I've heard the phrase many times now, mostly hurled at Mums as an insult, and I think it's vastly unfair. A 'helicopter parent' who hovers over their child to make sure they are ok. Err... Isn't that what we're supposed to do? Fair play to you if you have the confidence in your kid to navigate everything themselves, but if it's ok with you I think I'm just gonna stay right here.
I take no shame in being concerned for my child's welfare and I will not apologise for being right on hand to ensure they stay safe. I will freely admit I see trip hazards, finger squishers, teeth smashers, head bangers and all other assortments of accidents where there possibly are none, but I see that as my job. To anticipate danger and circumvent it. I may be slightly overzealous in my role but that's just me.
I wouldn't go as far as to say I wrap my children in cotton wool, they have their fair share of bumps and bruises (they are boys after all and enthusiastically embrace any and all things they shouldn't be doing) but I would like to think I'm able to avoid the worst of the accidents (you know, the body altering ones), with my 'helicoptering'. I also don't let them splash in puddles when they don't have wellies on... So sue me! I don't want a half hour slog back to the car with two whinging soggy children.
And if I'm honest, the 'helicoptering' is not just for their sakes, it's for the other kids too. My boys can be rather boisterous and I do not condone pushing/shoving or bad manners so until they are old enough (and well trained enough) to behave, you're damn well right I'm going to 'helicopter'.
Other kids can climb up the slides/ take over the bridges/ park themselves in tunnels and that's up to them. If their parents want to raise them in such a free manner I have no problem with it. My kids are going to grow up and meet all sorts of different people with different views and different ways of doing things so the sooner they learn to deal with it the better. They are also going to meet people with different moral compasses, who believe in different things and don't play by the same set of rules, they have to learn to deal with that too. They have to learn that just because people are different it doesn't mean they are wrong. So I will set my rules for my children and for me those rules include no climbing up the slide, no monopolising the bridge and sharing the equipment.
They also include, if you're in it first you get to play and you're allowed to stand your ground but you must respect the space of others and not everyone plays in the same way. I don't judge other parents out there for their set of rules, nor by how they enforce them so if I wish to stay close at hand to help and guide my child then please do not judge me either. You may say I am hindering their progress or not allowing them to solve disputes for themselves but they will have years and years to perfect these skills when I am not around so I will help them while I can.
At the end of the day, all we want it what's best for our kids and we all have different methods of teaching them how to navigate this world. Some prefer a more hands off approach, others would rather stay close. Neither is wrong, each has its pros and cons and we do what works for us. Can we not just accept that and stop the name calling? What, are we still in the playground or something?