plain old TIRED?

Posted by: leslie4 | October 12, 2007 11:39 AM

"I still make him hold my hand when we cross the street. He is 7."

Emily, my 4 year old holds my hand when we cross the street. He's afraid I might get hit by a car. Hahaha! :-)

Posted by: DandyLion | October 12, 2007 11:41 AM

what's a running coach?

Posted by: gottabeanon | October 12, 2007 11:48 AM

I'm 90% slackermom, 10% Safety Expert.
I work with state epidemiologists and am way too aware of horrible childhood illnesses. BUT I don't assume that ever fever is meningitis. I did correctly diagnose impetigo before the doctor did.

He wears a helmet when he bikes and holds my hand crossing the street, but I let him play unattended in our yard.

When he gets a little frustrated and whines and says he can't do something, I make him try again and tell him how to do it. If he still can't do it, I'll help him. Usually the next time he's figured it out for himself.

Why squash their independence when you can help them learn for themselves?

Posted by: kirstin | October 12, 2007 11:50 AM

"I've been a mom for 10 grueling years. I can't keep up all the Helicoptering or I will go (even more) nuts. And that's not good parenting. So I'm kind of a Slacker by default."

I think it turns out to be that way when you have more than a couple of kids. My mom had 4. She says she raised her first child (me), and the other 3 grew up by the grace of God. LOL. My mom still feels guilty about my youngest brother, of whom we have few milestone pictures. I think we have his birth picture, and lots of pictures of him with the other kids, but none of the "first day of kindergarten" or "first missing tooth" variety. Things were just too busy. But he seems to have grown up just fine, despite the neglect of being the youngest of 4.

Posted by: Emily | October 12, 2007 12:05 PM

What is the category for parents who accompany their kids to job interviews & intervene when their kids get less than stellar performance evaluations?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 12, 2007 08:53 AM

Marie Barone ;~D

Posted by: cjbriggs | October 12, 2007 12:05 PM

Leslie - if you want to feel tired read this

http://marathonmoms.runnersworld.com/2007/10/who-needs-sleep.html

Granted she CHOSE to train for a marathon while being a mom to two kids under five... but she defines tired for me today!

No kids but I hope and pray the worst hovering I do is of the safety variety.

Posted by: tntkate | October 12, 2007 12:07 PM

". . . an ongoing nationwide study of parents conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has dissected today's overinvolved parents and placed us in the following five categories."

Posted by Leslie Morgan Steiner '87 | October 12, 2007; 7:00 AM ET

Must we label people? And what kind of "helicopter" labels are these? OK, the Black Hawk is a helicopter, but I was disappointed not to see any other names of helicopters. I am surprised that Army Brat wasn't also disappointed. How are we supposed to match up "toxic," "safety expert," "traffic & rescue," and "consumer advocate" with real helicopters like Apache, Sea Stallion, Kiowa, and Chinook?

The closest we came to helicopters is when we gave our first child two middle names, one of which is "Huey."

"Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jack knife has MacHeath, dear
And he keeps it out of sight

"When the shark bites with his teeth, dear
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves though wears MacHeath, dear
So there's not a trace of red."
-- Marc Blitzstein, "Mack the Knife"

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | October 12, 2007 12:12 PM

Matt: Huey -- after Newton, Lewis or Baby?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 12, 2007 12:18 PM

I have a very dear friend, who can't seem to suppress her helicopter tendencies. She calls the school every day to make sure that they have not changed the lunch menu for that day (because her daughter won't eat certain things, and she packs a lunch on that day). But apparently, sometimes the school switches the lunch menu without notifying the parents, and then the kid sometimes won't eat, and it is a problem if she does not have a packed lunch with her.

She calls the school to make sure her daughter wears her sweater (or jacket or coat) when during the recess when the weather is chilly. She calls the school to make sure that the kids aren't sent outside when it is too cold or too hot. She says all the teachers know her, as well as the secretarial staff and nurse and principal. She even calls the school to make sure her daughter goes to the bathroom at least too times (because she apparently has a tendency to hold it all day -- and my friend fears a UTI will develop).

It is pretty comical to hear her tell about it. She knows she is compulsive. She just can't help herself.

