Dear Helicopter Moms, You’re Ruining It for Everyone Else

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mom-and-sonImage via Shutterstock

She’s standing there under my 3-year-old, arms aloft like she’s at church waiting for God to drop a truth bomb on her. Baby Bear monkey-shimmies six foot metal ladder.

“Do you know whose he is?” she asks me, almost breathless with terror.

“He’s mine,” I say. “And he’s been climbing that ladder since he was two.”

She goggles at me. And then I know I’m doomed: she’s a hoverer. And unless I hover over my kids, she’ll do it for me, not-so-silently judging me all the time. Thanks for ruining my mama playdate, lady.

Because there are two kinds of parents at the park.

I take my kids to the park a lot. I do it for a few reasons — so they can play with other kids, so they can negotiate a world on their own. They learn to test their bodies: can I climb this ladder? If not, too bad — maybe next time. They learn to run and scream and make friends and do all those things kids do at parks while I sit and talk to mama friends. Because that’s what I do at parks. I talk to my mama friends and make sure, from a safe distance, that no one’s killing anyone else.

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I take my kids to the park for a lot of reasons, but I don’t take them there to play with them. This, apparently, makes me nigh worthy of social services intervention. At least, to the other type of parent at the park. Those are the hoverers.

No bench-warmers, these park hoverers. They come to the park for one reason: to play with their kids. And not at a distance, either. They come to the park to coax Junior up the stairs and down the slide, to bounce him gently on the seesaw, and to swing him endlessly on the swing. No climbing up the slide for him. No testing tall ladders, or tettering near edges, or generally doing whatever it is kids do at the park. I wouldn’t know. I’m not six.

The rounded plastic edges of every playground in America aren’t enough for these moms. Neither is the rubberized or mulched ground. They need to be right there, preferably with arms open to catch a stumbling tot. They adhere to age recommendations. And they ruin it for the rest of us.

It always happens like this: I’ll be sitting on a picnic table with a bunch of like-minded mama friends. One may even be — gasp! — knitting, while the most heartless harpy among us checks looks at her cell phone. A child — usually my youngest — tries to scramble up onto a platform just a little too large for him.

“Where’s your mommy?” I hear the high faux-nice voice say. “I’ll help you up.” And she looks around for someone to stinkeye.

This means that I have to haul my carcass up off the bench and spot my kid, because if he can’t get up on his own, he certainly can’t get down.

These are also the moms who hover theatrically under my children when they attempt to climb ladders, or scale rock walls, or swing from monkey bars. The helicopter moms stand there, arms held aloft, frantically looking for the mother to blame. “He’s making me nervous,” they might self-deprecatingly titter.

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The hoverers strictly enforce Park Rules, the unwritten ones everyone else ignores. Up the stairs and down the slide: they’ll say it loud and often. They’ll side-eye my kids until I get up and manage, “Let’s not climb up the slide, kids.” Even though climbing up the slide, as long as there’s no line, is half of what the slide is for. No sticks on the playground. No wrestling on the playground. No throwing pinecones, even when they aren’t aimed at anyone. No bare feet. No bare chests (hey, my kid got his shirt wet at the splash pad).

And NO playing in the mud, which just sets a bad example, because then her precious angel might want to get dirty as well.

I don’t come to the park to parent. I come to give my kids the freedom from parenting, within reasonable limits. I come to the park to let my kids explore. I come to the park to let my kids be kids.

And when moms stink-eye me for it, or worse, pick my kid up and put him where he can’t get to on his own, they ruin it.

Hoverer, maybe when your arms get tired from spotting Junior, you could try joining us on the bench. It’s nice over here in the shade, and we’re a friendly bunch. Maybe Junior will make some friends. Maybe he’ll run around and get dirty. Maybe it’ll be the most fun he has all day.

In the meantime, keep your helicoptering to yourself.

Related post: The 9 Worst Parents at the Playground

Comments

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  1. Gail says

    So…I feel like there are some gray areas here. I, too, enjoy me some good mama chatting time at the park while kiddos run hog wild. My 5 and 3 year olds do just fine on their own. I do, unfortunately, have to do a little hovering with the newly turned one year old (who thinks he is 5 and climbs deftly up the large climbers). While hovering, I sometimes encounter other people’s children who ASK ME FOR FREAKING HELP!?! Just the other day, I was helping me one year old navigate a too-large climber and a little girl or 3 or 4 reaches her hand out for help. She wasn’t very sure-footed and I felt guilty not helping her. But then I got the stink eye from her mom, as if I was helicoptering her! I am so tired of all of these divisive categories that we put mamas in – helicopter moms, free-range moms, attachment moms, etc etc….can we all just get along and stop judging each other?

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    • ack says

      Well said! There are definitely gray areas. I agree that kids should be left to play by themselves, but sometimes my kids won’t try something unless I’m with them the first time or so. And like you said, other kids have definitely asked me to help them with something even though I was ignoring them until that point. So if I give you the stink-eye, it’s because I came to the park to be with my kids,not yours. Blahblahblah, I’m sure there are more examples, but what’s the point? The main point is to be flexible to do whatever seems right at the time and stop feeling defensive about how you do things.

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    • BitchesLoveCoffee says

      I think the problem with us all just “getting along and not judging each other” comes from when we overlap – be it because our kid asks for help, or someone freaks out upon seeing a naked toddler in the neighbor’s yard and calls the cops, or ruins our trip to target by being an unparented little shithead who throws things while his mom is two aisles over laughing at home and he hit my bad ankle with a heavy fucking toy and I spilled some of my coffee and FUCK YOU LADY TAKE YOUR TODDLER IN HAND.

      *ahem*

      There’s overlap. It gets complicated. And the shitty parents ruin it for the chill parents, over and over. And the hyperactive “did you take your Xanax today lady?” parents ruin it for the helpful/cautious ones.

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      • Kate says

        I feel like this post a lone is negartively bashing the parents who do take there kids to the park to play with them .. I do . I study monday to friday ! Im a teen mom, without a car and the weekends are the only time we spend together, if you dont want to be judged, dont judge others either- which is directly what this article is doing .. judging the moms who WANT to play with their kids because you feel negativly about what your are personally doing yourself.- is wrong .. Did you guys ever think that maybe it ruins it for us when we have one day a week with our kids because we work our asses off for them , while you sit on a bench ..and your child is running around with pants on his head teaching mine that behaviour, fell six times so all my kid can do is stop and say mommy the babies hurt , and the mother on the bench is too busy talking about fucking wal mart that they cant get up and go sooth their childs boo boos better or help them out .. of course we will help .. we like children … If you need a break from your kids send them to their grandmothers, dont post a long huge rant on how people who love children are trying to judge you .. were not , we’re just trying to spend time with our kids and your shitty parenting style is getting in the way, so intsead of posting it on the internet for everyone to read, we gently and subtly help your kid out, and instead of saying thankyou, we get this… . If you arnt at the park to have fun with your kids, why are you there? for yourself. this doesnt make any sense , your judging them !!! your just assuming a look of worry is judgement but i never see any posts about the parents who wanna sit on the bench, cause unlike you we have those days, where all we wanna do issit on the bench , and we dont .. my kid is able to make friends with me around thanks.

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        • Charity says

          My stance is the same as yours! So glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! Kudos to you for standing up for moms like us. Until today I didn’t even realize there was such a thing as “helicopter mom”… I’m just being a mom to my babies and offering help to the other little ones who’s moms are too busy doing other things. I’m not judging them or their parenting, I just genuinely love kids and like to have fun at the park!

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          • Mary says

            WHY doesn’t everyone just ignore the “actions” of the Moms who annoy, frustrate, etc… and go about our businesses?!!?

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        • Tara says

          This post wasn’t bashing the moms that go to the park to play with their kids. It’s bashing the moms that try to interfere with the way other people deal with their kids at the park. If you want to spend your time there right next to your own kid, that’s great for you. Just don’t try to “help” my kid while you’re doing it.

