Into the parenting style universe comes a new creature, hummingbird parenting. What is it? Well, it is a kind of modified version of helicopter parenting. Helicopter parents constantly hover, observing and controlling their children's lives virtually 24/7. It is a full-time job plus and is exhausting.
Sure just like the hummingbird, hummingbird parents do a bit of hovering, but it is hovering with intent. A helicopter parent intervenes all the time. A hummingbird parent goes in when needed. And the child gets a bit of freedom, independence, and permission to take some risks. Here are 10 things you should know about hummingbird parenting. Is it your style?
10 It's A Modified Form Helicopter Parenting
This woman probably wrote the handbook on helicopter parenting. Geez, mom, this teenage boy is probably thinking. You are embarrassing me big time. A hummingbird parent might have handed her kid a napkin, but never ever would they do this.
As we said, the hummingbird parent hovers with a reason. They will be watchful and aware, but never ever would they intervene unless there was a problem or an issue that needed dealing with. It's involved, but not controlling. The happiness and wellbeing of their child are paramount.
9 Going In Only When Needed
If a child has a problem and needs help, that is one thing. If the parent thinks he or she needs to go in and control everything all the time, that is something else. The hummingbird parent responds. He or she does not control 24/7.
They are aware of their child's situation and react to their needs. Sure, there will be times when they need to intervene, say if the child is in some danger, but they will watch and wait to see what arises before going in. Think of it as being pro-active parenting, but parenting that lets their child take some responsibility. Most would say it is effective parenting.
8 A Little Solo Decision Making
A hummingbird parent seeks to grow their kid's ability to make decisions. But it's steady as you go and one step at a time. And, as always, the hummingbird mom and dad will watch and wait to see if their child's decision is a good one.
If it is, they congratulate the child. If it's not, well, then that is a teaching opportunity. Think of it as a form of watchful, positive, hands-on parenting. In the beginning, kids are limited to taking baby steps. As he or she learns and grows, they are given more latitude.
7 Aware But Not Always Hovering
This mom is not hovering, but she is aware. She is, within limits, letting her boys get on with a pillow fight. She knows where they are and what they are doing, but she lets them do their thing.
That is the central core of hummingbird parenting. In these days and times, kids just can't have the amount of freedom accorded to older generations. So, parental awareness is key. Now when they whack her with a pillow, she may just laugh it off. Or maybe not. There's nothing in the hummingbird parent manual about that one.
6 A Little Risk-Taking Is Fine
A helicopter parent would be having a fit if this were their kid. But the hummingbird mommy and daddy say, well, the worse that can happen is he will fall a few feet, so let him play monkey. So, they will assess the risk, come up with the worst-case scenario, and make a decision.
As you have probably realized, hummingbird parenting is very pragmatic. Again, while the hummingbird parent will probably be at or near the playground, they will be watchful, but not directly jumping in whenever there is the slightest bit of risk-taking going on.
5 Going It Alone In Limited Doses
There are two schools of hummingbird thoughts as far as the great outdoors and kids are concerned. Hummingbird moms and dads tend to reject the idea that a child outside all by themselves is necessarily a bad thing. But, in these days and times, they are also aware of the dangers out there.
So, what often happens is that the child may have limited "alone" outdoor time in a place very near home. The parent will be watchful and aware. The child, having a great time on the swing, is blissfully unaware of the parent. It is perceived, not actually, independence.
4 In These Times: Knowing What To Look For
Another interesting aspect of hummingbird land is the fact that parents take it upon themselves to "educate" their kids. Even a little freedom and independence can hold dangers in our world today. So, kids can be taught to spot suspicious behavior, more so than just saying, "don't talk to strangers."
An awareness of what is and isn't acceptable adult behavior is key. Of course, the child must also learn to be wary of strangers. But more than that, they need a base for judging what is and is not okay as far as their interaction with adults is concerned.
3 Watchful Parenting
Is watchful hovering? Probably not. Being aware is not the same as hovering. The hummingbird parent usually knows what is going on in their child's life but only gets involved when it is necessary. It allows the child the freedom to do his or her own thing, knowing that the parent is there if they are needed.
With helicopter parenting, the parent is constantly jumping in to sort things out, even when they don't need to be sorted out. The hummingbird parent keeps an eye on things but, within limits, lets their child get on with their life, allowing some risk-taking while encouraging activities that build those mental muscles.
2 A Balance Between Independence And Support
There are various styles of parenting, from totally hands-off to controlling. Hummingbird parenting is somewhere in the middle. It balances an awareness of the risks with a rationed dose of independence. It combines parental support with a regulated ration of the child doing their own thing.
As we have seen, the hummingbird mom or dad doesn't so much hover as remain watchful. They aim to remain aware of their child's whereabouts and activities, jumping in only when it is necessary. On paper, it seems a nice balance of allowing a child to explore and grow and being protective and nurturing.
1 The Verdict
We have said that hummingbird parenting seems to balance the need to protect and nurture a child by allowing them to grow and allowing some independence and risk-taking. This appears to be the case.
The hummingbird parent is aware of the risks intrinsic in today's world and reacts accordingly. They allow a measure of freedom while being aware and watchful. Often the independence the child experiences is more perceived than real, but it achieves the goal of allowing the little girl or boy to experience it as if it were real. Hummingbird parenting is a winner, we think.