Posted by: Emily | October 12, 2007 12:19 PM

I meant to type "two times". Yikes!!!

Irishgirl must have had the baby. She has not been around lately.

Posted by: Emily | October 12, 2007 12:21 PM

Matt -- I hear you, and you're right: we are PEOPLE not labels. I don't mean all of this too seriously. But there are some grains of truth in these labels, at least for some people.

A running coach -- good god, it's true, you can hire someone to teach your child to RUN. turns out our son, who lives and breathes for sports, runs really funny, flapping his arms (think he gets this from me). track coaches can teach you little tricks like "keeping your wings in" (keeping your arms close to your body) and other things so that your footwork is better. We didn't hire a running coach but both our son and I have been doing footwork drills and it actually makes a difference. I can now run up stairs (even with laundry in my arms) a whole lot faster.

Posted by: leslie4 | October 12, 2007 12:22 PM

leslie -- thx for the definition, but you needed to pay someone to tell you that?

Posted by: gottabeanon | October 12, 2007 12:29 PM

When we had our first kid, we would wash the pacifier when it fell on the floor...

By our 4th child, we just let him eat dirt.

And when the kids hit middle school, their parents turn into a transport helicopter.

Posted by: DandyLion | October 12, 2007 12:31 PM

Oh, I'm slacker parent.

When I was in grad school, I taught the undergrads. I failed a student for doing very poorly. His mom actually called the head of the math dept to complain. I was shocked. Really, I think she was upset he might lose his scholarship, then she'd have to pay for him to fail out her own self.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 12, 2007 12:37 PM

My in laws are helicopter parents, but only for their daughters. My DH is out to fend for himself.

They knew every paper my sister in law handed in - in college and in grad school. Each test, etc.

Now, they help them buy cars, go to the dealership, are there when closing on houses, are there for every little thing. Poor girls can't do a thing for themselves.

Us, we're on our own. DH knows HE got the better end of the deal, but he's still upset about it. Inlaws babysit at the drop of the hat for their daughter, it's like pulling teeth for us to ask them.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 12, 2007 12:41 PM

yep, believe it or not...and that is the real question: why do parents need others so much?

emily, your friend sounds so crazy! at least she knows it. but i feel like her daughter is going to rebel one day.

one of my relatives (a girl my age) had a very toxic mom. i remember once her mom called my apartment 100 times in one day trying to reach her daughter. we counted! and refused to answer the phone. it was a compulsion.

Posted by: leslie4 | October 12, 2007 12:42 PM

Emily: Maybe your friend should see a therapist? My cousin is a terrible worrier (gets it from her mom) and she went and now takes something like zoloft and is doing great. Still worries, but not the same.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 12, 2007 12:55 PM

AtlMom - are your in-laws helicopter grandparents too? We have that situation in my family (My aunt is primary caregiver to 2 of her grandchildren and the lines are little blurry sometimes. The attachment is perhaps a little too strong to grandma...)

Posted by: tntkate | October 12, 2007 12:57 PM

tntkate: not really. They are worried for 2 of the grandkids, since they're being raised by DH's sister and her husband (don't get me started on THAT horrendous household!). They are trying to stay out of a lot - but, as I mentioned, they are definitely taking the two kids A LOT and babysitting, picking kids up at daycare, etc.

But not for us so much.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 12, 2007 12:59 PM

Helo Parents? Might be a song in this! Let me see...


BTW, Mako, get an ocean! (rubbing fins, geeze!)

Posted by: Songster | October 12, 2007 1:00 PM

i also had a friend who had a terrible, terrible problem worrying about the safety of her kids. frantic anxiety that one of them would be hurt/killed/etc. she took an anti-depressant SSRI for about three years and it helped her tremendously.

Posted by: leslie4 | October 12, 2007 1:03 PM

The reason schools and colleges are concerned about the parental hovering is that ultimately it costs resources! My kids go to an elementary school with almost 900 kids and the middle school is even larger. Not try to imagine if every parent was like the lady Emily described -- calling the school multiple times a day and showing up at the drop of a hat. How would the school staff function?

My kid's classes are so crowded that we have thirty trailers outside the school -- and yet we have one Whack Job who shows up every day to eat lunch with her sons, and frequently she brings her husband along too. Imagine if every parent did that. They'd have to build a new cafeteria.

