Helicopter. Hoverer. Shadow. Overprotective. These are typically the big bads of parenting. You couldn’t love your littles anymore than you already do, and you want only the best for them. That’s why you’re kind of cautious when it comes to just about everything your kiddo does. But before you buy into the idea that all overprotective mothers are ruining their children’s lives, check out how you might actually be helping them.
1. It’s your style. Forget about the mommy-shamers and internet trolls
They’re everywhere and have one mission only — to put everyone who doesn’t share their beliefs and values down. Some parents lean more toward hovering than others. If that’s your style, embrace it. As long as your actions are only in your kiddo’s best interest, there’s no reason to feel like you’re wrong for being a cautious parent.
2. You’re tempering your child’s inner Evel Knievel
Overprotective parents are famous for shutting down risk-taking behaviors. While the constant, “Honey, I don’t think that’s safe” comments may make a child overly anxious, some kids need a modest degree of tempering. In other words — riding a bike with the neighborhood kids (while wearing a helmet of course) is a-okay, but swan diving from the top of the climber into a thinly spread puddle of mulch is not.
3. You’re showing your love
When caution comes with a side of, “Because I love you so much” and not a heavy helping of, “Because I don’t want you to,” it’s not always a bad thing. As long as the caution is caring and not stifling, you’re not being the much-judged version of a helicopter parent.
4. Caution can be age-appropriate
Not allowing your 14-year-old to walk down the street with their friends and spend the afternoon playing a pick-up game of baseball without you hovering nearby isn’t age-appropriate. But not allowing your four-year-old to do the same is completely okay. Measure your overprotective nature next to what is acceptable for your child’s age and developmental level. At some ages, caution is absolutely a do.
5. Childhood only happens once
You might not want your preschooler going down the slide backward — it may seem overprotective, but it may also save them from spending the rest of the summer with a broken bone. A pinch of protectiveness while encouraging fun can make childhood memories for all the right reasons.
6. Being protective doesn’t always equal “helicopter”
You might caution your kiddo against swimming in the deep end of the pool or forbid going up the slide (instead of sliding down), but that doesn’t exactly put you in the dreaded helicopter category. There is a distinction between being protective and being overprotective, and being protective can still allow room for your child to make and learn from their other mistakes.
7. Your child has your attention
Your kiddo is probably keenly aware that you’re watching them. Even though there will come a time when that watchful eye will do little more than annoy your child, right now (when your littles are actually little), the attention is very much welcomed.
8. You’re creating a sense of connection
While there is something to be said for independence, a healthy sense of dependence can breed a sense of community that supports your growing child. You want your child to grow up knowing that they’re an independent and (someday) self-sufficient individual. But you also want your child to know that they don’t have to go it alone. When you caution your child against potentially risky activities or offer to help them out, you’re teaching them about empathy and prosocial behaviors. And that’s never a bad thing.