Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What kind of "park parent" are you?

We all know that people like to give their two cents (whether asked for or not) on things that may not be any of their business. For example, when I was pregnant I got one particular comment from someone about the shape of my belly. I have found that that was just the beginning. Everyone seems to like voicing their opinions on very personal matters like epidural or not (I didn't get one- but I don't blame others who do), nursing or not and for how long (I pushed through the hard times and was able to nurse for over a year- but again, it's none of my business if others do that or not), how to feed the baby, how to clothe the baby, how to put the baby on a sleeping schedule (although, thanks to my SIL Jocelyn we were able to get Em on a schedule and in her own bed), whether to give them medicine or not, and the list goes on!!

As a first time mom it is hard enough to feel unsure of a lot of things but then when you have people left and right telling you how to do things, it can get even more stressful. If I ask for help, that's one thing. But telling me how to raise MY child? Oh, heck no!

Do they think I wouldn't do what I feel is best? What makes them think they have any right to tell me I am doing things wrong?

This came up the other day when I posted on facebook this blog post about what jeans are flattering and what jeans aren't. I like to look nice and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. But I got a comment from someone that said something along the lines of "I don't care. I would rather spend X amount of money on a cheap pair of jeans and feed and clothe my children". Was she trying to call me selfish for wanting a good pair of jeans? Does she think that if I buy one thing that I wouldn't be able to feed and clothe Emily? And does she think that I would buy those jeans if it did mean I couldn't feed and clothe her? That's just one example.

A friend of mine posted this article on her facebook about taking your kids to the park and letting them play and learn on their own, even if that means they can't climb something or get hurt in the process. It says that hovering over and helping your children be safe and do things they feel they can't do on their own is, pretty much, hindering them in the long run.

I asked around to hear some of my friends thoughts on that article.

"I think it is great for them to learn on their own. As long as I am comfortable that Finn is safe."- Andrew

"Moms that sit 15 feet away from their kids at the park are lazy and I usually end up disciplining their children."- Meagan

My thoughts? At this point, Emily is still too young for me to go sit down and watch her play. She puts things in her mouth and wouldn't be able to do much besides that if I wasn't there to help her up the stairs and down the slide. Will I always do that? No. Once she is old enough and capable of playing on her own, I will let her. But I will always be watching her closely and help talk her through or show her how to do things if she needs my help.

Another thing I would like to point out is that I think some parents ARE lazy at the park. Not all of the parents who are sitting far away are letting their children learn. They are lazy. I had to tell kids at the park to not go down the slide at the same time as Emily because they would slide right on top of her. I had to tell a kid to not hit his sister. A girl wanted to get on a swing next to Emily but was too little to get up on her own so I had her go get whoever she came with. See my point? These kids may be old enough to play on their own but it doesn't mean they shouldn't be supervised.

What do you think? Are you a "helicopter", a "sit down and let them play", or an "in between" parent?


Venassa said...

I think I'd be more an in between. I will never be the type to sit back and ignore my kid. I'd find it embarrassing if someone else had to discipline my child at the park.

Jennifer said...

Even though I would like to be an in between, I have a feeling I will hover like crazy. I do it already when someone is holding her. It's bad, lol.

Unknown said...

I'm mostly in the middle, though I never just sit down. Charlie stil needs to be watched like a hawk, but since Emmy is 4 now, I can give her a little more freedom

Mellissa "Shia" Rondinelli said...

Great post - I don't have children of my own but Saturday I was at the park with my niece. I'm the kind of auntie that is along by their side. I have three nieces, 6, 3 and 2 and I'm right there with each of them. I've had the same issues with unsupervised children ... I even had one girl wanting to hold my hand but I was like ummm ... I think she saw me playing with my niece and thought I want to play too. I think park time for some parents can be thought of as a breather (I mean I'm just an auntie I'm not dealing with day to day stuff and I know that can be rough...I had my niece overnight and I had to spend the next day resting...LOL) but there is something great about getting out there and getting dirty with them. It makes it more fun and memorable. Also, I would just be so scared that the second I wasn't looking something bad would happen ... yikes! I tell my nieces all the time ... stay with me cuz if I lose you your mommy will be mad at me FOREVER!

World According to Shia

Sheri Money said...

