Helicopter or Ambulance?

By: Lara Winburn

With spring, we get pretty days, yellow pollen and a lot more time to play outside. We head to every park in town after work and on the weekends before the heat of summer is upon us and those slides burn baby bums. But with that park time, to me, there comes a conundrum.

When my daughter was 2, she was Captain Cautious. I would hold her hand as she carefully and slowly climbed equipment and I caught her at the end of every slide. I hovered because she wanted me to. I kept her safe.

Cut to my little Wildman, my 2-year-old, who climbs everything with no fear, no trepidation. He giggles and he goes. So are you a helicopter that hovers around every monkey bar trying Helicopter parentto save teeth and limbs OR do you just let them learn on their own and risk a trip in an ambulance?

I may have mentioned before that I broke my arm four times before I was 18. I was a bit of a daredevil so the helicopter hovering would have been to no avail. I needed to try… and fall… and break… in order to learn that some tricks WERE a bad idea. But what is the right balance? I want my kids, whether it is in the park or on the ball field or in the classroom, to be independent and brave but I do not want to watch them fall if hovering could have softened the fall. I do not want them to be afraid to try new things or climb to new heights and explore what their little bodies are capable of. I do not want them to be whiny and dependent because I was that mom that held a safety net under the swing set. It is a balance indeed.

And it seems to me, this is just the beginning of this whole helicopter/ambulance parenting dilemma. I may not survive elementary age, pre-teen, or, heaven help me, the teenage years – when you have to choose to be a helicopter about friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, and academics. Or when you have to just wait and become a paramedic when the heartbreak happens.

What do you think? Helicopter or ambulance? Seems you run a risk either way.

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