Ten Commandments for Helicopter ParentsHelicopter parents are those parents who hover over their kids, guarding their precious snowflakes against all the bumped knees, skinned noses, and hurty feelings they may encounter throughout their life. Some helicopter parents have not only been known to call their children's colleges when there are problems, they will call their children's employers to help negotiate job offers and pay raises. I'm especially starting to see helicoptering in the 20-somethings as they become new parents.
As an experienced father of three children, I have some advice I want to offer these new parents. These are commandments I think every new parent should hear, and in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit to having violated a couple of these myself.
1. Thou shalt not let your kids run around in restaurants. This is not a chance for your kids to explore their world. That's what your house and back yard are for. Other people are trying to enjoy each other's company, not your children's. Keep them in their seats at your table.
2. Thou shalt not let your kids shout to get your attention because you're too busy chatting with other parents about how devoted to your kids you are. There's nothing more annoying than "MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY!" over and over again.
3. Thou shalt not let your kids express their anger through thundering, guttural cries that can be heard two states away. Especially if you're the kinds of parents who believes in letting your kids "cry it out." Please just attend to their needs, or better yet, remove them from earshot of the general public. I hear Iceland is nice this time of year. While I don't believe in "children should be seen and not heard," I do believe that if your kid hollers for minutes on end because they're not happy about something, I'm going to holler at you next.
4. Thou shalt not use a double stroller when you only have one child. A double stroller is not a combo cargo/child carrier. If the crap you're carrying outweighs your child, you're carrying way too much stuff. If you have diapers, backup diapers, spare clothes, backup spare clothes, secret stash of double backup diapers, and enough baby food to feed a baby army, you'd better be packing for a week out in the wilderness, not a two hour jaunt to Mommy and Me.
5. Thou shalt not leave your stroller out in the aisle of restaurants, stores, or on sidewalks. Leave it at the front of the restaurant, coffee shop, or wherever you're dragging that off-road vehicle you call a baby stroller. No one is going to steal it because frankly there's not a big market for 4x4 Hummer strollers. If you're worried about it being stolen, jack it up, and take one of the wheels off.
6. Thou shalt not put older children in strollers. If your child is old enough to be in school, they're old enough to walk. I've seen 8-year-olds riding in strollers, with no signs of younger children anywhere. Rather than being one of those parents who wonders why their kids are fat, make sure your kid learns to hike it out when she's four.
7. Thou shalt not change your children's diapers in public. Use a bathroom or your car. Come on, it's a poopy diaper. No one else thinks your kid's crap smells like roses, so don't change your kid on your lap.
8. Thou shalt not live your failed sports dreams through your kids. Introduce them to sports, and let them play in the fun leagues when they're young. But if you sign them up for ultra-competitive kids' teams, and scream at them from the sidelines, you'll make them hate your favorite game before they're 10. If you keep pushing them in it, they'll hate you by the time they're 15.
9. Thou shalt not make your child wear a helmet to ride a tricycle or scooter. I've seen 3-year-olds riding trikes and 5-year-olds riding Razor scooters, clad in helmets and elbow pads. Trust me, you're hovering over him so much, he's not going to fall, let alone go fast enough to suffer major head trauma if he ever did.
10. Thou shalt not bury your children under organic, soy bean dusted, gluten-free, cruelty-free, all natural, sugar-free foods. Thou shall loosen up once in a while and let them enjoy Twinkies, or cake, or soda. Strike a balance, and let your kid be a real kid at least once a month. At the same time, thou shalt not bury your children under nothing but junk food and sugar, and then wonder why they have ADHD. They're called vegetables, and it won't kill little Junior to eat them once in a while. A steady diet of hot dogs and mac and cheese will only give him scurvy, and teach him to be a picky eater who fusses when he can't get his way (see Commandment #3). Be the one in charge and make him eat stuff that's good for him.
My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.
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