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isn't a bit of 'benign' neglect' a better parenting approach than helicopter parenting ?

(129 Posts)
calopene Sun 22-Sep-13 23:33:47

.....By that I meaning giving kids a bit of responsability to do their own thing , helping them put up withand develop a bit of resilience to situations which are difficult/ uncomfortable. Also exposingthem to a bit of problem solving etc. Kids thrive when not cossetted/controlled and 'protected' to within an inch of their lives.

ShreddedHoops Sun 22-Sep-13 23:36:21

Well it's a balance, isn't it. My personality tends towards wanting to helicopter so I make a conscious effort to be a benign neglecter - but also because it makes parenting a lot easier tbh if you encourage independence ASAP. What's got your goat?

morethanpotatoprints Sun 22-Sep-13 23:39:04

I don't see your point.

Kids can have all you list but still be cossetted, controlled and protected.
That's what being a good parent is all about, balance.
Neglect is never good.

tethersend Sun 22-Sep-13 23:42:22

Well, context is everything. Benignly neglecting children to roam around the grounds of their country pile is less risky than benignly neglecting them to roam around the crack-riddled estate they live on.

YoureBeingADick Sun 22-Sep-13 23:43:30

Mix of the two? Everything in moderation? All of something is no good of course- that goes for benign neglect too- there is a point when that i just neglect and the line is different fir different people- i say do what feels right for your child and dont consult MN about every parenting decision.

BreconBeBuggered Sun 22-Sep-13 23:45:01

Exactly, tethers

This wouldn't be a fred about a fred, would it? <helpful>

ShakeAndVac Sun 22-Sep-13 23:46:48

It's a happy medium, isn't it. You can't mollycoddle them all the way, and need to step back at some point and let them find their own way.
If you're packing them off to the beach by themselves, letting them trek across London by tube by themselves at the age of 6 and whatnot, then that absolutely, DEFINITELY isn't OK.

ShreddedHoops Sun 22-Sep-13 23:46:54

Also, kids need one or the other to varying degrees in different situations and developmental stages IMO.

Going to a new toddler group and letting a shy one get on with it with no hand-holding = inappropriate

Taking toddler to a familiar park and hovering over them while they explore, constantly warning them to be careful = inappropriate

And so in as infinitum or at least until university - where taking son to his new digs, maybe a trip to supermarket / ikea then a cheery wave goodbye is appropriate, versus staying to take him out for tea when he should be bonding with his mates. Or not bothering to drive him at all, or even call to check how he's got on.

It's so obviously a huge spectrum, it's not either / or.

Yakky Sun 22-Sep-13 23:48:13

Sorry but no. I tend to get a bit twitchy if my DCs are playing outside and I can't see them every 10 mins.

ShakeAndVac Sun 22-Sep-13 23:50:46

OP sends her kids out to school via London tube by themselves at the age of 6 if previous freds are to be believed. With slightly older children. Still children nonetheless.
So I tend to take her version of 'helicopter parenting' as normal everyday parenting.

ShreddedHoops Sun 22-Sep-13 23:52:03

Ah I see. Well I would never in a million years put DC on London tubes alone under about 14 or so.

calopene Mon 23-Sep-13 06:53:49

This thread isn't about another thread's about a genuine wish to hear about other people's parenting style. YOUREBEING - I think that's the key isn't it - it's what each individual feels comfortable with , within reason odf course. However why do some people feel so 'attacked' if you don't 'follow' their style ?

calopene Mon 23-Sep-13 06:55:44

That's YOU ,,,,,SHREDDED. A different style. I do think 'Helicoptering' is more harmful than parents realise though.

cory Mon 23-Sep-13 07:03:17

The problem with your OP is that it is so vague: until you define what is meant by "neglectful parenting" and what is meant by "helicopter parenting", they're just words.

It's like saying "good parenting" is better than "bad parenting"- it doesn't mean anything until you have defined "good" and "bad".

