I came upon an article today in the Wall Street Journal called, A Field Guide to the Middle-Class U.S. Family. It outlines the research of Elinor Ochs at UCLA. Dr. Ochs is an anthropologist who, along with her team, set up a bunch of cameras and observers in homes to study the American Family. (That thought alone gave me shivers… I can only imagine how intrusive it would be for a family to be observed all the time, in daily routines!) The results are now in: We American, middle-class parents are leading child-centered households, where kids reign over our every move.
That point is not too surprising to me, but it did hit a nerve. It made me think about my own style of parenting, and my need to help my kids in every single way. Yes, I’m picking up after their messes, helping them cut their food, making weekend entertainment decisions based on what they would like. So I guess… that makes me a “helicopter parent”. (Pause here to let my reluctant tone set in.) But it also got me thinking about our family’s digital and media life, and my obsession with co-viewing and co-playing. There, too, our viewing and playing together is always based on the kids’ choice. Is this also “helicopter parenting“?
Part of it is about engaging in appropriate material with my children. For example, I’m not going to let my preschoolers take a turn in my very competitive Scrabble game via my iPhone app. I’m also not going to let my children co-view “Glee” with me. They are simply too young to engage in this kind of content. But that basically means that our co-viewing and co-playing come down to their own interests and content made for them.
So, dear readers, please help me out here. Do you think that co-viewing is a form of “helicopter parenting”? And if so, does it bother you to recognize that it is? Please comment!