Do Latchkey Kids Become Helicopter Moms?

 

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The park where my kids grew up playing outdoors.

 

I find the headlines of parenting articles to be pretty funny these days. I’ve heard about helicopter parents who hover endlessly over their kids and interfere at the workplace and summer camp. But, I’ve never heard about lawnmower parents before. Have you?

When I was growing up, a lot of kids went home after school to empty houses. More women were working, plus there were a lot more single-parent homes than in previous decades. There was a popular phrase back then called “latch-key kids.”

Here’s a memory about how different parenting was back when I was a kid compared to today. When I was in high school, I took a road trip with one of my best friends from our hometown Snohomish to Sun Valley, Idaho. My friend’s parents asked us to drive their pickup truck while they flew–a 675-mile trip! We slept in the back of the pickup truck in sleeping bags somewhere in Oregon. Then once we got to Sun Valley, we had planned to pitch a tent in a local campground, because we weren’t invited to stay in the Sun Valley lodge with my friend’s parents. For some reason, we chose to sleep in the parking lot in the back of the truck instead. I remember one night the parents were out late in the pick-up truck and we were sitting on the curb in the parking lot, waiting for them to return and to crawl into our sleeping bags. We were on our own for meals and everything. Wow. Talk about NOT being a helicopter parent!

In “Finding a balance between latch-key and helicopter parenting,” I found some interesting ideas:

“Latch-key kids surged from the 1970s to the early 1990s due to economic changes requiring two incomes to get by, and societal changes where an increased divorce rate created single-parent homes.

‘Now the generation of latch-key kids are parents themselves. Many generation X’ers over-compensate for their latch-key upbringing by being a helicopter parent,’ Janice Emery, 4-H youth development specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, said.

A helicopter parent is a parent who pays extremely close attention to their child’s experiences and problems. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead.

As parents, it is important to find the middle ground between these parenting styles and balance protecting children, and making sure they grow into responsible adults,” Emery said. “Parents have to keep in mind parenting success is not measured by how much a parent does for their child, but rather how much they teach them to do on their own.”

The second article I read today explains the difference between helicopter and lawnmower parents. In my humble opinion, I don’t see that much difference between the two of them. Both won’t allow their kids to fail and learn from their mistakes. I do agree we need to do less for our kids so they can grow up to be competent, well-balanced adults.

Helicopter of Lawnmower? Modern Parenting Styles Can Get in the Way of Raising Well-Balanced Children

“Helicopter parents, as the name suggests, spend a lot of time hovering. They always stay close to their children, ready to swoop in and direct, help or protect (usually before it is needed). Lawnmower parents are one step ahead of their children, smoothing their path and making sure nothing gets in their way. Common tactics of both include interfering significantly with their grown-up children’s lives, such as complaining to employers when their children don’t get a job.

As with anything, there is a middle ground. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that providing children with opportunities and support helps them to gain experiences, confidence and networks that they wouldn’t be offered in more adverse settings. But there is an important line between supporting children and wrapping them in gold-plated cotton wool.

Allowing children freedom to take appropriate risks through outdoor play is essential for their development. Risky play does not mean placing children in grave danger, but instead allowing them to be children – climbing, jumping from heights and hanging upside down are good examples. Risky play allows children to test limits and solve problems. And, yes, this includes learning what happens when they overstretch themselves and fall.”

 

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A view from my home town where I was a latch-key kid.

When I was growing up, we could ride bikes throughout the countryside. We told our parents where we were going—it could be to a friend’s house who lived five miles away—and our parents never worried. Even our golden retriever Pepi lived a free-range life.

For some of my childhood, I was a latch-key kid and the scary thing about it was going home to an empty house. If my brother, who was two years older, had golf or tennis practice, then I was riding the school bus alone and being dropped off at a bus stop, a quarter mile from my house. It was lonely and quiet, but I survived. The bad days were when Thelma, our bus driver, dropped me off at my doorstep and announced that a prisoner had escaped from the Monroe Penitentiary, which was a couple miles away. She’d wait until I was safely inside my empty house. Those were the worst days as a latch-key kid.

I wonder if spending some years as a latch-key kid influenced my involvement with my children every step of their way to becoming adults?

