Life / Health

Are you just keeping them safe or helicopter parenting?

My daughter started Grade 1 at a new school this year. That means there are a few changes around here.

And by “a few,” I mean pretty much everything we were used to has changed.

She’s starting French Immersion. (Her French consists of mumbling a line she heard in Barbie and The Three Musketeers.)

Her old school was a two-minute walk from our front door and required no street-crossing. Now she takes a bus with a bunch of kids she doesn’t know, most of whom are much older than she is.

And perhaps the biggest adjustment of all: She has to be on that big, old bus a full hour before she used to even wake up.

On her second day, she grumped to her Daddy, “I never get to sleep in!”

Oh, kid, you have no idea.

All of this has been thrown onto a kid who is adverse to change. So I get what it’s like to have a kid go through all this momentous change, I really do.

And I don’t like change either. I’m nervous about how my little girl will fit into her new class. I fear the adjustment to the new language. I have irrational visions of bus accidents and bullying and a million other things.

But here’s the thing: I figure that it does me no good to project my fears onto my daughter, so when she confidently gets on that school bus, I smile and wave and rah-rah-rah her independence.

Then I shuffle home and cry a few tears on my own. I don’t hop in the car and follow her to school, hide behind bushes or question the abilities of the driver and staff who are meant to get her where she’s supposed to be, safely.

Another parent at my daughter’s bus stop waved her child onto the bus, hopped in her car and followed them to the school.

I asked her why and she said something along the lines of just “wanting to make sure everything is OK.”

Now, parents have been asked not to do this because it clogs up the traffic around the small residential neighbourhood the school is in.

The parents can’t actually drive up anywhere near the school — they have to park a few streets away.

So after being told all this, it never crossed my mind that following the bus was “a thing”.

I’m supposed to follow the bus to ensure it arrives? Or watch my daughter get off the bus and be immediately ushered to the back play yard by a teacher? Why? What information am I supposed to garner here?

I asked on Twitter whether I was “supposed” to follow the bus. The answers were on polar ends of the spectrum.

I heard the parents saying that, yes, they follow the bus to school. “To watch (my])kid get off the bus” or “My child is nervous, this is a big change! Of course I follow the bus!” and I heard the others, like @MissJoyFG, say, “Whup, whup, whup! Hear that? It’s the sound of a helicopter parent descending. Yikes.”

Many expressed concern over parents following the bus, indicating that it could affect the child’s confidence or independence.

Others felt it was just the way things should be done.

I was left somewhere in the middle, wondering if I was being irresponsible by not following along to “make sure” that bus driver knows what he’s doing. On the other hand, I was feeling pretty proud about not hovering over my daughter. is an online resource to help  busy women survive motherhood.

More on