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          • Carrie says

            ok, I won’t. So if or when your kid ends up with a head injury, and I was right there, and could’ve caught him before he fell, don’t look at me like its my fault! You have already asked for no one to help your child. Therefore, you will get your wish. (this is definitely one of the ‘gray’ areas that clearly were not covered in this article.) I don’t ‘hover’ over my kids at all, but if I see that they need help in one area or another, I am not going to tell them ‘no’! And if I am close by a child that isn’t mine, and they look at me, and ask for help, I’m not going to tell them ‘no’ either! Would you rather get your carcass up, and help your own kid, or have a stranger help your kid? Or no one help your kid, and they get injured? Cause uh, that’s the only three options out there when you’ve got your kid at a park. Just cause a person gets up to help their own child, doesn’t mean they’re ‘hovering’. What about the parent that doesn’t see that their kid is about to fall, so a stranger HAS to help that kid, cause their mommy was too busy gossiping about neighbor Bob? Should that parent thank the stranger or get mad cause her child was just ‘helped’ by a stranger?

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    • Colette says

      I completely agree with you, Gail! Sometimes I’m there for a mommy playdate, sometimes I’m there to give one of my kids a little one on one, away from the siblings. Sometimes I end up pushing kids that aren’t mine on the merry go round because my kid got off, a few more got on and I’m looking for one of their parents. I agree with a lot of this, but it’s not always so clear. I never ask a kid where their mommy is until I see tears or blood. But this does fit in line with my new cardinal rule – if a parent thinks my kid is doing something dangerous, tell my kid, not me! I don’t agree with you, and don’t feel like I need to rush over because you think I should. Don’t parent me!

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    • Shae says

      The ironic part is if I was standing there “hovering” over my child and your kid fell off the monkey bars and cracked their skull open, then “chill” mom would be like omg you were standing right there why didn’t you help him?! I’m sorry but how else are kids supposed to LEARN about social norms and boundaries if someone doesn’t TEACH them?? They don’t pick it up by osmosis! Kids don’t know that a slide is for sliding until someone shows them how. Ladders are for climbing. You’re teaching them how to interact with and in society. That is not hovering, that is basic fundamental parenting! “Free Range” parenting is only ok if you have taught your children how to act and operate in society. If your child is being a holy terror and you are sitting there doing nothing that’s not free range parenting, that’s lazy parenting.

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      • Beth says

        But why is there such a problem with walking up the slide – if there’s not a line of people waiting to come down?

        And no, I wouldnt be asking you why you werent looking out for my child. It’s not your job to look out for my child, it’s mine. And I’d probably be too busy making sure he was ok, looking for bleeding, and comforting him to even address you.

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        • Lucy Mauterer says

          I agree with walking up the slide. Should be fine if no one is waiting. We used to stand UNDER the slide and grab the sides and use our hands to go up the slide backwards underneath it. I never see kids do that anymore.

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        • Chase's Mommy says

          If the child is not ready to really socialize then it can actually slow their development down. Also to much socializing with other children can make the child pull away from the parent and cling to children their own age and then they want listen to the parent. With that being said I will take my son when he is older to the park to play with him and let him play with the other children. If I need to help another child I will but I want be one of these parents that ask where their mom is right out of the gate. The only time I will ask is if the child gets hurt or they are being mean to others.

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      • planetEarthJanet says

        “…omg you were standing right there why didn’t you help him?!” this speaks VOLUMES about the role you like to play in the proverbial sandbox, Ms. Stinkeye Helicopter. How about trying this boundary on for a few minutes: my children are not permitted to interact with strange adults, period. Lay a hand on my child, for ANY reason, I will be there faster than a rocket booster to rip the face off of a potential sex offender.

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        • RUSerious says

          “Lay a hand on my child, for ANY reason, I will be there faster than a rocket booster to rip the face off of a potential sex offender.”

          Really? So many reasons to be worried about this response. Firstly, because everyone is a potential sex offender, and most child sexual abuse comes from people the child knows, not the “stranger” in the park.

          And you comment on boundaries? To be willing to judge and pass sentance on someone because they’re “potentially” anything violates boundaries quicker than the US invades countries with Oil.

          I imagine you’re a pretty lonely person.

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        • Carrie says

          soooo, if someone sees your child about to injure them self, and you’re not paying attention, or you simply just don’t notice, no one is supposed to keep her from possibly badly hurting herself, or worse yet, killing herself? Cause they may be a potential sex offender. I really hope you think over your rule before you announce it to the park mommies. Just so they know to not help your kid in any way so they don’t get sued for potentially helping keep your child safe. you know, cause again, they’re potential sex offenders. LOL.

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          • Anne says

            How many times are you going to say something about a kid injuring him or herself at the park?? You really see yourself as a one-woman guardian angel team, eh?

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        • Carrie says

          I was telling my husband about this article, and the ridiculous things that were being posted, and I of course told him about your post!! He wants to know something….Dos that include YOU as far as being a “potential sex offender”? LMAO.

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    • LiaM says

      Been there, gotten the look for that. *laugh* My eldest is a monkey.
      What’s worse? I work in schools, I handle playground duty. So some of that helping kids down or checking on them or pushing them on swings business is just slipping into work mode, not at ALL a commentary on parents. When I am supposed to be watching them, parents aren’t there. :P

      Also, I generally only tell a kid, “Let’s not climb the slide” if I just saw another kid about to barrel down in their FACEMEAT. :P

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    • grimcore says

      I generally have this problem ALL THE TIME. I’m an active mom of a 3 1/2 year old autistic child who throws fits and tantrums at the store every now and then. I get the stink eye in public when he hums and makes weird noises. I also love to help him at the park, and every now and then I’ll see a child struggling who needs help while mommy is too busy with friends and/or cell and isn’t paying attention. So I do the “nice thing” (which is generally to help those in need), but upon looking up after said act of kindness, I’m receiving the stink eye from mommy who thinks I’m trying to kidnap/molest her child. I don’t believe in touching other peoples kids, but then again I don’t like seeing kids get hurt because mommy doesn’t have a clue (I could just whip out the cell and record the child falling to their imminent boo-boo, but that would also be wrong). There is nothing wrong with socializing with other women at the park, but I know just as much as anyone that being as social as I am with a child of special needs, I tend to get absorbed in conversations (which is not a bad thing at all). As much as I would love to talk to other mothers at the park who have neurotically developing children who listen when they are being called, I know that I can’t! It hurts not being one of the other mothers. I wouldn’t mind NOT being classified as a “helicopter” mom or “hoover,” and instead being thanked every now and then for helping a child in need. I just happen to have to focus on my wondering/non verbal child who doesn’t listen to his name being called because he gets so absorbed in his surroundings. I don’t see a “helicopter/ hoovering” mom as a bad thing, unless she has no children with her at the park (which would really make me wonder why she is at a park playing with strangers children to begin with.)

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      • Anon says

        Hey, I love your humor! And i get the pain:( i am a Mummy to 2 children. One with Autism and the other looking that way too. I get eyed regularly at parks for hovering but I have to! for his safety and others. If i did let him do whatever he liked it would end in disaster. I cant just call him and wait for him to come back, he gets absorbed in a bubble. I have to teach him how to use the equipment properly and yes sometimes it breaks my heart! Many people will know what a lot of children with something like Autism NEED those boundaries to be black and white. I tried to just let him go off exploring when he was younger and i got eyed for that too. So now we have to do it together. I wish i didn’t have to be holding his hand the entire time (Flight hazard!) but it is necessary. There is way too much judgement out there. Things aren’t always as they seem. More often than not i am the one having to apologize for his normal behavior (Oh the irony!) when he does use equipment properly. i.e going down a slide and bumping into a kid at the other end who was trying to climb up, usually resulting in me being eyed or mouthed more often than not, for ‘letting’ my child hurt theirs. Even tho they were a few feet away. I am the one shouting for mine to stop and wait his turn while a smaller kid in front slowly climbs up only for a few seconds later to have a group of other children barge past the both of them. Accidents happen. Kids will be kids. I have no problem with people going up slides, climbing swings etc, heck, i did it. But the judgement has to stop on all sides.

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        • Lucy Mauterer says

          I had a flight hazard child too. Put a harness and leash on her and endured all kinds of evil looks, and occasionally some poor misguided person would be stupid enough to say something. I always said it was better than having her become roadkill. That usually shut them up. I totally understand some kids need more supervision than others.