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The pool and swim team that allowed my kids space in a safe environment without me helicoptering–too much.

Did you grow up as a latch-key kid and do you think it affects how you parent? Or do you think we’re living in different times and we cannot allow our kids the same amount of freedom we had?

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When parents are outraged over rain

b24f893efc1d9a60a00927af88b8d070--rubber-rain-boots-vintage-bootsI saw a story that I found interesting about parents being outraged because their kids were forced to play outside in the rain at school. I remember playing outside in the rain a lot growing up in a small town in Washington. Rain was part of our daily life. I now live where the sun shines on a daily basis and we look forward to rain like it’s a special treat.

In “Parents’ fury as primary school toughens up pupils with play in the rain” Camilla Turner, education editor for The Telegraph, a UK publication, says this:

“A school’s attempt to toughen up the ‘snowflake’ generation by forcing them to play outside in the rain has met with a backlash from furious parents.

“The head of Piper’s Vale Primary Academy in Ipswich has insisted that playing in the rain is a ‘normal’ part of children’s development but parents said they are ‘disgusted’ by the new policy.

“Ben Carter, the school’s executive principal, apologised to parents for not communicating the change in policy to them but urged them to send their children to school with “suitable footwear and a winter coat or jacket.”

“He defended the ‘wet play’ approach, saying: “Compared with previous generations, children today spend a lot of their time looking at screens and staying indoors. Many have relatively sedentary lifestyles.

“Paradigm Trust academies place great value on outdoor play and exercise as part of children’s education and wellbeing. This is why we encourage our pupils to make the most of their time outside during lunch and breaks, even in damp conditions. 

“This type of wet play is part of children’s normal development. However, in adverse conditions, we will, of course, provide options for pupils to play and be supervised indoors.”

I agree with the school that playing outside is healthy and rain won’t hurt children. I also believe there was a lack of communication and if the parents didn’t know about the new policy, their kids might not have had the right shoes or coats and could have gotten drenched.

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I had a yellow rubber raincoat that I hated.

 

When I was growing up, we had these clumsy rubber boots that went over our shoes. Also, ugly yellow rubber coats that I couldn’t stand. I hated to wear those things, but my mom made me. At Emerson Elementary School, we had space to hang up all our wet rain gear and remove our boots. I was jealous of my best friend’s “bubble umbrella” that was clear plastic. Mine was a normal shape and you couldn’t see through it.

There were plenty of days where we were forced to play inside. When I was in first and second grades, we played on a cement floor in a huge room with a tin roof, in a building that was nothing more than a big garage. I loved the sound of rain on the tin roof when we could hear it above the noise of the kids playing. It’s where we lined up after school to leave the school. The games we played were square ball and keep away.

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My best friend had a cool bubble umbrella like this.

Once I reached the third grade, we got to play in the gym/cafeteria where we hot lunch were served on sectioned plastic trays. After we finished our lunches, which we ate in our classrooms, we lined up and walked single file into the gym without saying a peep. Once in the gym, we rolled around on little square scooters, a few inches off the floor or played a rough game of dodgeball. I don’t envy whoever was assigned lunch recess duty on the inside rainy days!

When I was in college at the University of Washington in Seattle, I don’t remember rain ever slowing us down. My best friend and I would ride bikes or run around Green Lake rain or shine. I do remember hating walking across campus when the rain was coming down sideways and my jeans would get soaked.

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A view of the Cascade Mountains from my little town.

 

Do you think schools should make kids play outside in the rain or in bad weather? What do your kids do when it’s raining outside? When you were growing up what memories do you have of playing in the rain?

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood…

images-6I was taking care of my dad who had a shoulder replacement when it happened. We weren’t home from the hospital for one hour when I needed help. Somehow, he ended up sliding onto the floor and he couldn’t get up. I sure couldn’t get him up — and we had to keep his shoulder immobilized.

I didn’t think any of my neighbors would be able to help — except for the crazy guy down the street who brings his dog over to do his business on my lawn. But, after he called my daughter, who was 13 years old at the time, the B word and the C word — I try to avoid him.

images-2Besides the crazy guy who I don’t speak to, I realize I don’t know my neighbors. I recognize them and I wave as I drive by. But, I don’t really know them.

images-3It’s not like we’re new to the neighborhood. We moved into our home in 1992. The two neighbors I knew on a first-name basis — Vera and Betty — well, they died at least five years ago.