Many universities across the US have had to add a new staff person whose official job is to be the parent liaison and deal with the additional phone calls and visits from parents. Guess who they are passing that cost on to? That's right, all the sane parents.

And I think sometimes you can build up this competitive cycle where if parents sense that one child is getting special treatment because his mom is so involved in the school, then others will start to follow suit and then the problem compounds. I really respect schools that have strong policies about the limits of parent involvement.

Posted by: justlurking | October 12, 2007 1:03 PM

To the tune of Secret Agent Man (by Devo?)

There's a child who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets mom wants to stay a stranger
With every move he makes another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow

Super Safety mom, super safety mom
You've given him a helmet and taken away your pain

Trying to meet every face that you find
But those nanny faces can hide an evil mind
Ah, be careful what you say
And make sure you call every day
Maybe your kids won't live to see tomorrow

Toxic parent man, Toxic parent man
You're arranging all her play dates and taking away her fun

Super Safety Mon, Toxic parent man
You've given your cell phone numbers and taken away their fun

Calling on the school one day
And then layin' it to the coach the next day
Oh no, you really lost your grip
While trying to be hip
The odds your kid won't be the starter

Helo parent twins, helo parent twins
You've given all your number and taken 'way their fun.

Posted by: Songster | October 12, 2007 1:19 PM

justlurking: "Many universities across the US have had to add a new staff person whose official job is to be the parent liaison and deal with the additional phone calls and visits from parents. Guess who they are passing that cost on to? That's right, all the sane parents."

Yep. And oldest DD's college (which already sends us weekly newsletters by e-mail) announced last month that they're starting a "Parent Advisory Council" that will recommend ways to improve college/parent relationships. I looked at DD and laughed; she was already laughing.

(Since all of those e-mail newsletters contain at least one request for money, I'm wondering how much parents who want to be on the council will be asked to cough up!)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 12, 2007 1:22 PM

Yea, Army Brat,

Makes you think what happened to the principal of "In loco parentis"

Maybe home school for college pretty soon!

Posted by: Songster | October 12, 2007 1:27 PM

I'm a new mom, so I'm a my-child-is-the-best-one mom right now. No other child can compare. She's 9 months, and I'm just now able to see other kids as cute. I'm still working on it for the children of people I dislike. I assure you, I KNOW she's average, but in my heart she's exceptional in every way.

Posted by: atb2 | October 12, 2007 1:33 PM

I'm going to indulge in a little OT rant because I don't know any of you. Please skip or delete if not interested. I have to vent, but can't do so locally because the stay at home momfia would have their way with me. I am sick and tired of people I hardly know "inviting" me to "Parties" at their homes to "showcase" jewelry, home decor, skin care products etc.. If I'm not interesting enough to invite over without my wallet, why invite me with my wallet. On top of that, it isn't a "fun evening with the girls", it is so and so's opportunity to trade on "friendship" to get me to buy their stuff as if we don't all have ample opportunity to shop. Frankly, if I haven't been invited over socially, I find it insulting to be invited over only with my checkbook. I can't think of any way to stop these women and I'm loathe to engage them because I have to see and intereact with them in the community (my kids too) but they make me crazy. The lack of shame and sheer, unmitigated gall of these gals and their "businesses" is almost too much to bear. I don't know if this happens to women at work too - if not, count yourself lucky! Thank you for the venue. catharsis achieved.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 12, 2007 1:36 PM

My co-worker, a retired Army aviation LTC, claims that the solution to helicopter parenting is to remove the Jesus nut.

(Okay, the explanation of that is that helo experts refer to the nut at the top of the rotor mast that holds the rotor onto the body of the bird as the "Jesus nut". Because if it comes off in flight, you're going to be saying a lot of things in the little time you have before you hit the ground.)

Removal of the Jesus nut? There's an Ann Coulter joke in there somewhere.

Oh, come on, it's Friday. Whaddya want? Besides, that's not as bad as my 3:10 post yesterday.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 12, 2007 1:37 PM

When examining the roster of our 5th grader at the beginning of school this year, my wife noticed that all the children of the PTA/Daily volunteers just happened to be concentrated in the classroom of the "cool" teacher.