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      • says

        My brother has special needs. I’ve been in public so many times about him throwing fits or whatever. If anyone gives me the bad looks, I throw them over my shoulder. I’m to busy taking a care of my brother and if they have a problem with that, then by all means come figure out what to do while I watch and snicker at you. haha. Yeah. Parenting special needs is hard. Just know that there are other who deal with it too. You aren’t alone. =]

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    • Ronni says

      No judgment against those who are not helicopter parents, but, some of us helicopter moms have to keep our blades spinning for a reason. Your neurotypical, properly sized for age and development child may be just fine learning to scale a ladder not quite their size yet. Mine, who may look like a normal fully developed 10 or 11 year old is only 7 and has an amazing lack of coordination or muscle development due to a sensory disorder. Maybe my arms are outstretched because I know he can and has lost grip just because the metal is a touch to warm or cold for him, or, his sheer muscle mass is too much for him to hold himself up. Maybe I want to be close so when your 4 year old lets out a normal high pitched squeal instantly turns mine into an anxiety and pain driven out of control kid and he tries to smack or god forbid even grab your little one by the neck because his primal need to just make the pain stop NOW takes over. Maybe I don’t want to have to console him just seconds later when he is appalled at himself for hurting that little one or I have to try to explain to your frightened and stunned child that he is so sorry and didn’t mean to hurt you. Some of us just want a nice day at the park too and it just isn’t as simple as you might seem. Some of us wish we could be sitting chatting with the other Mommies but we can’t. We have to pilot this helicopter before it crashes in a manner you couldn’t imagine.

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      • Anya says

        Thank you, exactly. My seven year old is autistic and I go to the park with his younger sisters and am some helicopter hybrid? Not on the bench but not standing behind him either, just vigilant. Like batman? Haha. Anyway, some of us have to be close to our kids for a reason. He was non verbal until he was almost six so sometimes being on that bench would have blocked him signing “help!”. That doesn’t mean I’m trying to parent someone else’s kid just because I’m within 10 feet of them.

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      • Robbie says

        If your kids hurts other kids because they are squealing or laughing loudly AT THE PARK, then your kid needs to stay home. He is a danger to others. What a freak you are to think this is OK because the sound hurts his head. I have migraines all the time & loud kids hurt my head & I would never in a million years put my hand on anyone else. DANGER TO OTHERS

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        • Heather says

          I’m sorry. You do not understand sensory disorders at all. I would suggest you educate yourself about them. I also suffer from migraines. I have since I was 2 and I am now 36. I know the pain they cause. I also have a son with Sensory Processing Disorder. They are not the same thing. He also suffers from migraines. I am thankful that his reaction to loud sounds as a small child was so put his hands over his ears and cry. That was a more socially acceptable reaction. However, for some children, they have a primal need to make the offensive noise stop. These children should not be kept at home. I would suggest you check out websites such as http://www.thesensorysmartchild.com and http://www.sinetwork.org

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        • Susan says

          Wow that has to be, of all the comments I have read on this blog, the most judgemental, uneducated reply I have read. No child should be kept at home least of all one who suffers from sensory disorders. They are children just like your own only they have difficulty dealing with too much input. The fact that the mom you replied to stays with her child to ensure he/she does not hurt another child is responsible and a way to help teach that child a better way of coping. You obviously have no idea how hard it is to deal with a child who is not a “normal healthy” child and should probably take some time volunteering with said children to get educated. I bet you are one of those moms who judge others when their child is screaming and refusing to go the way the parent wants to go even when the parent is clearly trying to deal with said child. I will assume you would not recognise a child with autism and this is just one way it shows itself. Stop being so judgemental and try to learn about the difficulties other parents go through.
          I have a niece and nephew who have aspergers and I have another niece and nephew who suffer from sensory processing disorder. I have gotten the looks when the little angels did not do exactly as society has dictated that they should and to be honest I am sick of the judgement and they are not even my children. Lord only knows how much crap their parents have to go through.

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    • danielle says

      I agree that kids should be allowed to just play. Normal kids.
      I am a helicopter mom, and for good reason. I have a child with multiple neurological and physical disabilities. I have no choice but to hover and clean everything he might touch and clean his hands every time he touches anything i missed.
      I feel judged when the other mothers snicker at me from the sidelines saying i must be a new mom.
      That is why i hate this kind of judgmental crap. I can’t help that my kid can die from a cold and i hate that i feel likei am being made fun of by the mo s of normal kids.

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    • Elizabeth says

      I understand that you’re trying to speak from the other side of the coin, but you’re missing the point the author is trying to make here. I don’t always sit on the bench at the park, but if one of my children asked me for help, the answer would likely be one of the following: “Figure it out,” “You can do it,” or “You can try it again when you’re a little bigger.” My philosophy at the playground is that if they can’t do it on their own, they can’t do it yet. If they don’t try something on their own, that’s okay because there will be other days at the park. If my children have a favorite activity at the park and ONLY want to do that activity, that’s fine too. I don’t stop anyone from hovering over their children, and expect that others would respect that I don’t want people hovering over mine.

      I certainly understand the need for a higher degree of supervision for children with special needs, but that doesn’t change how I would expect someone to answer my child if one of them asked for help. On the same token, my children don’t normally ask for help, and typically get very upset when someone tries. When one of my little ones was about 18 months, an adult was completely blocking her way up the steps on the playground equipment, and asked her if she needed help as she reached down to pick her up. I was standing less than 5 ft from her and politely said that she was just waiting her turn to go up the steps and didn’t need help because the woman completely ignored my soft-spoken daughter’s attempts to tell her no. We ended up leaving the park early that day because there were so many adults on the equipment that my kids were getting frustrated because they couldn’t get through the tight spaces designed for children that were being blocked by parents. No judgment here, and I expect the same from others. If your attention is truly needed by your special needs child, then you really don’t have time to stop and hover over my children, right?

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    • Angela says

      This is stupid. Just another thing saying who is the better parent. I think we all have hovered and just sat on a bench to take a break for a little bit. I never knew mothers were like this always judging I guess they can’t get over high school.

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    • Amanda says

      I agree with this comment. It also comes down to knowing your own child’s limits – which no one else but you knows! I have an 18 month old who is a monkey and thinks she can climb anything (and for the most part, can!) But I also know that she has absolutely no concept of heights, she will step off any edge thinking the ground will be right beneath her, and she often can’t safely get down from places she gets up. At home, I’m more willing to step back and let her figure it out but in a strange, public place that she doesn’t know the ins and outs of, one step is all it will take for her to injure herself, rather dramatically. I’d rather hover than have a trip to emergency, thanks!

      I actually found the article rather rude and judgemental – and I don’t normally get bothered by this “mummy war” bullshit. Each to their own – why write stuff to stir trouble?

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    • Nicole Piraino says

      This is why I only go to park during the week when no ones around I have issues with the bratty kids who push my kids or won’t be nice parents raise little brats I just want to smack the parents so i avoid parks we live in the country back off the road with plenty of land for my kids to run around and explore I am not a people person too many stupid people.

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      • Carrie says

        That’s a great idea, to only go to the park during the week, when kids are most likely at daycare, and parents at work. There is less kids there during that time. I stay home with my kids, so that won’t be an issue for us! I will do that this summer.

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    • Cara Turner says

      Perfectly said Gail! How about we all stop being so hard on each other and knock off the labels? I agree with much of the article but also agree that there is some grey area. What I don’t agree with is the decisive, better-than-you tone.

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  2. erica says

    I swear I’m not getting my panties in a twist here, but I feel like I can speak from the other side on this one. I’ve done this – I’ve helped other people’s kids (sometimes ’cause they ask me) , I’ve worried about other people’s kids going too high, too far… I admit it. My kids were little and I did hover. I really didn’t do it just to stink-eye someone, I was actually trying to be a good person. I was there, a kid needed help… I do it less now that my kids are older, so maybe these “hoverers” aren’t thinking bad things about you, they just have a different approach to the park. And I agree with Gail (above) – this feels unnecessarily divisive. It’s a vicious circle – you judge her because you think she’s judging you…

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    • JTLA says

      I am totally a hoverer, and it’s for a lot of the reasons you sited: someone looked like or said they needed some help. I am also confused about the angry tone of this essay, but maybe that’s the point. We think we are being helpful and because we are acting from a place of good intentions, we don’t pick up on the clues that we are annoying other people. Still, more mommy war fodder is annoying. Another fight to divide us.