Of course we can all agree that "helicopter parenting" is bad: it is a term invented specifically to describe overly involved parenting, in other words involvement taken to the degree where it becomes a negative thing. And "benign neglect" is a term invented to describe a positive degree of independence.

Crowler Mon 23-Sep-13 07:08:39


I'm more on the helicopter side and I'm beginning to see where I've really screwed my kids up, to be honest. They literally seem incapable of doing anything for themselves.

turnipsoup Mon 23-Sep-13 07:11:29

One of the foremost responsibilities of a parent is to keep their child safe. (by safe I mean safe from harm, well fed, clothed etc)

Of course it is very important for a child to learn independence, but never at the risk of their wellbeing. I think exposing kids to situations where they need to problem solve, or situations that are difficult is fine, as long as they are safe, and you are not exposing them to something that they may find completely overwhelming.

I would feel justified in bringing up any issues I thought placed children in danger, however I would not feel it was my place to discuss someone helicoptering their child. One is neglect, the other a choice of parenting that I may not agree with.

Crowler Mon 23-Sep-13 07:13:38

Sorry but no. I tend to get a bit twitchy if my DCs are playing outside and I can't see them every 10 mins.

I'd say if your kids are outside playing alone, you're not a helicopter parent.

calopene Mon 23-Sep-13 07:14:17

That's YOU ,,,,,SHREDDED. A different style. I do think 'Helicoptering' is more harmful than parents realise though.

fuzzpig Mon 23-Sep-13 07:43:42

I think it is a good thing as long as the child is safe (but then surely that's a given due the word benign - ie neglect that is harmless?)

I barely saw my DCs yesterday as they were too busy dressing up, playing marble run and creating an aquarium with a shoe box (something I'd planned on doing with them but they just took the stuff upstairs and made it while practising a play with the fish) - it was great, I could hear them and provide the obligatory praise/encouragement/arbitration in sibling spats etc. And I got lots of much needed rest.

I agree context is everything though. I can't practise BN when they play out - if we had a private garden it'd be easy, but we only have the front and pathways and cars come zooming into the car park bit way too fast, so I am very hovery then.

Caitycat Mon 23-Sep-13 07:44:34

I absolutely agree that accompanying a child on a tube train is not helicopter parenting, it is responsible, normal parenting. Helicopter parenting would be to make your child hold your hand on the tube at age 14!

wordfactory Mon 23-Sep-13 07:55:59

The parents I know who commend themselves for benign neglect are sometimes just lazy. Some of them are disconnected from their DC.

Any effort made by other parents is dismissed as helicopter parenting and damaging. Tis middle class arse covering IMVHO.

As for the Underground, well...I was with my DC this weekend on the tube and someone threw themselves on the line. It was horrible to hear the anouncement and my DC (14 yrs) were pretty darn shocked! We were also stuck in the tube (without phone signal for 45 mins). Absolutely no 6 year old should be placed in the position!

Lazyjaney Mon 23-Sep-13 07:59:30

This generation's definition of benign neglect is probably what my parents' one would have seen as helicopter parenting (I exaggerate, but not that much....)

fuzzpig Mon 23-Sep-13 08:05:20

I don't think BN should be used as a way of not connecting with DCs. There must be lots of affection, that goes without saying. We are a very loved up family.

I see it as always being available at the centre while the DCs explore around you, and the radius of this imaginary circle increases with age and experience (for my DCs 4&6 it is basically the house and the parks we frequent, anywhere else I would keep them near me)

fuzzpig Mon 23-Sep-13 08:09:23

(I don't mean they go to the parks by themselves BTW grin just that when we go I don't hover - well, not at all with 6yo, with 4yo I do to some extent)

Tailtwister Mon 23-Sep-13 08:12:55

I think you have to be flexible and the best approach is a combination of both. The most important thing imo is to be aware where your natural approach lies. I'm more of a helicopter parent, I naturally prefer to feel in control. I have to work on allowing my children some freedom, which I difficult for me.

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