Did you know what kind of parent you wanted to be before you had kids? I didn't. And now that I'm a parent, I don't feel like I prescribe to only one parenting type. What I do know is that occasionally my preferred parenting style bumps heads with what my daughter requests from me. It almost feels like she wants me to be a helicopter parent, whereas my son wants to be more free-range. He loves to say, "Bye! Be back soon!" and attempts to leave the house without any supervision. My daughter, on the other hand, will yell, "I NEED AN ADULT!"
Since she was a baby, I've tried my best to balance meeting her needs and my own. By the time she was a toddler I made a conscious decision to be present, but not be over-involved. Sometimes it's hard for me to step back (they are my babies after all!), but I try for their sake and for my sanity. After reading the correlation between helicopter parenting and college-age depression, I'm determined not to give into my daughter's demands for me to hover over her. Here are several examples of when she attempted to make me a helicopter mom:
Potty time. Obviously I assisted her while she was potty training, but now that she has wiping figured out, I figure she's pretty much on her own. There are days she requests that I stand there while she uses the bathroom at home or she'll yell for me to wipe her butt and instead of always marching in and doing everything for her, I'll talk her through how to wipe from outside the bathroom door.
Drawing. I try not to ever tell my kids they are doing an art project wrong because I want them to create freely. Unfortunately, my daughter shows some perfectionist tendencies and gets frustrated when she thinks she's not drawing good enough. More than once she asked me to draw things for her. A circle, a heart, a face, etc. I resist doing it for her and instead encourage her to practice. I enjoy drawing with her and showing her how to draw and write, but I won't do it for her.
I'm not going to wait on her hand and foot no matter how much she whines about it.
Playground. This is one of the toughest for me. While my kids are unsteady toddlers, I'll follow them around on the playground, ready with a hand in case they fall. As they become more confident in their abilities and aware of their limits, I back off. Sometimes my daughter will ask me to help her on the playground equipment and if it's something I know she is capable of, I encourage her to do it on her own. If it's something she truly cannot do without assistance, then I usually suggest she do something else instead. The thought of them falling and injuring themselves makes me nervous, but I want them to climb and play without me being next to them the whole time.
Dance class. Most of the time my daughter is excited about dance class. When she asks me to go in class with her, not wanting to leave my side. I'll gladly walk her inside the studio door, help her with her tights and shoes, but I won't attend class with her.
Food. When she wants a snack, and demands I get it for her, I understand she's caught up in playing and doesn't want to stop what she's doing; however, usually I'm in the middle of work when she asks and she doesn't want to wait. I know she is capable of getting simple snacks for herself, such as rinsing off strawberries and putting them in a bowl. I'm not going to wait on her hand and foot no matter how much she whines about it.
Chores. Some days my kids are superb helpers, other days not so much. There are times they basically ask me to do everything for them or seem to need constant supervision. I do my best to break tasks down or have them help with things they like to do, but they have to pitch in. I'm not going to do everything for them, even when the clothes or silverware isn't put away right.
Friends. Social interactions are the trickiest. I don't want to hover, yet I want to be near enough to address any issues that come up. If someone isn't sharing or won't play the game my daughter wants to play, she'll come to me. I used to be quick to intervene. Now, I encourage her to go and talk it out with the person herself. I may help guide her in what to say or how to share her feelings, but I want her to actually do it. I don't want to navigate all of her socialization for her.
While these examples may seem somewhat amusing and par for the course when dealing with a four-year- old, I think they tie into teaching and practicing life skills. And that means I'll continue doing what I'm doing even though I'll still worry about messing them up somehow. Because, really, don't we all?