I'm Not a Helicopter Parent Because I Don't Have The Time To Be

by Mary McClelland
Originally Published: 

“Free-Range Parenting” is apparently a thing we parents must strive for now, as we have helicoptered our children into dysfunction and we’re tired of hovering over them as adults while they flounder to manage basic tasks, such as Kraft Mac & Cheese assembling.

Me? I’m too damn distracted to helicopter parent.

I free-range parent by default, as a by-product of disorganization. And I love being ahead of the curve – vindication will be mine when my kid discovers a cure for cancer using the bathtub and my makeup collection as a science lab. If my kids are entertained, and it’s not by me, I’m happy.

I don’t dislike my kids – in fact, because I love them, I understand that people need their space to think and breathe and plot. But I’m not the kind of mom who “plays.” I’m the kind of mom who observes playing, from a distance, as she drinks coffee and makes endless to-do lists she never does. But it’s the thought that counts, right? To my line of thinking, I’ve done enough by bringing them into this world and the basic service of providing them food – organic food, CHEDDAR BUNNIES, people.

So this free-range parenting? We’re supposed to schedule time to not supervise our children now. [Pause for long, loud laughter.]

We’re supposed to schedule screen-free time so our children can use their imaginations, alone in the untamed wild of suburban backyards in pricey neighborhoods, while we stand at the window fretting they may scrape their knees even though they’re wearing three layers of knee pads, an industrial-sized bike helmet, and a bubble. This is supposed to protect us (and them) from feeling like failures when Harvard doesn’t reward them with a scholarship just for showing up:

“It is I, [My Name Is: Special Snowflake] prodigal child, of them, and YES, I did fail geometry three times because my mom forgot how to work the graphing calculator, but still – I mean clearly you see that I deserve to, like, be here because, like, I want to…”

See, I have the opposite problem – I have to schedule time to supervise my children. Ugh, that’s taxing.

I work full-time, from home; my husband owns a business; I have very demanding hobbies like online shopping, library book devouring, and covert candy snacking while hiding in the pantry.

So, if my kids want to run around screaming bloody murder while beating each other with bubble wands as I leisurely sit in a lawn chair, drinking coffee, sunning myself, and reading any manner of book – or Elle Décor, you know, for variety’s sake! – then fucking call CPS on me. I’ll just tell them I’m free-ranging and science condones it. And hell, if they want to take my kids, that’d be great, because I’ve been looking for a decent babysitter.

But my kids only eat organic snack foods.

Related post: Helicopter Moms, You’re Ruining It for Everyone Else

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