My wife wanted to write a letter of complaint, but my only thought was, "Poor teacher!"

Posted by: DandyLion | October 12, 2007 1:43 PM

"Matt: Huey -- after Newton, Lewis or Baby?"

Posted by: mehitabel | October 12, 2007 12:18 PM

None of the above, senhora dos gatos. One of his brother's middle names is Louis. One of his other brother's middle names is Dewey.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | October 12, 2007 1:48 PM

OT to moxiemom: Glad you feel better and I share your thoughts on those damn "parties". The stuff is generally something I wouldn't buy elsewhere for quality, style, or any number of other reasons. At home sales parties are right up there with school fundraising -- the pits.

Leslie - school fundraising as a topic?

Posted by: tntkate | October 12, 2007 1:49 PM

Dandy, Not only "Poor teacher!" but also "Poor kids!" How are they going to develop into responsible adults if their parents are overly involved? Childhood is the time when kids are suppose to learn independence, step-by-step.

To atb: Instead of "average," try substituting the word "normal," then reread your post :-)))

Posted by: mehitabel | October 12, 2007 1:50 PM

Matt, that borders on child abuse! (If I believed you).

Posted by: mehitabel | October 12, 2007 1:51 PM

MDMom (right, it was you?): you are correct - you are entitled to transcripts when you are paying for the education. When I was in grad school - mom and dad got to see nothing, since they weren't paying for it.
Same goes with living under my roof. You don't like it? you can pay for it yourself...;)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 12, 2007 1:52 PM


"I am sick and tired of people I hardly know "inviting" me to "Parties" at their homes to "showcase" jewelry, home decor, skin care products etc.."

I'm right there with you. Those parties are infuriating, and it's even worse when the perpetrator has never shown an interest in knowing you before. There's one woman on the cul-de-sac behind me who I'd never even seen before, but invited me to a candle party. She was apparently too busy to introduce herself when we moved it, but found the time when there was money in it for her.

Luckily, I have absolutely no compunction about saying no in these situations. After all,it's not like I'm ever going to see this woman again (well, until her next party, that is...)

Posted by: newsahm | October 12, 2007 1:56 PM

Last year, I volunteered coordinating extracurricular science classes for K and 1st grade at my son's school. When we were setting up the classes, we asked parents to indicate which days worked best for them, in order to accomodate schedules as much as possible. I was flabbergasted at the sense of entitlement some parents displayed. After we had made arrangements for class days and schedules, according to the preferences of each kid's parents, I was bombarded by multiple requests to change a day, because little Jimmy wants to be in the same class as little Johnny, and one parent even wanted me to drive his kid after class to a daycare center that was not at the school. Another parent wanted all the CVs for the volunteer teachers, so that she could decide what class to put her daughter into. I denied all of the special requests as graciously as possible, but I was appalled by the demanding tone of these parents, who seemed to think that the volunteer coordinators were their employees rather than parents just helping out.

Posted by: Emily | October 12, 2007 1:56 PM

Oh, BTW - Did anybody see Ugly Betty last night? It just speaks to the power of flan.

Posted by: Emily | October 12, 2007 2:01 PM

"Matt, that borders on child abuse! (If I believed you)."

Posted by: mehitabel | October 12, 2007 01:51 PM

They asked for it. Literally. When the two oldest were 5 and 3, we used to sit on the couch in the apartment and read them Donald Duck stories. And the boys used to ask, ¿when is Dewey coming? At first, we had to tell them that babies are not something you can order on demand -- we might not get another one. Later, when their mother got pregnant, we told them they might get Dewey, or they might get a little sister. One of them wanted the little sister, because then we would buy her girl-type toys that they could also play with. The other one wanted Dewey. And Dewey is what we got.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | October 12, 2007 2:03 PM

Army Brat, send me the instructions for removing the Jesus nuts (hmmm, I teach in a Catholic school...better be careful here...)