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    • Lauren says

      I actually refuse to help kids do what they can’t do themselves, for the reasons the author mentioned: if they can’t gut up, then they probably can’t get down. “You can do whatever you can do yourself” is my rule for all kids in my orbit, mine as well as others’. I am quite happy to explain how they could achieve their goal, but that’s it. I do feel the pressure from more attentive parents than I, but I’ve pretty consciously decided to go with the ‘takes a village’ theory and act and react accordingly.

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      • Chris says

        I agree, a child learns so much when s/he has to navigate that ladder back down. By helping them down we have taken away learning. Sure the first time it might be wise to spot, but don’t help. You would never help a chick out of it’s egg because we have all learned that the chicken gets all its strength for life by breaking out of the egg by itself. Why do we take these opportunities away from our kids?

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        • Mamacita says

          @ Chris

          Because our children are not baby chicks. Each species parents differently.

          Baby kangaroos are kept in their mother’s pouch until they are ready to explore on their own. Baby birds get pushed out of the nest if they’re weak and didn’t learn to fly. Mice eat their young if they are disabled or have too large of a litter. Good thing that we don’t take cues from nature, otherwise our children would be eaten, or pushed out of a window, or stuffed back inside our vaginas until they are ready to explore.

          It all comes down to culture. Perhaps you could study anthropology, and learn about all the different methods worldwide when it comes to child rearing.

          To each his own. We’re not animals, we are humans. My children are not baby chicks, so that is why I will not let them climb on things too high for them without being there to catch them, or why I helped my 15 month old up the slide stairs until he was physically able to navigate it alone (that only took a few weeks and a few falls off the slide even though I was right there). I’m not taking any experiences away from him.

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          • Lisa says

            Humans are animals, of the mammal class, since you clearly missed biology. And children learn by doing, by testing their limits, but falling down and getting bumps sometimes, although hopefully not too often. If they don’t get chances to learn their limits and test their independence when they are young, their mental growth will be just as stunted as a chick’s physical growth if helped too much to get out of an egg.

            Parents who don’t understand this, which seems to be far, far too many, are damaging their children in their unnatural attempts to protect them from ever even slightly risking physical injury.

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          • Robbie says

            1 – a kangaroo pouch is not it’s vagina. Well done in BIOLOGY not anthropology. And 2. – Some kids really SHOULD have been eaten at birth.

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      • Christi says

        Yes! I never “help” a child who isn’t mine for that very reason. If a kid wants to be helped up a ladder or pushed on a swing I say, “you need to find mommy, honey.” I came to the park for my son.

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    • cole says

      I am just getting to the point where I can watch my toddler from across the playground. He can climb to the top of the monkey bars but then he is stuck so he is not allowed to climb so high. I don’t let him slide down poles because he can’t reach across the gap yet. I had a mom who was an emergency room nurse tho so between her stories and accidents my brothers got into I may be a smidge paranoid

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    • Sarah says

      I do not like the angry tone either. I do go to the park to spend time and play with my ONLY child. The moms at our playgrounds are rude and I feel like they are judging me. You want to be cool mom and hang back, I want to get up and play with my daughter, she’s the only one I get to have. Don’t judge me, I won’t judge you! Usually really like your posts, this one definitely rubbed me the wrong way!

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      • Andrea says

        I agree with Sarah. Normally I like what is said and find it a fresh breath of air but not this. I’m a PT and I treat the kids that have fallen at the playgrounds…90% of the time, the parent was not near the child at the time of incident. So guess what! I am the mom that hovers and I really don’t give a f- who is or isn’t judging me. If your child is not safe on the playground, then be around them. It’s called (gasp) LEARNING! I know, shocking.

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        • Sarah says

          GASP! Your kid isn’t going to learn a DAMN thing if you NEVER let them try ANYTHING on their own and hover constantly! I have FOUR BOYS. FOUR. BOYS. Do you know how many times I’ve had to take them to the ER due to playground injuries?

          ZERO. NADA. ZILCH.

          My SIL has ONE son. She hovers, constantly. We all went to the playground and low and behold, Junior tried to play on the equipment (which he was more than age appropriate for) and Mommy Perfect was two steps behind him, instead of right there and he got hurt. Why? Because he was so insecure about climbing across by himself…chasing after his younger cousin and all the other kids, that he panicked and tried to get down and fell.

          Moral of the story, when they are little or something is brand new and they are nervous, by all means, help them out. However, you can’t wrap them up in bubble wrap and soften EVERY blow for them. That’s just not teaching them how to do anything, how to experience life or have any pride in accomplishing things on their own. They also have to learn that they won’t die if the get a bump or a bruise. If you are watching them, but not hovering, they shouldn’t be in a situation where they are going to DIE if they fall, they might get banged up and no one is going to like that, but they’ll learn that they’ll be okay.

          Like I said, I have no problem helping mine out if they need it, or when they are little or trying something new…I never go far out of reach and I certainly am close enough to get to them quickly and make sure they can all hear me, but there is also FOUR of them, so it is impossible for me to hover over all of them at the playground at once. That is how I learned to let go a little…that they are going to be okay. That they’ll be MORE than okay, that they will GROW from a little independance.

          So, excuse me ER nurse. I don’t feel like “F’ing” myself today. See, my one two youngest boys have hockey practice (I’m one of their coaches) and one of the older boys has football, so I want to do that instead. Hopefully, you’ll let go of YOUR insecurities and let your kids be just that…KIDS someday too.

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          • Sweetluna says

            YES! Well said! I can’t help but feel in our attempt to “help” or “protect” our children we are in fact taking away the ability to learn self confidence, risk management, and independent thought. I’m the parent giving my son distance to let him explore his world. I’m keeping an eye to make sure he doesn’t eat something that will poison him or act stupid where he or another child could get hurt but there is nothing, and I mean nothing, like hearing him scream “Noah did it!!” after trying something new on his own. He is 2.5 and he does well on any playground he goes to.

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          • Kristy says

            Your SIL has one and you have four. You might not remember how it feels to have one child and even if you do, her feelings might not be the same. You don’t know her child like she does and how it feels for her. She might have tried the sit back and watch and he wasn’t ready for that. He might not currently have confidence because he has misjudge his own abilities in the past and is currently a little unsure and needs encouragement just to try again! Not all kids readily pick themselves up and try again after a scare. Hoovering parent or not, some kids would just not bother with the monkey bars again without some encouragement if they have a bad experience. You mentione he got hurt, even with her right there, but maybe not because she hoovers, but perhaps simply because her son is not as coordinated as yours are…maybe they haven’t had as much time and experience as you and your boys have had at the park? Maybe he is just a unique child that is prone to accidents. Maybe she was ok with him playing on his own…until he got hurt and someone commented that she should have been right there. Some will shame for not hoovering and some will shame for hoovering…we need to stop shaming either one and try to understand different people have different needs. And please understand that a women who is nervous about your child’s safety may just CARE about you and them! They might not be automatically judging you. They may have seen a child fall. I know I have and it was very scary and I wish I could have done something to prevent it. There was blood and I don’t know the outcome…If a mom sits back, says nothing and does nothing, because it’s not her business and then something happens (even if it’s to someone else’s child) she will feel awful… Be understanding Ladies. Be supportive. Be kind. We are all in this together (or at least we should be).

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          • Jaime says

            You even said that it is due to your having four boys that you LEARNED to let go a little. This implies you were not always this way. Other people are still learning too despite your feeling like you already have things figured out. Sometimes what is best for you and your children is not best for another mother and her child.

