Despite being a seemingly modern concept, the term “helicopter parent” dates all the way back to 1969.
In “Between Parent and Teenager” author and psychologist Haim G. Ginott quotes an over-parented teen patient as saying, “Mother hovers over me like a helicopter and I’m fed up with her noise and hot air.… I’m entitled to sneeze without explanation.”
And here I thought mom bloggers made it up.
Since then we’ve seen the dawn of the self-described “Tiger Mom” who rules with an iron fist, pushes hard, and over-schedules with the intention of raising academically competitive offspring. Then there’s the “Snowplow Parent”, who allegedly clears their child’s path of obstacles, preventing them from experiencing challenge and hardship at any cost.
It seems parents are desperate to define the different ways we approach the role. Let’s throw a few more options on table.
A goalie parent is a pro at keeping their head in the game while reserving action for the moments it’s truly necessary. They know there’s no reason to be involved in every play, and that eventually the ball/puck/need/complaint will head their way. These parents are always on their toes, but keenly aware of boundaries.
Children of goalies are agile and surefooted, yet confident that when things are out of their control or too slippery to manage, mom and/or dad are willing to swoop in hard. (These kids also have deft smack talk skills.)
Hot air balloon parent
With a few precious resources, hot air balloon parents pile it all in one basket and take to the skies. They know there’s only so much they can fully control, yet head fearlessly into uncharted territory. They’re adventurous and willing to go with the flow. Despite outwardly appearing jovial and confident, they take the job seriously. Additionally, their children may develop a penchant for fire.
The Al Roker parent
(Not to be confused with Al Roker’s parents, whom I’m sure are lovely people.)
For better or for worse, these parents are completely oblivious to the fact that a storm is raging all around them. You’ve seen them at coffee shops sipping lattes and chit-chatting away while their sticky tornadoes nearly trip every third patron and dive under tables knocking over everything in their path.
They calmly prepare dinner while a house full of kids dump a jar full of marbles down the stairs and stage WWE matches on a pile of couch cushions. They’re barely rattled until they get taken out at the knees and start bleeding from the head. While this type can occasionally appear irresponsible, their one-track mind and ability to focus on the task at hand is enviable. (This is a video of Al Roker falling.)
The roadkill parent
You want to feel bad for these guys, but it’s sort of difficult to muster the sympathy. They’re the ones who walked out into traffic and didn’t even look first. They allow their kids to run roughshod over every weakly-defined rule they attempt to establish. Despite starting out with high aspirations and plenty of motivation to do the job well, it all seems to have fallen apart. Children of roadkill are often rude, demanding, and unlikely to be invited on playdates.
What type of parent are you?