Dear Helicopter Parents, Snap out of it

Life is too short for me to be a helicopter parent. I’m involved. I’m on the PTA. I badger Abby over her homework, her flute practice and cleaning her room.  I communicate with Boo’s team (which is another type of parenting, not helicopter).  At a PTA event before school started the new Principal asked me if I was happy with Abby’s placement for the next year. I replied, I have no idea. In all honesty I didn’t even know that Abby would have two teachers this year. 

I do not place my child in the preferred teacher’s classroom. I do not say she has to have XYZ in her class. When Abby is 15 she will not be able to pick her boss. I think learning in primary school that you have to work for whatever teacher you get is a good lesson. Let her learn now at a young age how to debate, negotiate and comply with the person entrusted to educate her. 

Our town is going through an enormous transition in the school system. There have been a lot of changes, from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. It has in both good ways and bad brought out the helicopter parent in a lot of the community.

In addition to the transition our school system has instituted new security measures and traffic patterns. It’s the traffic management that set my life is too short, snap out of it moment. Here’s the deal:

Previously if you drove your child to school (even though they could walk or take the bus) you would let little Patsy get out of the car and text, email, play words with friends watch her like an Eagle Scout as she walked the 25 feet from your car door to the front door of the school. 

You do this because there is an off-chance little Patsy could be abducted by aliens on her way into school.

The new system (which is working at two other schools in town) is that you now drop your child off and drive to work, the gym, wherever you go when your child is at school. A teacher (or two) directs the children and keeps and makes sure no one dawdles on the way to class. You do not stop and hold up the 25 cars behind you who are trying to get somewhere on time. You can, if you wish, park your car and get out of it and walk your child to the sidewalk where you can watch or walk with them walk into the school.

Of course Facebook lit up brighter than NYC on New Year’s Eve with parent comments. One person wrote that they asked the administration if the school was now taking responsibility for all the kids from the moment they are on school grounds without a parent present, she danced around the question like Sugar Ray Leonard, never actually answering the question”.

Hmm…really? This is a question posed to the school administration? I think they “danced” around the question because they were not allowed to say: Look you fool, we take personal responsibility for every child in our system. It doesn’t matter if they are walking into the school or out of it. It doesn’t matter if they are in gym, the playground, the art room or in the classroom.

Unless you home school (and you are my hero if you do) a parent is not present with their child 24/7.  If you are seriously worried that little Patsy is going to come to harm walking from your car to the door of the school there are bigger issues. Just think what could happen while you are not there:

They could get colored on in art! Or worse eat the art.They could fall from the slide on the playground.They could need a band aid.They might color outside the lines in kindergarten.They might make friends, get dirty, learn to negotiate and be a little independent.


Oh the horror, they might make friendships without you. I think that is a more likely fear than the alien abduction, personally.

If you want to become involved in the traffic policy, the transitioning of the schools, school security I say fantastic! At the first PTA meeting of the year we had 18 attendees out of a school of 500+ children. Of those who attended: 3 from administration, 1 teacher, the E-board of the PTA, the past PTA President and VP and 6 other parents. After Sandy Hook we held a school safety meeting 12 parents attended. It takes more to keep your child safe then watching them walk from your car to the front door. 

I know the excuses: I work, I do this or that I don’t have time let me wave the flag of BS. I work full-time, I blog, I’m active on the PTA, I take care of two active girls, I attend Boo’s doctor and therapy appointments, I take Abby to her Flute and Riding lessons and I remember to be a wife sometimes.  There is time to get involved it just takes creative planning.

My point, to fellow parents, is relax! Life is too short for you to worry so much. If you are a child of the 70’s or 80’s you played outside (alone), you walked to school (alone), your parent did not handpick your teacher (or friends) and you survived. Yes, I understand we live in a different world. A world of 9/11 and Sandy Hook and Columbine. I agree we have to be vigilant, we have to be involved and aware.

You also have to know when to let your child fly. 


And if your child is abducted by aliens walking from your car to the front of the school while a teacher watches, I will be the first one to sign up for helicopter lessons.

