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Labels by Noreen Heffernan

Labels by Noreen Heffernan, Ridgewood Moms

Sometimes I sit down and think to myself, “Am I a helicopter mom?” I am definitely not a “free range “mom. I definitely wouldn’t let my young kids walk a mile to the park by themselves. BUT, I will not judge that couple who let their kids walk to the park. And I certainly wouldn’t call the authorities on them. I don’t know their situation. Maybe their kids are super responsible. Maybe they have an app that follows their location. I have no idea. And frankly, I don’t have time to care. What happened to the world where we let people just “parent,” without labels? LOOK AT THOSE “FREE RANGE” PARENTS! It is one thing to say they made a bad parental decision. But, now they have a label. And now other parents are self-proclaimed “free rangers.” It is a thing. Are you for or against?

Read this article from Washinton Post

My friend laughed when I told her I thought I was a helicopter mom. “No, you are not,” she said. A helicopter mom literally hovers over her children, doesn’t let them play, go anywhere or do anything without them, etc. “Phew,” I said. Dodged that bullet. But, I am closer to that than the other. I am also a new mom so my anxiety hormones are kicking in. “Please don’t stand near the edge,” I hear myself saying about 5 times a day and “Please be careful.”

Aren’t we so hooked on these labels? Well, someone is hooked because these labels are all over the place. And they could, potentially, make us crazy. Because we all want to be the best parent we can be. So, when someone puts something out there, we read it and then we ponder what kind of parent we are, instead, we really should just be who we are and we should accept who we are and accept how someone else parents. Actually, we should ignore how someone else parents, because who cares what they do. Worry about what you do.

I’m afraid the old school parenting is gone and this new school parenting is too much pressure. OK, so what kind of mom do you want me to be? That’s how I feel. What is correct? How am I supposed to act? Gone are the ways where we actually trust ourselves and our natural instincts as parents. GASP. As a society, we put too much emphasis on what we are doing wrong or right and/or how we can be better and not enough emphasis on the fact that parental instincts are always the best answer. I have all the answers. You have all the answers!

And what about our children?

For example, now I read and hear all about how we can’t let our children like princesses. Sorry, too late in this house. They have to be “STRONG” now. “Strong is the new pretty.” And if they wear a princess dress, they should be able to get DIRTY in a PRINCESS DRESS! They should wear cute girl dresses with trucks on them. They should like trucks. They shouldn’t read princess books because then they will think a prince will have to save them. And if they don’t do everything this “new” society is preaching, the parent MUST be failing. HELP! I get it. I understand the need to empower. I want that for my daughters, of course. But, I have to believe my daughter feels empowered by putting on her tutu and going to school like she has magical frozen powers. There are different ways to empower our youth. There is never one way. Who are children are…is always enough. And if we respect their nature and manner, we automatically empower them. We don’t have to join the anti-princess movement to prove it.

After all, they are kids! I feel like we are ALL trying to show that we are the BEST parent and we can potentially be making them behave against themselves or maybe we are parenting against ourselves. Perhaps? I never introduced princesses to my children. I honestly don’t know how it ever arrived in our house. But, it did and I bought them what they wanted for Christmas and birthdays. You know why, because it made them happy. I of course want the best for my children. I want them to be socially accepted and strong and brave. I feel like I’m teaching about bravery and kindness every single day.

At the same time, I won’t make them be anything but who they are. That is how I was raised. I cried leaving my mom, so my mom took me home. And look at me. I did fine. So, if my kindergartner doesn’t want to play T ball, well then, she isn’t going to play T ball. I’m glad she has a strong opinion about it. She knows what she wants.

In the end, I want her to be who she is. And, I want her to be proud of that.

Both my daughters can make up an entire fairy-tale land with one doll each by using something called their imagination. Proud! They can play with a stick outside and create an adventure together. Proud. They don’t need me to come up with a plan for them. They don’t need a million things around them. They are simple little princesses, and I am proud of that. Sometimes they behave like dreams, and sometimes they stand in a corner and cry. They are who they are. They don’t need me to label it. They are children.

Sometimes labels are good. I happen to like the labels on a wine bottle. But, sometimes labels make someone believe they are something else entirely. Sometimes it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes we need to tear these labels away and look at the individual. We need to look at the individual’s needs, whether it is the parent or the child. Who are they and where do they shine? And then sometimes we need to remember that we are all in this together. We have one goal. To raise our children right. Whether you are the yoga mom, or the hippie mom, whether you breastfeed or give your baby formula; whatever type of mother you are, remember that another mother wants the same for her child.

I am a mom of three beautiful girls. And sometimes I shine and sometimes I don’t. But, I always try. And sometimes I do what I need to do to survive. And then there are other times when I sit back and think about it all; I think about the fact that I was literally cut open to bring these babies into the world. I am breastfeeding around the clock. I am making lunches, getting three kids dressed and fed and out the door. I am tired, underappreciated, worn out, and sleep deprived.

So if you want to label me, label me this; I am a mom, a warrior if you will…and I am pretty amazing! And so are you.

Let whatever divides us, be respected. But, whatever binds us, be cherished. Let’s strip ourselves of the labels and come together for the sake of our children.

And then watch this when you get a chance.

~Noreen Heffernan,Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies


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