No, I don't have kids. But, having been a nanny to 6 diff. kids I do have an opinion. First off, I couldn't care less what other people do. Second, it depends on the age. Like, if my kid is younger than 2, I'll probably hover (although, the age rule is kid specific). But, I do think it's good for kids to be given the encouragement to do things on their own. One of the kids I nannied for had a mom who was an extreme hoverer and it showed. She was afraid of EVERYTHING. But, hovering is not an excuse for not watching your kid. You should still be watching them constantly, you just aren't right next to them. I, too, experienced the negligence of lazy mommies. In fact, there was one kid who literally POOPED on the playground without his mom noticing! As in, got his pants off, squatted and defecated. That's when you know it's not a hands-off mom, it's a lazy mom.

Meagan said...

I know I already kind of said my opinion ;). I should say too that I really don't hover when I know he is safe. In our pretty much child proof home for example. I also know my child and know he is well behaved. I respect other parents that do the same. That stay with their kids if they have biting or hitting issues. We have parks that are built for kids ages 2-5 and there are still places he could fall so I try to stay with him. Just yesterday we met some friends at a park and Chase was happy as a clam playing in the sand so I didn't hover. I think some older kids were annoyed he was dumping sand in their holes but I didn't say anything until the older kid said something about this child's mom. Just because a child is 4 and might not need safety supervision doesn't mean you can be far away and not paying attention. I hover with Chase if there are toys involved because I want him to learn grabbing is not ok. I recently had to ask a 4 year old to stop grabbing things from Chase. I think she was either never taught not to grab or thought since he's younger it is ok. But I will discipline another child if it happens more than once and a parent is no where to be seen. Grabbing toys or hitting aren't ok.

Emily said...

Since I posted this article on my facebook, obviously I agree with it! A few things: First, I think it's way, WAY different with your first and especially when they are young. I totally hovered with Josie cause I had nothing else to do. As a result, she didn't think she could do anything without my help. It took a while to build that confidence back up. Sometimes I had to refuse her requests for help so she would do things on her own. Totally worth the tears as she is a confident, independent 4 year old now. With Donny, I never helped him at the park. Like ever. He just tried things and usually succeeded and I just let him. I was close enough to be vigilant, but honestly, I would have totally underestimated his abilities if I had been controlling his play. I think it's easy to underestimate your kids abilities if you never let them try on their own first. He was climbing stairs and going down slides before he could walk. Parks are built for young kids and if a child is injured, it's usually not going to be life threatening or anything. In fact, I read that more kids are injured going down the slide on their parents lap than any other way at the park. Kind of ironic. Anyway, I'm not going to lie. I'm totally lazy at the park. The park is a break for me. I'm a lazy mom, but not negligent. The park is made for my 2-5 year olds. The bench is for me. I make sure I can see them and see what they are doing, but beyond that, I leave them alone as much as possible. My kids have never had an issue with hitting or anything, and are good at coming to me if they have a problem. At least for my kids, the lazy approach has been good! It's a great thing when your child accomplishes something difficult at the park and you get to see them burst with pride. This is all an individual issue though, and obviously dependent on age. Yes, sometimes you miss something as a parent. I am much more understanding of that now. With one child, you only have to focus on them. I have 3 under 5. Sometimes I am focusing on one child or nursing or changing a diaper and I can't help or focus on my other ones. You just do your best. Fortunately, I've never had a parent tell me my kid bullied theirs or anything. Just saying, when you have several young kids, the park is a small break and you totally take advantage of that. Try not to judge too harshly.

Emily said...

Just to clarify- Lazy mom doesn't mean I don't watch my kids and know where they are and what they're doing. Mentally, I'm all there. Physically, I'm just on a bench : )

Jenn said...

What a great subject! I am an in between parent. I think it just depends too how many kids are on the playground as well. If there aren't too many I just sit and watch b/c they have less of a chance getting hurt or hurting someone. If its crowded then I usually am following them everywhere...plus now days people are crazy and I don't trust anyone around so its always good to be close by.

Tiffany @ Life of a Thirty Something said...

I will admit that I am a helicopter mom in most situations, but can be a in between at times too. I have always been in the situations of other parents not paying attention to their kids and most times I could care less, I know I am doing my part. I was much worse of a helicopter when she was your little ones' age. She is 4, going on 5 now.

Shellsea said...

That sounds like a pretty snarky comment you received on FB. Was it your personal page or blog page. It's sad to think a blogger would be that rude or a friend for that matter.

At the park..I agree depends on how many kids are there and what age range the park is intended for. I have a pretty independent and big 2 year old so I can sit on the bench especially now that I'm prego. But, usually I stay close just to monitor not hover. I also think how you are with your own kids is much different than nanny/niece/nephew etc.

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