This was how I answered the prompt Life is too short for….





Finish the Sentence Friday

21 thoughts on “Dear Helicopter Parents, Snap out of it

  1. Janine Huldie

    I, too, joined PTA and have gone to both the general PTA meeting and the kindergarten one now, too. I also volunteered to be class mom for Emma's class . I went to both these meetings because, I wanted to go and be informed as to what is going on in her school and education, but was so shocked at the low turnout at both. You are right about the excuses, but still I can't help it and could come up with excuses, too, but I don't want to and my girls are what is most important to me.

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  2. Kristi Campbell

    I'm getting better. I really really am. Tucker takes the bus to school, and even though I'm allowed to go spy on him in class (I mean volunteer), I haven't gone (yet). I did sign up to be the room mom though, because involved is good. But he won't be walking to the bus stop alone just yet. Thanks for linking up, love!

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  3. Michelle L. Grewe

    My kid's school does the traffic similar, for most kids. They have a place you line up, drive up, let your kid out of your car, a teacher and principal is present to make sure they get in the building, and you drive off. Next to that line is the parking lot, and I usually park because my oldest kid is on the autism spectrum and therefore, takes forever to just get out of the car. So I park to keep traffic moving because I know we are the slow people. Sometimes I move faster than the line. But this school is different for PreK. That is a different entrance all together, the one where the parking that's so convenient for parents will get blocked in by buses waiting, and there's no way to time it because buses line up randomly. They have a time to be there, and many of them show up early and wait, so you never know when they are going to show up. They also want you to walk around the outside of the school if you park in the main lot to drop off and pick up your kid, but they walk the kids inside the school when they move around, so many days, I've spend 20 minutes finding my kid to pick her up. When I attempt to go in the building, they suggest I might be a school shooter; however, if I show them my ID, that will prove I'm not a terrorist today because the driver's license will tell them if I'm in a dangerous mindset that I haven't been in the last 3 years dropping off and picking up kids. Then to make things more interesting, they don't want me to let my PreK kid walk herself to class, even if the teachers and principal is standing there. They want me to walk her to her room in the mornings. I haven't been doing it. My kid knows where her class is and is cognitively capable of walking her happy butt to it. I wouldn't have done that for the kid on the autism spectrum because she, at that age, had a tendency to veer from her destination, like instead of walking to class, she'd go outside and climb a tree and chase some butterflies. She was also fascinated by leaves and rocks at that age. Anyway, I do think we somehow make this whole task of dropping off and picking up kids from school unnecessarily stressful. In my case, it's other people making it stressful for me, as if I have room on my plate of stress with 3 kids back to back. Some parents may have that kind of time to add drama. I personally don't.

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  4. Kerri Ames

    Exactly, Janine! I personally don't care if people show up or volunteer. When I care is when they complain about something being done or not being done to their specifications. 🙂

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  5. Kerri Ames

    Holy crap I don't know how you do three kids at drop off. This is why Abby rides the bus and only Boo is dropped off. You are cracking me up about the terrorist comment. I said the same thing when they instituted it at the school, I show you my license which you do not copy or write down, and that makes it okay to take my kid. Some added drama for sure 🙂 thanks for stopping by and understanding my rant!

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  6. OhBoyMom

    It is almost comical how parents helicopter their kids. I like to refer to my parents' generation of raising us as “benign neglect.” And we all turned out just fine – maybe even MORE self-sufficient than our kids seem to be at the same age. I didn't participate in the blog hop this week, but I should have – this was a good prompt to do!

