Wednesday, 26 July 2017

'Helicopter Parenting': Not My Style


Louis, my fourteen year old son,  goes off to  Essex today...on his own.   Gulp!  I'm popping him on the train and after two changes which includes crossing London on the Tube, he'll arrive at the home of his grandparents.  It's a somewhat scary prospect, but only for me.  He's as happy as Larry that he's allowed to do something so grown up.

No-one can describe me as a helicopter parent, overprotective with a tendency to swoop down and protect my child at the first sign of trouble.  In fact, I'm  quite the reverse.  Because Louis has achieved markers of independence early on for a child living in the UK in the 21st century I think I've been seen s a bit reckless.   At five he started to play out in the village where he still lives half the time with his father.  It's the norm there but I have to admit to feelings of terror the first time I agreed this.  At eight he walked to school on his own down a  country lane.  I was too ill to take him.  But given that hundreds of families took the same route day in day out I reckoned that he'd be safe and could call on help when he needed.  He sacked himself from after school club and was a latch key kid for an hour a day at the age of ten.  I'd find him happily curled up on the sofa eating crisps.  Yet another person I know did a trial of leaving her child of the same age at home while she popped to Tesco Extra for a pint of milk.  She came home to find them brandishing four big kitchen knives out of fear that there would be an intruder.  Clearly they weren't ready to be left.

What people don't always appreciate is that my actions are not borne out of recklessness.  Each time I allow Louis further and further off the leash I risk assess the situation.  Each time  I have a feeling of trepidation.  Lots could go wrong but in reality the chance of a major disaster is low.   I'm not reckless.  Everyone knows the plan.  And the benefits of preparing my son, bit by bit, for independence as he approaches adulthood are pretty enormous.

16 comments:

  1. What a fine man your son Louis is going to become, you are letting go of your son steadily to face the big and exciting world out there. My daughter was the same and just recently her son has come back from New Zealand traveling and working on his own round the country, my grand daughter spent 3 months in Borneo last year and has just return from Jamaica and started a new job 2 days later.
    I agree major disasters happen very rarely and I always think bad and dangerous things can happen on your own doorstep. Hope Louis has a great time with his grand parents and you enjoy being on your own for a little while and look forward to hearing what your son has done. Love
    Hazel c uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kind words of encouragement Hazel. Thanks. xx

      PS He made it safely!

      Delete
  2. No, helicopter parent I am not! I agree with you entirely Julie that if ypu hve assessed the situation he will be able to manage to make the journey with confidence. Children are not taught about risk assessment and therefore have no idea of what's safe or not-the children with the knives exemplies this very well. I'm sure he'll enjoy the adventure and also staying with his grandparents. Happy days for a fine young man. Catriona

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was very cool about the journey..and I was calm-ish. I only phoned twice! xx

      Delete
  3. Your experience mirrors mine with my son. He walked to school alone from age 10. Later, at 12 - he was a latch key kid, getting home from school an hour or so before his Dad and I. It does instill some independence in them.

    In contrast, my daughter is away on an archaeological dig abroad at the moment. One of her colleagues (age 19) is really struggling to look after himself. He has never had to fend for himself and can't cope with having to cook a meal or do his own washing! Almost as if his mum plans to hand him over to a wife/ girlfriend to look after. It's taken two weeks but he can now almost open a tin unsupervised. I'd be ashamed if that was my son!

    Gerry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah cooking. That's another first that filled me with trepidation. Louis phoned to say he was baking a cake when I was at work one day. Needless to say the house hadn't been burnt down when I arrived home. xx

      Delete
  4. And added but to my above post. Both my children and grandchildren plus myself were either in the guides and scouts and I think this also helped them to live an Independent life.

    Hazel c uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lou is an Explorer Scout. He loves it although not in a badge collecting way. xx

      Delete
  5. Absolutely from the same page of parenting. I am raising an adult not a kidult. If they don't take measured risks and learn from their mistakes how do they cope. I'm there to help him pick up the pieces, but I have to let him drop the pieces first! On Monday my son returns from his 3 months volunteering in Bangladesh. He'd "assumed" there would be a washing machine there....there wasn't but he's been doing his own hand washing and ironing for several years now. I should add we do have a wm....I just refuse to handwash any garments which are not suitable for the machine so if he buys them he has to deal with them!He's coped fine.
    Arilx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some pieces were dropped. He forgot to phone Nana at Liverpool Street so had to wait around the station at Southend to be picked up. No harm done. He might think twice about timings in the future. xx

      Delete
  6. You are right, Louis will cope because he knows how. I live in Norfolk and know several women who won't go on the tube, they find it 'scary' and fear getting on 'the wrong tube'. Women in their 60's if you don't mind!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That line 'fear the fear and do it anyway' is one of my mantras. xx

      Delete
  7. I am with you all the way on this! I was about to type the very same first line Hazel used in her post! JanF

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bless - yes he is rather fine already. I'm very pleased with him. xx

      Delete
  8. My precious nieces live in London, my sis and her husband both police think the whole world is evil. Come to me in Edinburgh they have freedom. I live on a park they have ancient bikes, scateboards, freedom to be children. Go to my mums in highland Scotland they roam free!. Lovely to see then they go back to London with total helicopter parents!.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good one! I think being a cop can give a warped perspective on the world. All that suffering and badness that come across on a day to day basis must take a toll. xx

      Delete