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          • Susan says

            I have a problem with that as you see I am raising my fourth boy and do you know how many trips I have had to the ER? Quite a few! The fourth boy I hover over more than the older three. You see when parents look at us at the park they see a parent hovering over a child who should be old enough to go up and down slides and play on the climber on his own. However, said child could end up in a wheelchair permanently if he takes even the slightest fall off the playground equipment. I find this article very annoying and a lot of the comments very angering! You don’t know to look at my little man that anything is wrong with him but, your kids that are running around on the equipment playing tag put him at high risk of injury. Before anyone says anything about not taking him to the park don’t bother. He has as much right to be there as anyone else. If children played on the equipment properly he wouldn’t be at such a risk but, kids don’t so I hover.

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          • lou says

            I believe we can each only reasonably judge the abilities of children we know well and I am a bit shocked at how vicious the ‘anti hoverers’ are here.

            If you have the luxury of an entire playground with only your kid in it – then do what you will. Otherwise, accept that a parent who is in the vicinity of play equipment may interact with your child. Likely, it will not scar your child for life because someone reached out a hand when they stumbled right in front of a stranger whose instinct was to assist. Take a breath, smile and let it go.

            Chances are good no parent came to the park intending to worry about your child.

            But those `hoverers` you so disdain are only looking to make sure each child has an adult paying at least modest attention to them. If you see a `hoverer` looking around anxiously, try just saying – `he`s mine and he`s alright“. Chances are good all you`ll get back is a smile :) They`ll be relieved it isn`t some lost or unattended kid they need to deal with and they can go back to enjoying their own child`s play.

            Remember, your child may be an expert climber wearing something other than flip flops to trip over and be fine. But, the next kid may have just snuck out of sight of mom and be way over their head.

            And, I see a lot of hover-haters here have multiple children. Some of us have only 1 child who may not know anyone in the park to play with. Easy to say `let them play` when they have a sibling or friend along they know well enough to approach. It can be tough as a lone child to introduce one`s self to other kids, especially if those kids are playing with other kids already. A playground where a child is sitting watching other kids have fun is a lonely place. Maybe that `hoverer`is just trying to help their child open dialogue with a potential playmate. Chill baby . . . chill I say.

            And, if you choose to be a bench warmer, try being glad a parent or two is willing to stay within reach of the equipment and maybe even take a turn being that parent :) Just saying.

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          • Lucy Mauterer says

            Four boys are a lot to keep track of. I had a girl (oldest) and a boy two and a half years later. The girl went to the ER more times than I can recall. I should have invested in a suture company. I believe she kept them in business. She had zero fear. At 39, she is still that way. Wildly successful in her field. My younger one, the boy, was more cautious. Eventually he became more adventurous, traversing the Appalachian Trail for days, scuba diving, rappeling, etc. Some just take longer to develop. We need to stop being defensive and critical of others. We are basically here to help one another.

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        • P.Williams says

          Good for you! There is a great middle ground between helping your child every second and sitting there ignoring your child. And I don’t care what ANY other mommy says if you are on the playground with my child none of them are playing with sticks. Have you ever seen someone get stabbed with a stick? It could put a child’s eye out. Usually not the one who is carrying the stick. It is not “letting your child have freedom to grow” it’s freaking DANGEROUS! Kids get badly hurt all the time at on a playground with and without parents paying attention. I encourage my son to explore and I am there to “spot” him when needed. But I step back when I can. I sit with other mothers who NEVER even look over to check on their children. I’ve seen their child hit mine or other kids. Block the slide because they know that mama isn’t watching and they can get away with it. And yes I’ve seen them get hurt because they thought they were invincible. I sat with one crying injured child for almost 5 minutes while my husband searched for their oblivious mother who didn’t know her child was injured until he tracked her down busy chatting with some other mothers. I have to wonder if she would have noticed if a predator had lured her child off. I’d much rather see the hovers on the playground than the “I’m too busy doing other things to make sure that my child is playing safely and nicely.” No I’m not the one who lifted your child up, but I could very well have been the one trying to make sure he didn’t fall from the monkey bars. By the way I entered a 5K obstacle run once that had monkey bars for the adult women. And out of the entrants there were 3 broken bones (one badly broken) and at least a dozen other injuries. Yes I let my son use them but I would never tempt fate as one commenter did, by bragging that he’s never been injured on them. Hopefully your child won’t pay for your arrogance.

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        • Beverly says

          I work in an ER and I also care for injured children. Accidents happen and it is unwise to skip all precautions. That being said, the author is not talking about really small children, she specifically mentions 6 year olds. A six year old should be able to hold their own on a playground. A six year old who can not handle his or her self on a playground probably should have been seeing you for PT long before the accident.

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        • KJD says

          I agree and it is all about balance. However, after the playground death of a 6-year old who I knew and loved, my view is clearer. And, in working with local police and conducting “Playground Safety” seminars, a few pieces of research stand out (think of it as a triangle). #1–Kids will be kids. They will do things that are beyond their ability and developmental level. In certain aspects, this may help develop independence, however, there is a sizable percentage that results in serious injury. #2–Use of playground equipment in incorrect ways is a major cause of serious (ie. hospitalization/ER trip) injury. #3–Lack of parental/adult supervision is a major contributing cause to playground-related injury. When that triangle combines and all three pieces are at play, the consequences are devastating. Absolutely devastating. And, I refuse to be the person that stands back and allows another child to die. Label it however you choose. I would rather carry the label and not be walking alongside the casket of a 6-year old who happened to have those 3 pieces combine and result in horrific consequence.

          There is a balance between hovering a not paying attention. I can let my children explore while watching…I can hold my cup of coffee and talk with a friend–who knows that I am not being rude by not making eye contact as we chat because my eyes are watching my children. That is my balance. There is enough decisiveness out there without judging how parents choose to parent at playgrounds.

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      • Tara says

        Nobody cares if you go to the park to play with your child. They care when you feel the need to interfere with their children. She’s complaining about those moms that hover over other peoples children. Mind your own business and nobody cares what you do.

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    • says

      For me the problem comes in when another mom actually picks my child up and lifts them, being “helpful”.

      I know they don’t know that I’m physically limited. They don’t know that if my child gets up there, and can’t get down, I am physically unable to go up after them. I don’t *look* disabled. You can’t see the crooked bone in my leg by looking at me.

      When my kids were shorties, I had “helpful” parents judge me (No, I’m not assuming. Words were spoken.) I’ve had them “help” my kids right into situations that then I had to go and find someone who wasn’t an a-hole, to help us back out of again… Like the idiot who “helped” my son up the slide ladder while I was distracted with my daughter, then chased her own kid off across the playground, leaving my son stranded (he wasn’t as good at getting down as he thought he would be.)

      Keeping an eye on someone else’s kid while you follow your own around is no problem. Hey, some of yours might be littler, more adventurous, or just plain clumsy because they’re at that awkward age where they haven’t quite learned how to operate limbs that are growing at what seems like inch-a-minute rates yet.
      The problem comes in when you start parenting my kid as well as your own.

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    • Rachel says

      I agree with you. I go to the park to play with my daughter because we enjoy playing together. Not because I judge the other moms! If kids come up to me it’s because they realize we are having fun. But I do try to direct them back to their own moms. Without judgement.

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    • April says

      Agree with Kathleen…felt like this article was more judging the Mom’s for playing with their kids at the park. I’m a working Mom and sometimes I interact with my kids at the playground because I haven’t seen them all day or because I enjoy their company, not to judge other parents for not, and I shouldn’t be judged for that either. Or if there is a child that is particularly rough there, I stay closer so that my 2 year old doesn’t get shoved off the 6 foot platform…guess that makes me a hoverer? Maybe the hoverers are anxious Moms like me? You are judging just like the Moms you are complaining about…we all have our own stories and journeys. Just send out love to the moms…we are all doing the best we can.

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      • Lanae says

        I’m with you. I don’t see myself as a “helicopter parent” by any means but when I take my kid to the park I do like to play with him, because I’ve worked all day and he wants my attention and I want to interact with him. My son is quite a bit younger than the age group I think the author is talking about but even then…if my son turns 6 and wants me to be the teeter to his totter or to push him on the swing even though he is perfectly capable of doing it himself, well so be it.

