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Confessions Of A Helicopter Parent
Stuff ‘N Nonsense 7-12-23
Kim Van Meter

Hi, my name is Kim and I’m a recovering helicopter parent.

For context, my youngest daughter just graduated high school and then went on a whirlwind tour of Europe, visiting four countries in 13 days with the Education First tour group coordinated through a handful of OHS teachers.

This was the first time my daughter had left home for any significant length of time or distance. I was crazy excited for her to experience this trip-of-a-lifetime, but I was shocked at how her absence affected me.

As a GenXer, my childhood was unencumbered by electronic tethers — when I went outside, my parents truly had no idea where I was or what kind of danger I might be courting — and they didn’t want to see me again until it was dark and time to come home.

The number of times I narrowly escaped dying while exploring the forest, following the creek to God-knows-where, and swimming in places no one knew about — would turn my hair white as a parent today.

On one hand, those memories make up a treasure trove of experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world, but I shudder to think of my own kids facing any of the dangerous situations I inadvertently put myself in as a bored kid.

Parenting is an odd mix of picking and choosing when to protect your progeny and when to thrust them into the world with a hope and a prayer — but never actually knowing if you’re making the right decision.

At the end of the day, parents are only ever doing the best that they can with the tools they’ve been given.

I wanted to be the parent I thought I needed when I was a kid — which meant lots of attention, lots of validation, gobs of love and acceptance, and 100 percent involvement in whatever they chose to pursue.

What I can say with certainty is we all start with good intentions and humans being imperfect, usually twist those intentions into something entirely new and not always what we intended.

I filled my kids’ lives with books from the time they were infants — they ALL hate to read.

I hugged and kissed my babies all of the time — two out of my three kids hate to be hugged.

I supported any dream they had — two out of my three kids haven’t found anything they passionately love.

Now two of my three kids are adults, and my baby is on the cusp of adulthood, leaving me to reflect on my performance as their parent.

Hindsight is funny that way. Easier to see the missteps when you’re looking backward but impossible to know when you’re in the thick of it.

However, maybe all that time spent hovering over them, wanting to know every detail of their lives, wasn’t such a bad thing after all because at the end of the day, my kids turned out to be three of my favorite people.

And I’ll never feel bad about that.


Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide a monthly column. She can be reached at