Helicopter Parent or Meerkat…Which Are You?

I’ve been a parent for a decade now and the minute that I think I have it all figured out, here comes a new phase…a new challenge if you will.

My kids are 6 and 10 and they are entirely different kids. I’ve always been amazed at how that happens. Same parents, but two different kids… fascinating.

Over the years, I have done my fair share of reading on the topic of parenting. I’m a serial researcher for goodness sake. I could open a bookstore with all of the books I have collected over the years. However to no avail… I have not been able to gain expertise on the subject. Truth is, there’s no manual. It’s all trial and error with each kid.

The one thing, however, that I have been able to tackle is my parenting style. That has remained the same through every season and both kids. There are essentially two parenting styles in my opinion… Helicopter or Meerkat. Of course there are variations in each, but basically, those about sum it up.

I’ve had helicopter mom moments when I was attempting to figure the whole thing out, but eventually settled into being a Meerkat mom.

So what’s the difference you may ask? If you are a helicopter parent you tend to hover over your kids. The thought of them making the wrong choice or messing up makes you more anxious than you’d care to admit. So in order to prevent that, you hover over them influencing every choice practically making the choices for them. Friend, that’s no good for anyone… not you or them.

I prefer the Meerkat approach… watching from the distance. Far enough away for my kids to feel and become independent and responsible, but close enough for the just in case moments and trust me they will happen.

Kids need to make their own choices at times as long as it isn’t detrimental or disrespectful. A lot of parents get frustrated because their kids aren’t mature enough, but as parents, we have a responsibility to nurture that environment for growth and maturity. You’ll never grow or learn from your mistakes if you don’t mess up sometimes. So yes, as painful as it is for us to watch our kids mess up, it’s necessary.

The Skinny

Understand, I’m not saying to let your kids do something to mess up their lives permanently, but I’m suggesting starting out by letting them make small decisions so that when bigger decisions come they are set to succeed. How to wear their hair for instance or whether or not to cut or color their hair. After all, it’s just hair. We really don’t have to like it. It’s only important they like it.

Moment of Truth

My husband and I recently went through this experience with our 10-year-old. He’s in 5th grade and band is a part of his musical curriculum. He’s never had to play any instruments before so as you can imagine the choice of what to play was quite the experience. He started out by saying he was going to play the gong because that’s where he could do the least work and practice. I never said a word nor did I pick for him. I remained true to my Meerkat ways, never even gave an opinion. He chose the trumpet on his own and loves it. He’s quite good as well and is more invested because he chose it not me. ❤️

Stay tuned for pt. 2 next week on how this parenting style can help kids resolve conflict in a healthy way.

Achea Redd

Achea Redd

about the author

Achea Redd is a mental health advocate, author of “Be Free Be You” and founder of Real Girls F.A.R.T. — a space to empower and equip women with the necessary tools to use their voices and become their best, most authentic selves.

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