Free-Range Helicopter Tiger Mom

February 20th, 2020

Am I a tiger or a helicopter? Am I honoring or betraying my free-range 70s roots with my parenting style? Do I sign my daughters up for circus and soccer because I’m relentless, or because they genuinely love it and I want them to have a broad range of experiences—and because I need a break here and there? And do I get points back for letting them sled down our enormous hill without helmets? Or is that actually idiotic?

These are the types of questions I ask myself as I read articles like The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting in the New York Times. This one was particularly interesting to me because one of my best girlfriends, who does not have kids, is constantly letting me know she thinks I’m an overbearing mom. I don’t necessarily think I’m an overbearing mom. I let them do this with their father, for instance:

But I’m definitely on the side of giving kids a lot of attention and facetime with their folks while they’re little. Particularly because they have two full-time working parents, I think it’s important we have a lot of quality time together. 

This excerpt from the article specifically struck me:

The time parents spend in the presence of their children has not changed much, but parents today spend more of it doing hands-on child care. Time spent on activities like reading to children; doing crafts; taking them to lessons; attending recitals and games; and helping with homework has increased the most. Today, mothers spend nearly five hours a week on that, compared with 1 hour 45 minutes hours [sic] in 1975 — and they worry it’s not enough. Parents’ leisure time, like exercising or socializing, is much more likely to be spent with their children than it used to be. While fathers have recently increased their time spent with children, mothers still spend significantly more.

Of the “for example” list of ways parents spend time with kids, I do at least 3 of the 5 all the time. And my kids don’t have homework, recitals, or games yet, so that’s just not an option.

But I will say that the last sentence of the paragraph is just not true for my family. Jon actually spends a lot more recreational time with the girls than I do. I may be the one signing them up for arts camp and making dinner and forcing them into submission at the table, but he’s the one playing rowdy games with them after dinner and taking them skiing all day and helping them build forts and elaborate Lego villages. 

And this is how we want to spend our time. When I think of the old paradigm of parents who would kick the kids out the door in the morning and begrudgingly let them back in at dinnertime (my dad’s model, minus there being an actual dinnertime), I feel like those parents missed out. Small children are stressful, exasperating, and certainly take years off your life, but in the end, spending time with them—if they’re yours—is the best it’s ever going to get. 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What (else) I’m reading:

Young Men Embrace Gender Equality, but They Still Don’t Vacuum — for what it’s worth, Jon does all the vacuuming. 

I also just started the novel Washington Black by Esi Edugyan.

What I’m watching:

Rented Parasite to see what all the fuss was about. Wish someone had warned me! Jesus.

Also currently infatuated with Elizabeth Warren’s performance at last night’s Democratic debate. She was EN FUEGO. I know watching a debate is not everyone’s idea of a good time. It’s incredibly stressful, and I have to take pills to get through it. But if you’re curious about the woman who should become president, or if you just want the Cliff Notes, behold:

For this second one you have to get through a minute of Bloomberg, but it’s worth it for the context it sets. Holy shit, she slayed:

There was more. This woman is a bulldog.  

What I’m listening to: 

Okay I know this is weird but episode #4 of Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary (on PBS) got me on an Elvis kick for the first time in my life. 

What I’m eating:


Impulsively made this earl grey yogurt cake with a Bon Appetit recipe and highly recommend it unless you’re trying not to eat sugar and flour in which case definitely do not torture yourself by making this.

What I’m working on:

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