While watching a news segment on Helicopter Parents, my daughter turned to me and said "You're not a Helicopter Parent", which was not news to me. She continued "You're more like a Skydive Plane Parent. You push us out and don't look back." She paused and then added "You sometimes give us a parachute."
I am not sure if she meant this as a compliment or a complaint but I took it as the former. Yes, I confess, I make my kids go to school when it's cold. But I don't think making your children go to school on a School Day when it's safe to do so is pushing them out of a plane or otherwise; in fact it is pretty much what we in the work world merely call "meeting expectations."
But maybe I'm harsh. I've also been known to let my son (then eight) start a dog walking business where he had to (gasp) walk the dogs on his own around our quiet neighbourhood. This resulted in calls from concerned parents that he was on his own. (Of course to which my response was "I hope he had a dog with him, or he's fired.")
At age nine I let him ride his bike to school, by himself, crossing a busy intersection. My 11 and 14-year-olds routinely get themselves breakfast, make their lunch and get out to the bus or walk to school when both my husband and I have to leave the house hours before they do. They've been going to public washrooms by themselves since they could figure out the "M" vs "W" signs on the doors.
When my 14-year-old informed me I had to miss going out to a long planned evening event because she needed me to help her study, as she had procrastinated, I answered with "Are you new here?" I had a good time at the event, thanks for asking.
I'm not always that mean. My 19-year-old son had his wallet and phone stolen in New Zealand, and I did help him. I cancelled the phone and his credit card.
Do these actions make me a Skydive Plane Parent? Okay then. I push them; they keep coming back. Replace that umbilical cord with a rip cord. Give them the chance to exceed your expectations.
Are you more Helicopter or Sky Diver?
This article originally ran in The Metro News. Follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth and visit www.kathybuckworth.com