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I remember how it was different when I was young. We lived in a small house in a town of 5,000 residents. We knew everyone on the block — actually everyone in the whole town. During the summer, we weaved our way through each yard and kitchen in our neighborhood. We were offered an occasional cookie or popsicle. There was one house we avoided — Mr. Funk’s house. He’s the one with the cat trap in his back yard. I wrote about him in My Son Tried to Give Away the Cat on Facebook.

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Why don’t we associate with our neighbors, anymore? My mom and dad leaned over the fences and talked about their tomatoes with the next door and back door neighbors.

imgres-1We played work-up in the middle of the street after dinner until it got too dark to play.

imgres-4I miss those days.

If you’re wondering what happened to my dad, who had slipped to the floor in my living room, I called my husband who was at the beach with my daughter and her friend — a mere two hours away. He gave me a couple of choices. First, call 911. Second, wait two hours for their return. Or, my daughter piped in — call Karl.  Karl is a friend’s husband. I wrote about this friend in Alpha Moms and the Cupcake Wars. They don’t live in my neighborhood, but close by — and we’ve been friends for 12 years — fellow swim team, Catholic school, high school and NCL parents. Karl came over immediately and saved the day. 

images-4I guess we create our own neighborhoods with our interests and connections.

I have a question for you. Do you know your neighbors? Is this a phenomenon that is particular to my neighborhood that we aren’t very neighborly? Or is it a trend of today?

imagesSome of these photos are from my home town Snohomish, WA. Two are from my current neighborhood, the Old Movie Colony.

My 3 Favorite TV Shows from the 70s

imgres-4The horrific tragedy at UCSB this past week (where my son goes to school) has caused me to think about today’s culture versus mine growing up. Our children have been exposed to more violence than we were — and I’m afraid they are desensitized to it. This is the 911 generation. My son was in third grade when that tragedy occurred. We’ll never forget it. I’ve had discussions this week with friends reflecting on the media differences in the past 40 years. When I was a kid, we watched TV together as a family. We weren’t in our separate rooms with our own electronic devices, watching silently, alone. I’ll write more about this at another time. In the meantime, please read about my favorite sitcoms from my childhood.

Every Labor Day Weekend, Mom drove us “downtown” for back-to-school shopping at Frederick & Nelson’s — a massive department store with everything from Steuben glass to rows and rows of different colored threads and Simplicity patterns — and to shop at the Bon Marche´ and Nordstrom.  It was a 45-minute drive from our little town Snohomish to the big city of Seattle.

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One year, 1970 to be exact, there was a promotion near the Girls’ clothing department to watch the screening of a TV pilot. Mom and I took a break from trying on dresses, and we sat in a dark empty room with a large screen.imgres-2Soon, I was to watching in complete fascination about a family singing in their garage who recorded a top 40 hit! Yes, it was the Partridge Family with heart-throb David Cassidy! My mom liked the show too, because of Shirley Jones, who starred in the musicals Oklahoma and Carousel.imgres-8

Once school started, I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about the cool new show that was going to be on TV in a few weeks! But, everyone already knew about it. David Cassidy was on the cover of magazines my friends read, but my mom didn’t allow —  like Tiger Beat, and 16.images-3

 At my best friend’s house, we practiced singing along to “I Think I Love You” for hours on end. (Click on the title, to hear that phenomenal song!) We turned her fireplace hearth into our mini stage, with toy guitars and a tambourine, and we dressed in white blouses, maroon cords or velvet bell bottoms. We were the Partridge Family! Now that was a TV show. Click to listen to the original happy song —
“C’mon Get Happy!”

Two other shows that we looked forward to and watched religiously were….imgres-6

The Brady Bunch and Mary Tyler Moore Showimages-1

Great TV that fortunately with DVDs and Netflix, we can enjoy today. And yes, my kids have been subjected to all three of these. They like the humor in Mary Tyler Moore best. The writers were great and the jokes are funny four decades later.imgres-5

Besides the story lines, I was so involved with the characters of these three shows. Plus, the fashions were so groovy!images-2

I’d like to hear what TV shows you liked to watch when you were young. What show was your favorite?