Mom: FunKiller #1

See this? This is the sort of thing that makes me cringe and get nauseated and freak out-internally.

I'll take "things that make mom puke" for $200, Alex

It’s true I’m one of those mother’s that keeps her children close. I don’t like them doing ANYTHING risky and I’d rather all their limbs remain grounded. I was not-so-secretly FINE with my kids being afraid of heights (which they outgrew, dammit) and if it were up to me they’d walk around in padding and helmets … just in case. They hold my hand across parking lots, I don’t let them play out front without an adult around. If there is a tree that needs to be climbed or the ledge of a wall walked…I prefer their father handle the task. I don’t want my kid driving in someone else’s car, so I schedule calls around field trips. If I haven’t been to your house and don’t know you well, they aren’t coming over to play.

Yes, I know. They need to experience the world and that may include getting hurt. Yes, I realize they have to be allowed to explore. Believe me…I try my best to allow reasonable play around here. But that’s exactly why, when my daughter was being tossed too many feet into the air…I kept my mouth shut. She was giggling, Dad was laughing…I was dying.

Do I speak up? Do I shut up? If I say something I’m a party pooper. If I don’t she could have a cracked head. Clearly Dad is in control, but what if an accident happens?

I struggle, much like this, almost daily. When I speak up I offend their father or ruin the fun and when I shut up I am riddled with anxiety. I have family members that discuss me as a ‘helicopter’ mom and friends that pat me on the back in agreement.

It’s a never-ending wave of decisions that ultimately show me as both the bad guy and the cautious parent…but never as fun.

I’m learning to accept my suck-ass FunKiller role, though. I am. Because frankly, I can’t take the alternative. Nor should I.


  1. So while I got used to the tossing in the air, with a son that has swallowed two quarters and had them lodged in his throat, stuffed a yogo up his nose and other scary things of his own accord I am ridiculously nervous about letting him do a lot of things.

    Yes I know that’s different then what you’re saying…but I guess what I’m getting at is I can relate.

  2. I have a slightly higher tolerance for a lot of things you describe than you do. (Though not the heights thing; on that, I’m in total agreement. SHUDDER.) Still, it sounds to me like, in general, you aren’t actually killing the fun. If you weren’t letting them GO on the field trips, I might think you were overdoing it, but you’re simply rearranging things so that the situation feels safer to you. And I’m assuming that those kids whose parents you don’t yet know are allowed to come to your house, even if you’re not comfortable at first with your kids going to theirs, right? Again, sounds more like being careful than being helicoptery.

    Still, I think you’d probably have a laugh (and/or a heart attack) if you read a few of the posts and comments over on Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids blog: I consider myself pretty hands-off, but even I sometimes wind up on the overprotective side of the equation when I hang out there!

  3. I hold my son close. Ridiculously close, I admit it. He’s 9 and hates it. Doesn’t want to hold my hand. Doesn’t want me checking in on him when I see a “thud” in his room.

    I get very anxious thinking about him being in the car with another parent–unless I know them and have ridden in a car with them extensively. Nearly hyperventilated when he rode on a charter bus on a field trip two hours away. Yes, I was following at a safe distance.

    Do we ever really let go? My Mom? I love that she holds me close. As I grew older she let me stumble and fall, that’s for sure, but was always there as I was picking myself up. I think that’s the best we can do. Keep our kids close and be there to help pick them up when they stumble and fall.

  4. You are doing what you are supposed to do and Aaron is doing what he is supposed to do. That’s how kids get the balanced parenting they need.

  5. My mom always has been and always will be the epitome of worry. You can just see the gasp on her face and the words forming “what if”. I swore I would not be like that, but you know what, I am! Maybe not quite as bad, but I am. It’s hard not to be, we don’t ever want to see anything bad happen.

    But as far as guys go, why do they think it’s ok to throw children in the air, dang my heart jump out of my chest when I say that photo. WHEW!
    Anyway I am still trying not to become as bad as my mom because it has literally driven her to be so stressed.

  6. I’ve been waiting very patiently for Adrian to become tossable. His sister hit it at about 6 months. Almost…there….

    But if I understand the last part of your post you think the Funkiller role is justified (or even called for) because the alternative to you being the Funkiller is disaster. But logically that doesn’t follow. Because one of the alternatives to you being the Funkiller is that nothing bad happens at all. Which is probably what your overwhelming experience has been. There is no “the alternative” that ought to be compelling in favour of the Funkiller role. There are lots of alternatives.

    Maybe what you mean is some version of the Precautionary Principle: if the imagined event is irreversible and disastrous then a normally insignificant risk can be given a strong enough weight to recommend policy changes (the Precautionary Principle is most often deployed in international environmental policy).

    And I’ll submit for the record, y’honour, that men are just built for tossing and catching kids. It’s more natural. It’s organic. It’s granola. It’s what separates us from Martians: the combination of spindly catching arms and giant Martian-toddler heads is just a doomed enterprise.

  7. Clearly I am also a Funkiller, but of a different stripe. Carry on.

  8. Have you ever asked a parent, whose house your child was invited to, if he keeps in a gun in the house?
    I’ve asked, but I’ve never trusted the answer.

  9. I have asked parents if they own guns…where they are kept, etc. Yup…

  10. And that you managed to capture it in a photo…damn thing is they’ll probably worship this memento.

  11. I’ll never bring my son over to your house then. He’s a wild animal. 😉

  12. I will virtually pat you on the back in agreement as well. That picture makes me a little queezy, but I too let it go. Sometimes I leave the room.
    I brought my daughter to disney and let her go on the rollercoasters only because I was next to her. The ocean though, she goes out to a certain point because of her fear of sharks ( I could not be happier about this). It took everything in me to allow her to participate in a sailing program last year. Me not being there made it easier for some reason.

  13. ,..] is one another great source of information on this issue,..]

  14. You are the parent and you should behave how you feel. It’s a good balance to have one protective parent and one who is more adventurous. That’s how it works in our house – I let the boys crash and fall down and hope they don’t get too hurt. My wife is a little more cautious.

    Other people’s opinion’s don’t really matter since our children are unique and individuals who require their own care plan. If my kid hurt himself more I probably would be more cautious!

  15. My husband and I are the king and queen of fun killers – but that is because we have THREE BOYS who if they had their choice would be doing death defying acts every moment.. We all went to the beach with 2 other families. One family and ours were glued to our kids – we never sat down – never relaxed – never did anything but watched our kids. The OTHER family set up a tent, put out food to eat and let their kids roam around. We ended up watching THEIR kids.. Let’ s just stay we won’t be going to beach with the non fun killer family again.. (worse of all is that I was really hungry but was too busy running after kids to eat – watching the other family sit and eat was torture!)…

    Hail to the fun killer parents – we should all go on vacation together!

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