Recently, I had the displeasure of hearing someone describe a parent of a special needs kid as a helicopter parent. This was at a continuing education course and the “mom” in question was fictional, but it illustrates a very common perspective. That mom who knows exactly what is going on with the kids. She knows when every activity will happen, and carefully schedules how long the activity will take is the proverbial helicopter mom. They are at the school multiple times a week. They appear overly concerned with where the color of their kid’s food came from, and if it is all natural or red dye #bad. Their kid is gluten free, dairy free, meat free, sugar free, nut free, junk free, and in many other parent’s eyes fun free.
I am not that bad. As a matter of fact for an ADHD mom I am rather relaxed. My middle child has a nut allergy so of course we are nut free. However, we are not gluten free. I do avoid high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes, because I have noticed it makes matters worse in my house. I must say I am not as strict with that as I should be. We have tried supplements, but they resist after a while. I have done meditation apps, books on self-esteem, so on and so forth. Yet, with all of this I am not a helicopter mom.
I am at the school multiple times a week. I check with teachers regularly, and I could probably be on a first name basis with the principle and assistant principle. Yet, I am not a helicopter mom.
I make sure my kids check in regularly when they play outside and I struggle not to make sure I am outside with the older two every single second, but still I am not a helicopter mommy.
I could go on and on about what I do and that I am not a helicopter parent, but I think you get the point. So as you read this I know you are thinking “This chick is delusional.”
Let me explain why I am not a helicopter mom.
Schedule is important: I swear my kids turn into werepuppies if we are out after 9:00 pm. Does that mean they have to be in bed by 9? No. It means I need to be in the house by 9 or all hell will begin to break loose. So I need to know the details and plan accordingly. I say this, but we do struggle with keeping a consistent schedule. This is always a work in progress for us.
Diet matters: Even a person who has a “normal” way of thinking and functioning can be completely derailed by a poor diet. If you are eating food your body is sensitive to, it will cloud your mind and reduce your efficiency. Now think about a child dealing with those issues on top of being ADHD. As parents we are not called to make our kids think life is easy, but we can avoid making it harder than necessary. That being said, there is nothing wrong with the occasional pizza or hamburger if your kid can handle it. My kids can and so they get that. Some kids cannot. Don’t judge the parent from the outside looking in.
Medication alone is not the answer: we do play therapy, supplements (when effective), meditation apps to help with sleep and relaxation, karate, sports etc. All of these things are ways to help my children learn to self- regulate and focus as they grow to adulthood.
Now why am I a regular fixture at the school? Frankly, I have to be. The school needs to know I am available if needed to address a problem. My kids need to know I will pop up anytime. Honestly, a lot of times it is because I have forgotten to make lunch and I need to drop it off. Yeah, mom is forgetful too. All that being said, it is important to remember, if you can build a team to help your child succeed which includes, teachers, administration, resource teachers, mental health professionals, and you it is the best situation for your child. It is also the best situation for you. You cannot do this alone. Don’t try. Don’t beat yourself up because teaching your kid math is impossible for you. Somebody can teach them, it is your job to find out who.
The final and most compelling reason, in my opinion, I am not a helicopter mom is my motivation. I do what I do because my kids need it, not because I have a fear they will never function without me or that I personally need to address every stumbling block they will face. Right now they need a little more support than average. The way I see it, if I can give more support now, they will be more successful as I pull back later.
Do I believe there is such a thing as a helicopter mom? Yes, I am just not one of them.
By: Black ADHD Mom