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  7. Kelly Mckenzie

    My two are now verging on 19 (in less than a week) and 20. I cannot stress enough how this post could have been written by me back in the day. Really. I remember being stunned as I sat in the preschool class and listened to parents argue with the teacher that their children were absolutely NOT going to go outside on a rainy day. They could get wet. Well I'm sorry but we live on the Wet Coast. It rains here more often than not. How delightful that their children will be inside every single day. Also at the PAC meetings when my two got older I foolishly signed up for co-chair. Oh my. It was so difficult keeping the 8 parents in attendence under control. Then later I signed up to help run the annual carnival. We had a whopping 4 parents show up for those meetings. And yes it was so delightful to hear people bitch about how they would NOT run the candy floss machine thank you very much, or count money, or work the cake walk … I smile now as I think about the drop off situation too. It was beyond comical. Pressing the fast forward button to two years ago as I watched my daughter's dorm mate's mom saniwipe every single surface in the room. My son is staring at me, shaking his head and waving his hand over his head silently saying “don't be a helicopter parent Mom.” Message received.

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  8. Kerri Ames

    I love that your son had a signal for you. It is so funny. I get it if your child has a special circumstance. But the majority don't. Unless their circumstance is their hovering parent.

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  9. Anna Fitfunner

    I'm trying to decide whether I'm a helicopter parent or not. I also have a special needs kid (my oldest son), and I've become accustomed to be hyper-involved in his education because…well, because that's what needs to happen. With the younger guy, I'm finding it a bit more difficult to find that right balance between engagement and letting him grow on his own. BTW, I have the opposite volunteer problem: we volunteer for a bunch of our kids' activities. It's hard to say no when you see the need to help groups that are giving so much to your kids…

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  10. Stephanie Sprenger

    Yes, I agree with you. It's easy to cross the line into helicopter-dom, but it's bad for both the kids and the parents. It's no way to live your lives. We have the “Hug and Go” lane at school, which works just great for me. 🙂 It pretty much means, “Get the hell out of here with your minivan, Mom…”

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  11. Christine

    I am so glad I don't have to take my kids to school (husband does) anymore. I did it one year, and a handful of parents irritated the heck out of me. Honestly, parents who can't trust their kids to walk along the sidewalk and into the nearest school door have some serious problems. Being a parochial school with no official special needs department, we don't have many kids with special needs. There is no reason every single child in our school can't get to his class all alone. I want to scream at them, “For the love of all, give your kids some credit!” There were parents that would even hold up traffic and mess up the system so their 5th graders didn't have to walk around the building but could go straight in the door while mom watched. We have 550 kids being dropped off by their parents. Just a few parents not following the directions makes for serious messes. Oh, they just aggravate me to no end.

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  12. Angel The Alien

    I had to laugh when you pointed out that you will not be choosing a boss for your daughter when she's older. I read an article that said young adults (like, college graduates!!!) are bringing their parents in on job interviews these days. The parents then ask the boss lots of questions and negotiate for higher pay and other weird things like that. GAG!
    Also, while I was looking for a job, I saw a school website for a small town in Oregon. The first line of the website said something like “WE HAVE SPOTTED BEARS AND COUGARS ON THE SCHOOL PROPERTY RECENTLY! WE ARE GOING TO TRY TO SUPERVISE THE CHILDREN MORE CLOSELY!” So yeah, between the car and the school, there is the chance that little Patsy could be eaten by a bear!

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  13. Dana @ Kiss my List

    Our middle school has an outdoor ed program, where the sixth graders go to a camp (with chaperones and teachers) for three days. At the parent meeting, many people were freaking out and asking questions like “Will they have a buddy system for going to the restroom” and “Is there a fence around the entire (100+acre) camp?” I honestly felt bad for these parents – what must it be like to live in such constant fear for your children? Kids don't come with bubble wrap – they're tougher than they look.

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  14. Sylvia Phillips

    When I was little in the sixties!! The whole neighborhood walked to school (without parents) on the specially made path through the woods! The big kids took it upon themselves to watch out for the little kids. Times sure have changed. Yet years later as an adult my sister revealed that she had been lured into the woods by a teen age boy and molested! I do agree though, we can't spend our lives always fearing the worst will happen!

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  15. Allison Smith

    I absolutely agree with you! I have four kids and I couldn't possible helicopter parent them all. There is one that I perhaps occasionally hover over – but it's exclusively for homework:). I think this is why children live at home until they 27! I want my to GO!

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  16. Pingback: It’s not my fault | (Un)Diagnosed and still okay

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