        Someone pointed out the problem with the labels. I used to cringe when helicopter parent came about and now roll my eyes when someone mentions “free range” parenting. Can’t we just say “parenting”? We are all parents…parenting the way we see fit. If you feel that someone is interfering with your kids playground play can’t you just get up and come over and tell them that the child is question is yours and he doesn’t need help and if he does he knows where momma is to get it?

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  3. Kathleen says

    Yeah, I’m in between these. My 3 year old has successfully climbed ladders (the high ones though, she wants help with) gone down the highest, twistiest slides, and climbed a faux rock wall meant for 5-12 year olds (I totally took a picture of her doing that). I hover over my 1 year old because he still puts things in his mouth. But I DO enforce the playground rules. Sorry if that makes me lame but I’m not going to have some kid (or MY kid) get hurt or learn that it’s okay to break the rules just because she wants to climb up the slide or jimmy open a locked gate on the top of the slide (just saw that the other day, and YEAH, I looked around for a parent because there’s a reason park officials have closed off that slide and you just know they’d be the parents that would sue if something happened). I take my kids to the park for lots of reasons, one of which is to play with them.

    So I guess I’m somewhere between free-range and helicopter parent. And yes, I’ll help other kids if they need help. I probably won’t stink eye the parent unless I happen to know they’ve spent the entire time ignoring their toddler while talking/texting/doing whatever on their cell phone.

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    • P.Williams says

      Perfectly said. I won’t help another child up, but I will help one down if they ask or look stranded. I will also tell the kid being a brat or doing something dangerous that it’s not allowed. This mom talked about sticks and throwing pinecones. Sticks do not belong where a child can fall and impale themselves. EVER! It’s insane that any parent doesn’t realize how extremely dangerous sticks on a playground are. As for throwing things. I’ve seen how that goes too. Your kid starts throwing pinecones at a tree and little Johnny thinks it’s funny to throw them at other kids. Then another kid decides that since no one is stopping it it’s OK to throw things and he picks up a rock and throws it. Then some other poor kid gets hit in the head and needs stitches. Some rules are important. Even if it was a pinecone if it hit a child in the eye it could blind them. When you are on the playground you might know that your kids know the rules or how to play safely but their actions are influencing a lot of other kids who might not have the same common sense or impulse control. It’s one reason that when my son plays on the playground with younger kids he has different rules than when it’s just older kids.

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      • Alicia says

        You’re joking right?! Not to burst your bubble wrap, but sticks and pine cones are everywhere. It’s called nature. That includes a playground.

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        • Kristy says

          I think you missed that part about the rock? Like it or not some kids don’t (yet) distinguish the consequence and difference of throwing a pine cone vs. throwing a rock. If kids are throwing things they will want to throw things too! They may be less coordinated and not even intending to hit another person, but it happens with some kids.
          PLEASE note: If a mother asks your child to stop throwing things (pine cones or otherwise), please don’t take it personally…she is not telling you that you should have told them and she is not telling you that you are a bad parent for letting them throw things…she is simply telling them that her child is here at the park too and he will want to throw things too, but she knows he is uncoordinated and will likely hurt someone unintentionally. It’s not judgey. It’s one parent knowing her child and asking that the environment be one where everyone can safely play. It’s not your child’s fault or your fault that the other kid doesn’t understand the difference between pine cones and rocks…but it’s not their fault either! Some kids are born this way and need way more guidance than others! It’s a struggle for them and they are trying their best to work on it. It’s not all about you.

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          • Carrie says

            If another adult told my child to stop doing something, my child would ignore them or, as my daughter was fond of doing when she was very little, shout ” not my mom” and ignore them. Of course, I had a mom complain to me that my kids (and half the playground) were playing with “guns” (or, their index fingers, held in a very pointy fashion), by saying we don’t play guns at our house and I simply shrugged and said “good thing this is the park and not your house then”, so my kids come by it honestly.

            If it isn’t against my rules, I’m not enforcing someone else’s. If my kid is tossing pine cones at a tree, I’m going to let him do that. If your kid isn’t able to do the same without incident, you need to parent your own child and do something about it. Teach them the difference between a rock and a pine cone, a person and a tree. Take them away from other people and let them practice their throwing, where they won’t hit other people, distract them with the slide. Whatever. Anything but telling my kid they can’t do something, that isn’t harmful, because someone else can’t.

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  4. N says

    I agree with the above. I go to a playground to play with my kid, and let them play as well. All this black and white thinking is so aggravating. Being in a public space with other parents and kids means dealing with other parenting methods, and the less bitter judgement we can manage to fling each other’s way, the better.

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    • jugglemom says

      Sorry but as much as you don’t like to be judged for your parenting choices the article is laden with judgment! Yes it is rude for the stinkeye but it is also rude to leave it to another parent who came to play with thier kid (which also has great value for development) to have to take on your child (who has invted themself as kids do)too. Stop the parent shaming.

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  5. says

    I agree with what others are saying… I’m somewhere in the middle. I let my kids climb ladders and toys by themselves and do some chatting, but I also like to keep an eye on my kiddos – I have a 3 year old and a 1.5 year old who sometimes does need help even if they are both very independent. While I may not keep all the playground rules, yeah, I’m going to give you the stink-eye if your child is is too big to be on the equipment and is pushing other kids and being way too rough and you aren’t doing anything. It’s incredibly frustrating to be a parent of tiny kids and then have much older kids running around knocking them over and playing on equipment that is not for them. If your kids are well behaved, I don’t care if you’re chatting with your mom friends. I do go to the park to play with my kids, though. I may not actually hover underneath them, but I’m going to walk around from a distance to make sure I can see them – usually because they want me to see them and interact with them.

    Parenting is rarely black and white – there are many gray areas and I think all of these labels and judging is not helping.

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    • Mfm says

      I’m with you on this! My kids are 3 and 16 months and I still need to hover a bit. The 3 year old actually loves to climb and try things herself so we give her tons of freedom to play and meet other kids. But the 16 month old still puts everything in his mouth so I have to keep close! I also let him climb the slides, etc which he loves to explore., but because of numerous falls, head, and eye injuries and his “no fear-get-back-on-and-do-the-same-thing” mentality, I as a parent have to step in and hover. It’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation for parents. I get judgement glares and comments from moms who see my son with major cuts and bruises and think I’m not doing my job watching him closely enough. But then I see articles like this or read like-minded comments and think hey…I was giving my son the freedom to play and explore and this is what happened!

      I think playground parents need to ease up a bit and/or get off their high horse of perfect parenting. Let’s just let babies be babies, kids be kids and acknowledge that all mamas, papa, and parents are just trying their best.

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    • Susan Gay says

      Not my monkeys not my circus!!! Proud mama of 30 year old twins, out of the house with jobs!!! Been there done that… The park I took mine to was seldom used by others … So it was usually just us. They went to daycare so this was our playtime!

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  6. Fiona says

    Oh my gosh I totally get this!! I like to leave my kids alone at the playground while I read a book. I play with them at home, I took them to the park so they could play without me. I hate it when other parents stick their noses into my kids business. If my kid is doing something that it totally not okay and might hurt another kid I intervene but damn people back off. I’ve had to leave several playgrounds because the hoover mothers were harassing my kids so much and I didn’t want to get into a argument with some stranger.

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    • Ocean Zhang says

      “If my kid is doing something that it totally not okay and might hurt another kid I intervene”

      How exactly will you do this if you’re reading a book? I’m not arguing one side vs the other here. I’m just trying to learn your multi tasking mastery so I too can let my kid loose on the playground while I read a book and without breaking my reading rhythm, stop my kid from swing-kicking another kid in the face on the monkey bars. That would be totally awesome!

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      • Fiona says

        It’s pretty easy to occasionally look up from my book to check on my kid. I also have a sense of hearing which I can use to keep track of my kids. I’m sorry you can’t multitask. By all means follow your kid around and never let them out of your sight ever. Just leave my kids alone, they aren’t yours to hover over.