And I agree about those stupid parties -- the only ones I go to are the ones where I already socialize with the hostess (our faculty sort of rotates hostessing them as an excuse to have happy hours)

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 12, 2007 2:04 PM

ON the subject of the parties, my kids were just joking about all the stuff they got in their Halloween trick or treat baskets last year that wasn't candy! It included one lady's flyers for her real estate business, business cards for someone's Mary Kay business and a couple of religious tracts. We're still trying to decide what WE should enclose with our Halloween treats this year. Not that y'all would have any good suggestions or anything . . .

Posted by: justlurking | October 12, 2007 2:06 PM

Si, señora, the power of flan. That was great!

Posted by: mehitabel | October 12, 2007 2:07 PM

We're still trying to decide what WE should enclose with our Halloween treats this year. Not that y'all would have any good suggestions or anything . . .

Just to cause the uproar of the year... condoms!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 12, 2007 2:16 PM

moxiemom: always love hearing from you!

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 12, 2007 2:17 PM

"We're still trying to decide what WE should enclose with our Halloween treats this year. Not that y'all would have any good suggestions or anything . . ."

There's always the old standby - from "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" - the group would go to a house, yell 'trick or treat' and each child would get something. Leaving the house, each child would excitedly call out what he or she got. Last would always be Charlie Brown: "I got a rock!"

(The problem with that approach is that kids who AREN'T Charlie Brown can return the rocks to you by, um, throwing them through your windows. Probably best to skip that idea.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 12, 2007 2:26 PM

Thanks altmom - I knew I could count on this group as I complain about the "challenges" of my bourgeois, SAHM life! I try to remember that if this is as bad as it gets, I'm pretty darn lucky! I do truly appreciate the good humor and sarcasm of the OB gang (that's On Balance, not Obstetrics. They are a decidedly less funny group!) As an aside, I think these treats at school are way out of control. Isn't that what trick or treating is about? We get tons of stuff for every holiday as if each mom is trying to outdo the others with more and more elaborate goody bags. How did this happen?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 12, 2007 2:30 PM

Emily -- First ever OB double award for sanity for your story about the lousy way other parents treated you when you volunteered. It is AMAZING that anyone becomes a teacher these days, with the way parents act. Not me, of course!!! But all those nutboxes out there.

Posted by: leslie4 | October 12, 2007 2:36 PM

justlurking -- how about some Jews for Jesus propaganda? Maybe an Ann Coulter picture? (I just couldn't resist...)

Posted by: gottabeanon | October 12, 2007 2:37 PM

gottabeanon, the Jews for Jesus leaflets have to go home in the Christmas goodie bags!

For the goodie baskets, might I suggest those bottle-shaped chocolates filled with booze, if you really want to p*** off your fellow PTA parents.

Posted by: educmom_615 | October 12, 2007 2:43 PM

DH is the "Blackhawk" parent - when it's called for, mostly. Dealing with a school district under state administration is not fun, so I'm really grateful that I don't have to most of the time.

I don't think I could work up the necessary level of anger to effectively scold a room-full of school staff and inform then that they should be ashamed. At that level of fury, I'd be completely inarticulate and attempting to remove heads and limbs with my bare hands. Sometimes being a good parent is not putting yourself in a sitution that would result in jail time.

I suppose I have some "Safety" issues, although my usual mode is to tell the kids something is dangerous or could cause them to get hurt, and then let them learn from the natural consequences of their actions when they ignore the warning.

Of course, I don't do that when the natural consequences might be permanent and/or lethal.

Posted by: sue | October 12, 2007 2:46 PM

I love all these Halloween "goodies" ideas. But fortunately we don't have any reason (or excuse) to use them in our neighborhood.

It does remind me that younger son took 30-40 cherry tomatoes to school yesterday to share with his class. I hope some of them thought it was a treat!

We were planting our winter veggie garden together Wed. evening, picking the tomatoes and popping them in our mouths when he asked if it was okay. I said yes, after explaining about food allergies so he wouldn't be offended or pressure any kids who weren't interested in "mom's organic cherry tomatoes - almost as sweet as candy". There's another "Safety parent" moment.

I wish I could figure out how we corrupted that kid - he was so excited that we were planting Brussels sprouts, because that's his favorite food.

Posted by: sue | October 12, 2007 3:00 PM

Sue, How about Swiss chard?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 12, 2007 3:09 PM

Songster, how about a factoid? Devo covered "Secret Agent Man", but Johnny Rivers sang the original that can still be heard on oldies stations. It's famously discussed in the book of misquoted songs as "Secret Asian Man." Johnny Rivers also sang "Poor Side of Town," another one of my favorites.

