Opinion: Am I a helicopter parent?


As a high school teacher, I deal with all types of parents. Honestly, most are terrific. They respect what I am trying to do for their son or daughter and trust me as a professional to make the right decisions in the classroom. If and when an issue arises, they encourage their teenager to take the lead in resolving matters and only get involved when absolutely necessary.

I like to think that Doo and I fall into this category, but sometimes I’m not so sure. What if we are actually [in a whisper]helicopter parents?

Never heard of a helicopter parent? Well, trust me, you’ve probably met one. These are the men and women who hover incessantly over their children. They never allow little Suzy to fail at anything, nor fight her own fight. They refuse to let their precious angel out of their sight for fear something might happen that they cannot control. And God forbid their Tommy gets an F.

Admittedly, my first instinct when one of my own kids scores poorly on a test or does not make a school sports team, is to blame the teacher or coach. (I occasionally dwell in La La Land with Tom Brady and my four perfectly-perfect offspring. We live off old money in Tuscany and vacation in Davos.) I revert to Mama Bear mode and want to defend my child at all costs.

Luckily, the teacher in me and my real spouse quickly step up. They remind me that 99 times out of 100, my child didn’t complete his homework, forgot to study or took a nap during class. His teacher had absolutely no role in the failure. I am forced to accept that my child has made a poor decision, and therefore must handle the repercussions.

But watching them fail and take responsibility for their actions is really hard for me. After all, what parent enjoys seeing their children struggle? But Doo and I are determined to avoid a “Failure to Launch” movie scenario. We feel strongly that they should be the ones communicating with their teachers, advocating for help, and charting their own course to success. We’re here to redirect when they wander off, but we’re not going to stop that initial step off the path.

So maybe I’m not actually a helicopter parent. I certainly have that instinct to perform frequent fly-overs and keep a constant watch on them, but honestly I’m too selfish to spend my days micromanaging the ups and downs of our kids’ lives. I’d rather be daydreaming about Tom and the Swiss chalet. Peace out.


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