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  7. Shelley DeRouen says

    As a seasoned Mom of boys and an Operating Room nurse, I’d like to speak to the other viewpoint…..I’ve seen too many kids with bashed up heads and fractured necks, so it makes me a tad nervous to see them teetering up there as well. Even worse are the “shopping basket” kids, who, while Mom is comparing labels (nothing wrong with that), end up on the ground with an injury. I’m guilty of “helicoptering” them back into their seats, getting the stinkeye from their mother…hey, I grew up in the days of no seat belts, riding to the beach in the bed of the pickup truck, racing our dirtbikes down paved roads, so I am no wimp. Childhood is full of challenges, for kids and parents ;) Here’s to hoping no harm comes to our precious kiddos as they explore their world….

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    • Moderate Mama says

      I tend to agree. There is a middle ground. I had multiple concussions as a child and it’s not party (and this was in the 70’s). Not all kids have the same abilities either. So for every 3 year old who can climb the equipment designed for 5-12 year olds, there is one who cannot.

      I’m so tired the judgement women heap on each other and articles like this just make it worse.

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  8. Martha says

    Have you ever seen a kid being kicked in the head by another kid on the swing? I have. I’ve also seen that kid being taken away in an ambulance because he wasn’t responding. I’ve also witnesses a kid probably breaking her arm after climbing where she shouldn’t have been climbing, but there was no one to tell her that. In both cases the moms were sitting on the bench, and in both cases the kids were far too young to be on their own. So yoh kniw what? Scew your stupid playground “rules”! My only rule is ro make sure that my kid comes back home without a brain injury or a wheelchair! The only reason you “modern” moms inforcs these ridiculous rules is because most of you are to lazy to lift your butt and actually have some fun with your kids. With all the time you spend not being around for your kids, a mere hour at the park won’t kill you! How about bonding with your offspring? Oh no, right, you were busy “teaching” your kid to be independent. Sorry, my bad. Well guess what, the only thing you’re teaching your kid is that mommy won’t help then climb the ladder, but this stranger will. Good job lazy. And yes, I hover, and I’m proud of it. And I don’t go around shamimg other moms for trying to keep their kids safe. Shame on you, you pathetic remote control parent!

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    • Sharon says

      I feel like you’re being a little too aggressive. There are many “remote control parents” that are still keeping a keen watchful eye out. And there are plenty of us that do way more then our fair share of fun stuff with the kids. And often even kids that aren’t ours. But the playground is kids turf, as it were.
      I’m sorry that the playgrounds in your neighborhood are scary dangerous places where children get hurt. While I never want to see any child taken away in an ambulance or go away with a broken bone, I’m also very aware of studies about children. Did you know that a child that has broken a bone before the age of 7 is a larger risk taker later in life? And that those risk takers often live happier, more fulfilling lives? You know why? It’s because they know that getting hurt isn’t the end of the world. They will heal. They can get back up. And life goes on.
      Again, I’m sorry that your playgrounds are deathtraps. Perhaps instead of deriding other parents you should organize your community to repair, update or shut down the playgrounds in your area so they can be safe places for your children to play and learn.

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        • P.Williams says

          My son hasn’t had a broken bone YET, but that is only by the grace of God. I agree with you that they were likely always risk takers and would have been no matter what type of parent they had. I have a picture of my son when he was tiny (less than 18 months) and he is standing on his bounce and spin zebra, yes bouncing. At 2 1/2 we had to have our roof fixed after a hail storm. The roofer came over and he and daddy climbed the ladder, by the time I rounded the corner my son was climbing on the roof too. Around the time he was going to turn 6 he scaled between 2 walls (spider climb) ninja style to reach the ceiling. Then he requested that we hang a rope from the beam across the 16′ peak in our ceiling so he could practice climbing up there. Those are just a few of the things he’s done that made my heart skip a beat. Yes I hover some but he is my only child and he has no fear at all. I am not trying to stop him from experiencing life, I’m just trying to make sure that he makes it through life without a major life altering injury if at all possible. I didn’t stop him from climbing the walls but I taught him to land the right way if he falls. Not that he could still get hurt. I make him wear a helmet when we sled. But I’ve known 2 kids who had head injuries while doing it. Head injuries are nothing to mess around with. Maybe a few of these moms could use a good healthy dose of reality. If they saw and heard some of the things that happen to more kids then they realize they might not be so judgmental of parents who are trying to care for their child the best they know how. And like some of the others said I also enjoy playing with my child sometimes. So if he wants to swing and asks I push him on the swing instead of ignoring him. (Well not so much anymore since he can do it himself.) If he wants to play on the see-saw and no one is there to sit on the other side I will stop what I’m doing and spend a few precious moments with him. Sometimes other kids will come over and get on and that’s OK too.

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      • P.Williams says

        Perfectly said. I won’t help another child up, but I will help one down if they ask or look stranded. I will also tell the kid being a brat or doing something dangerous that it’s not allowed. This mom talked about sticks and throwing pinecones. Sticks do not belong where a child can fall and impale themselves. EVER! It’s insane that any parent doesn’t realize how extremely dangerous sticks on a playground are. As for throwing things. I’ve seen how that goes too. Your kid starts throwing pinecones at a tree and little Johnny thinks it’s funny to throw them at other kids. Then another kid decides that since no one is stopping it it’s OK to throw things and he picks up a rock and throws it. Then some other poor kid gets hit in the head and needs stitches. Some rules are important. Even if it was a pinecone if it hit a child in the eye it could blind them. When you are on the playground you might know that your kids know the rules or how to play safely but their actions are influencing a lot of other kids who might not have the same common sense or impulse control. It’s one reason that when my son plays on the playground with younger kids he has different rules than when it’s just older kids.

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        • Carrie says

          My job is not to set rules for my kid, because it might influence someone else’s kid to go too far. When my daughter was two, her very favorite game was to leap off the top of the ladder and have me catch her. The platform was a few inches over the top of my head, so high enough she could have gotten hurt if I wasn’t there, but that was the rule, you can jump for awhile and I’ll catch you, but when I’m done, the game is over and you aren’t allowed to jump anymore. The horror on the faces of the first time moms always cracked me, they would turn toward her, arms out stretched, ,Ike they could “save” her from halfway across the playground. I had a mom tell me that she thought it was irresponsible dangerous and I told her not to let her kid play it then and turned back catch my “flying baby”, which is what she called the game.

          When my son was 7, he was on a rock climbing team. He climbed everything, all the time, including trees and the outside of play equipment. He had several encounters with parents telling him to get down (which he ignored) and I had more than a few tell me that I shouldnt let him because littler kids might see it and think they could get up there and then get hurt. I suggested they set the rules they were comfortable with and parent their own children, but to leave mine alone.

          I also never stopped my kids from climbing up the slide. If someone was coming down ass they were up, and then got wiped out, that was their problem. It took all of one time, getting the stuffing knocked out of them to figure out that you need to pay attention before you climb.

          I have no patience for people who think they have any kind of control of a public space.

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    • Denise says

      I’m making a short list of stuff I’ve seen- a kid run over by a school bus ending up with a brain injury, 10 year old kid falling down the school stairs and ending up in a wheelchair, student being molested by a teacher and having PTSD.

      I have seen kids injured in car wrecks, but I still drive my kids. I know kids who lost their vision/hearing due to accidents and injuries- on their way to doctor’s offices for treatment for other things. Football injuries, soccer injuries, cheerleading injuries, dance issues (TBI, Spinal Cord, joint/muscle issues. All life time issues.)

      Yet, I will pick my daughters up from school to take to the doctor’s tomorrow, and yes, I will drive them. Afterwards, one goes to cheerleading, the other to soccer. Because I know how rare it is- and I care enough to educate myself.

      I have seen mothers so consumed by anxiety of being a parent that they refuse to allow their children to live. I tend to allow space to make mistakes, to socialize and learn independence not because I’m lazy, but because I want my children to be functioning adults who don’t do drugs, don’t run crazy, and are used to making decisions- because if the worst happens, they need to have the tools that independent play give them.