Is it considered child abuse that my parents didn't play me kid-friendly music when I was little and instead blasted oldies? They are all I listen to now. I'm clearly traumatized.

Posted by: Meesh | October 12, 2007 3:14 PM

I had a Mom who was a helicopter parent before the term was invented. And because I was an only child all of it was focused on me. I learned at an early age not to tell my mother about things because her calling a parent would only make things worse.

I try not to be a helicopter parent because I want my daughter to gain more independence than I had and not be afraid to try new things.

Posted by: mosere | October 12, 2007 3:14 PM

Sometimes being a good parent is not putting yourself in a sitution that would result in jail time.
Posted by: sue | October 12, 2007 02:46 PM

Ha! Love it -- a new one to add the minimum standards list.

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 12, 2007 3:14 PM

I too dislike the "parties" even though I can never say no.

There's this guilt associated with them, like I should be doing more to help out the SAHM bring in some much-needed cash to support her family. Maybe I'm reading too much into it...

Posted by: Meesh | October 12, 2007 3:16 PM

I'll confess to Traffic and Rescue. Two kids with autism spectrum disorders will do that to you--I kind of hang back in social situations and watch for signs of trouble, then swoop in and help them negotiate so they don't end up frustrated and upset with the other person confused and angry. If they had the tools to manage themselves, I'd sit on the sidelines and read (and often do if the situation involves my child and another adult--usually the adult can pick up on what's going on and manage the situation without my input, and it's good practice for my kids to not have mom help out.).

I remember being pregnant with my first child and watching a woman a few rows ahead of me at church one day. Her son was about seven or eight months old and had a pacifier. Anytime he'd spit it out, she'd catch it in midair with a special little Tupperware container so that not only did the pacifier never touch the floor or seat, but never touched her hands either! That took some talent and quick reflexes--I saw some pretty impressive catches in the one hour that I watched. That image sticks in my mind when I think about overly-involved parents--if she was catching his pacifier in midair, how did she manage things like letting him go on field trips or go over to friends' houses to play?

Posted by: sarahfran | October 12, 2007 3:23 PM

Meesh - feel NO guilt. I have a relative who is very successful Pampered Chef sales consultant. The majority of her customers are NOT friends but rather people she met networking to build her business.

Posted by: tntkate | October 12, 2007 3:24 PM

sue: are you trying to unseat Moxiemom as lowering the standards for the rest of us?

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 12, 2007 3:27 PM

oh, and here's the biggest scam:

My son this week is the 'star student.' Which means we had to make a poster for him to present (with pix of family members), and we had to provide snacks for the students all week. Thankfully, this was a short week (they had off on Monday), but still.
So the kids feel bad if the parents provide brussel sprouts, unless they are sue's kids). So the parents, I guess, try to give the kids healthy stuff, but the kids are something wondering what their friends will think, etc.
They're in kindergarten. And I know it never gets better.
But I did go in today as the mystery reader. And my DS was SO excited.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 12, 2007 3:41 PM

sue: are you trying to unseat Moxiemom as lowering the standards for the rest of us?

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 12, 2007 03:27 PM

HEY, I resent the implication that anyone could have lower standards than I do!

Meesh, don't feel bad. If they really needed money, they would get a real job. Most of the ladies I know, do it for "pin money". It is not my responsibility to ensure that you can have a cleaning lady AND get to the spa.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 12, 2007 3:43 PM

Altmom - let's try to hold on this time when they are actually excited to have us around their friends. In a few short years, we'll be walking behind them in the mall! : )

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 12, 2007 3:44 PM

I must be truly heartless, or tired, maybe both.

I turn down those "invitations" to parties that involve me bringing a checkbook with nary a second thought or guilt. I also turn away telephone solicitors (the ones who have wormed or weaseled their way past the "Do Not Call" list) with aplomb. I just sing out that I'm not interested and hang up. If they are persistent/stupid enough to call back, I let my youngest know there's a phone call. The kid will launch into a soliloquoy that cannot be stopped--they hang up and slither away.