      So glare at me all you want. I am not lazy, I’m parenting. Interfer at your own risk

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    • Aimee says

      When my son broke his wrist jumping out of a tree, it 1. Taught a valuable life lesson (one shouldn’t jump out of trees from that high up) 2. Breaking a bone hurts a LOT 3. Breaking a bone also gets you a cast that your friends and family sign, and makes for a really funny story later on, but 4. Being in a cast in the summer is a real drag when you can’t go in the pool/lake/other water when all your friends and family are. My dad says “you need to eat a peck of dirt before you die” (from falling down and getting your mouth full of dirt and sand). Life is full of scrapes and booboos. Yes, there are a handful of terrible things that happen to a statistically tiny minority, but really, that’s the rarity. It’s mostly booboos (or broken bones, which heal). My mother did NOT play “with” us…. we kids played with each other. And she’s a fantastic mom – and she “bonded” with us in other ways (not the least of which was personally modeling the value of hard work AND service to the community, rather than allowing us to grow up believing that adults have a lot of time to be on the seesaw…. my mother is the LEAST lazy person I have ever met in my LIFE). Not every mom enjoys playing with their kids. I think that’s totally ok. Parents have only become their children’s Entertainment Center in the last generation or so. Before that, kids figured it out on their own (and were better for it).

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      • Lucy Mauterer says

        I never thought about it before but my mother never “played” with me either. The only time I remember her doing something fun with me was at a birthday party at the skating rink. She put on boot roller skates and skated with me. I was shocked and delighted to find out that my mother could roller skate. She was 41 years older than me so when I was 10, she was 51. Pretty cool to see what I considered an ” old lady” skating as good as a kid. But mostly, we played by ourselves. And we didn’t get hurt badly too often.

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    • Michelle says

      Wow!! It is so hard to read this negative comment. I don’t really know what you are so angry about maybe because spelling and grammar are too hard to understand. Spell check is amazing. 3rd grade grammar is even more amazing. Lazy and pathetic take on a whole new meaning. Maybe you should read a book at the park, it may help, it may calm you. Teaching independence to children keeps grown adults out of their mommy’s basement but by all means while you are typing nasty notes online, your child is probably trying to figure out how the hell he can get away from you. Yep, I’m being riduclous (did that on purpose) because your rant is ridiculous. What kind of playground do you frequent? Do you live inside the walls of Attica Prison? You are very lucky that someone hasn’t put you in your place yet but I’m sure your stank eye makes the remoters laugh. Don’t touch children that are not yours. Period.

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  9. Sharon says

    Yes! Thank you!

    Of course I have to admit that I have had and do have hover days I’m much more of a sit on the side kinda mom. Why can’t we let our kids be kids anymore? How will they know that they can do things on their own if we never let them *gasp* do things on their own? So what if they scrape their knees or get dirty? That’s what being a kid is about because then they get to learn that they will heal or it IS in fact possible to get clean.

    There is so very much more learned on the playground that you can never teach at home or while hovering that I feel you do a dis-service to your child if you don’t let them run off and learn those things. How else are you going to allow them to learn how to make friends, set their own boundaries, test their limits, learn their personal limitations and safely overcome them, learn how to police themselves and so very very much more?

    If your kid isn’t allowed to run NOW what happens when it’s time for them to go off into the real world on their own? That’s not really a chance I’m willing to take. Sure make sure that you’re a safe place for them to land when they’re sad or hurt. But I say give them a little freedom now so that by the time they’re really free they know how to manage that freedom.

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  10. Julie Hecht says

    **Coming from a former Nanny**

    I have seen the judgmental looks and the general mother helicoptering. Obviously there are some parks that cater to the smaller tots and some that are more expansive and build for the older kids. I traveled all around Chicago to a bunch of different parks to give the kiddos some variety.

    I subscribe to the “they will figure it out” camp of nannying. I spent most of the day being overly invested in their activities and on a stricter schedule (per the parents requests) and to me, the park is the one time where I get to enjoy some nice weather and a break from being coped up inside. I never really talked with the other nannys or moms for a host of reasons. I generally didn’t mind when another mom “helped” or kept a general eye on the playground, but what I didn’t like was when they made comments. They were never in real danger so the comments were never necessary. Here are the most notable exchanges:

    Her “Excuse me, he can’t get his wheel barrel around that corner”.
    Me “Is he hurting someone or going to hurt himself?”
    Her “No”.
    Me “The he will figure it out”

    “UM um HE IS IN THAT TREE OVER THERE.. not on the play set!”
    “Yes I am aware. He asked. I gave permission as we are outside and the tree is small. (climbing trees is natures playground and gives kids the ability to get creative and not have a prescriptive step.)”

    I understand the need to pay closer attention to the smaller kids, esp. when they have siblings that they are trying to keep up with. Letting kids problem solve and test limits is a huge part of the playground experience and I would love for all parents to remember that. If he can get the wheel barrel around the corner then he can tackle the next bigger challenge in his little life. : )

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    • Emma says

      Yes, but you are coming from a nanny perspective. Obviously you want to be more free range so you can check out your phone as much as possible. I’ve seen it where I live. All the nannies trying to be all chic with their “you got this” attitude toward the kids, just hoping to catch a few mins to scroll through social media accounts. Nanny-ing is not the same as a mothering and therefore a different level of investment in the well being of the child.

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      • says

        Yes, nannying is different than parenting, but wow! You have no idea what kind of a nanny SHE actually is. You also have no idea if that is actually what the parents asked her to do.

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        • Sue says

          So I’m a former Nanny, 25+ years, and now a Mother of no fear twin girls. Of course Nannying is different! But that doesn’t mean that a good Nanny will not love your child and provide the best care for them. And there are never mothers checking their phones while their children run round screaming is there?
          I am standing under my child (and yours if need be) because mine have absolutely no fear. They want to be doing what the big kids do and I let them, but after them falling too many times and knowing what they’re like, I WILL stand under them. My kids play in the mud they get REALLY dirty they have fun, but I will watch them when they’re climbing because I want to. I’d say I was sorry you thought you had to get up off your bench, but I’m really not.

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      • Diana says

        I’m coming from a mom perspective, and I totally agree with her. Learning to figure stuff out on his own and testing his own limits are two things I can’t actually teach him, he has to learn for himself. Those early lessons will help give him the confidence to persevere later in life when he runs into harder lessons (like reading, math, driving, getting a job, etc)

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        • Mamacita says

          @ Chris

          Because our children are not baby chicks. Each species parents differently.

          Baby kangaroos are kept in their mother’s pouch until they are ready to explore on their own. Baby birds get pushed out of the nest if they’re weak and didn’t learn to fly. Mice eat their young if they are disabled or have too large of a litter. Good thing that we don’t take cues from nature, otherwise our children would be eaten, or pushed out of a window, or stuffed back inside our vaginas until they are ready to explore.

          It all comes down to culture. Perhaps you could study anthropology, and learn about all the different methods worldwide when it comes to child rearing.

          To each his own. We’re not animals, we are humans. My children are not baby chicks, so that is why I will not let them climb on things too high for them without being there to catch them, or why I helped my 15 month old up the slide stairs until he was physically able to navigate it alone (that only took a few weeks and a few falls off the slide even though I was right there). I’m not taking any experiences away from him.

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      • Isolde says

        Holy cow, lady! That is completely uncalled for! I can tell you, sometimes those Nannies love the kids more than the absent parents! The world has all kinds and you don’t know her, or what kind of person she is. Judging by her comment, she’s a great person and a fantastic care giver, so I’m not sure where you get off with your comment.

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      • em says

        First of all, I find nothing wrong with an adult playing with their child at the park. I think it’s great for children to bond with their parents. I also think kids do need to be able to socialize and play with other kids and find nothing wrong with a parent being in the background too. I’ve done both as a teacher and a nanny. I also don’T think it’s my business to attend to other children when their adult is present, unless I’m their teacher. Parental supervision should be done within age appropriate choices. I wouldn’t be laced about a one year old playing on a very big playground, but kids slightly older, go for it.

        I will say, I’ve noticed helicopter parents mean well, but don’t always give their children an opportunity to try things and fail on their own. The kids gotta learn to make friends at some point, or take care of his or her self at some point. In my experience, the children that have helicopter moms tend to be less independent, more entitled, and unable to solve problems on their own. In fact, my three challenging kiddos all,have parents that refuse to let their kids try something new when it was age appropriate for them to do so. I urge you if you’re one of those parents, give your kids an opportunity to try age appropriate things on their own and be proud you taught them how to function without you…a sign of a good parent!

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