Only the legit ones get by now, but I still do not want their phone calls. Let me be, damnit!

atlmom123--thanks for the info.

Halloween goodie bag, tweaked. Well, if you're willing to give them condoms, how about edible underwear? Colored condoms? Flavored? No doubt the adults will come calling with their pitchforks and torches.

I guess that's one way to "get to know" the neighbours!

*snickers*

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 12, 2007 3:54 PM

Speaking of Halloween, we generally go to a good amount of houses. To the kids it seems like hardly any, to me it seems like the entire zip code. We have one house we don't go to. It is four houses down. When my first born was 2, my neighbor and his two year old and I went there and knocked on the door. The 50 year old man opened the door and pot fumes rolled out of the house. Now, if you want to get high, why would you pick the day that small children are going to be ringing the doorbell constantly? We threw away his candy and never went back. If he was that stupid, god only knows what he did to the candy. What an idiot.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 12, 2007 3:55 PM

I walk my kindergartener to school every day, she is happy to kiss and hug her 2 1/2 year old sister and me goodbye. I am seeing some first grade boys who won't hug their parents and don't want them walking reasonably near the entrance door.

Makes me wonder how much time I have left with my hugs... maybe with a daughter, I will get an extra year or so...

And she was very excited when I volunteered last Thursday.

Posted by: robinwfcva | October 12, 2007 3:56 PM

"When my first born was 2, my neighbor and his two year old and I went there and knocked on the door. The 50 year old man opened the door and pot fumes rolled out of the house."

Address please? Weed AND a date!!!!!!
A two-fer!

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 12, 2007 4:00 PM

Address please? Weed AND a date!!!!!!
A two-fer!


You're incorrigible!

Posted by: pATRICK | October 12, 2007 4:02 PM

Makes me wonder how much time I have left with my hugs...

Varies widely. Mine will hug me, even the one who is in the double-digit years! But yeah, I KNOW time is running out fast with that child.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 12, 2007 4:08 PM

pATRICK, sounds like your neighbor is one of those guys where the teenagers knock on his door on halloween and say, "trip or treat".

Ot in response to your 10:43: no apology necessary, you did nothing wrong. I've got my own cross to bear and sometimes it gets me down.

Posted by: DandyLion | October 12, 2007 4:09 PM

I wouldn't dream of challenging the reigning monarch of lowered standards.

Swiss Chard - I love it! Haven't tried feeding it to the kids yet, but why not.

And for the record, older son's favorite food is cheeseburger-and-fries. He will eat pretty much anything he's served, as long as one of his parents is paying attention.

Only younger son would be happy to make a full meal of veggies, but he'll also eat all forms of protein - loves tofu - and nearly all carbs, except he voluntarily limits the simple ones that he knows are bad for his diabetic dad.

I swear that we haven't used "enhanced interogation techniques" (with apologies for the political double-speak) to influence his food preferences.

Posted by: sue | October 12, 2007 4:12 PM

I'm not familiar with the definition of "toxic parent" as Leslie uses it. I've only heard the term used to describe physical abuse, emotional abuse such as belittling or manipulation, alcohol or drug abuse, or compulsive gambling.

Posted by: Carstonio | October 12, 2007 4:59 PM

"Ot in response to your 10:43: no apology necessary, you did nothing wrong. I've got my own cross to bear and sometimes it gets me down."

DandyLion,
A long time ago, you posted about how you taught one of your kids to ride a bike. Remember? It was a beautiful post. So yes, you have a cross to bear. And it sucks. But never forget all the things you have given your kids, in spite of that cross. I know a bunch of fathers who are completely able bodied, and who have never bothered or care enough to spend time with their kids. I'm sure your kids think you do just fine. And your four year old holding your hand to protect you as you cross the street is the most adorable and heartwarming. You should be proud of that.

Posted by: Emily | October 12, 2007 5:28 PM

Meesh,

I know that Johnny Rivers did Secret Agent Man first. I was just seeing who was paying attention (and maybe actually appreciating my song parodies!)

I have had the pleasure of attending a Johnny Rivers concert! Slow Dancing (swaying to the music) is another golden oldie!

Posted by: Songster | October 12, 2007 6:05 PM

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