Social Media


A Hong Kong Mama Explains How She ‘Raised’ Her Parenting Style From Bulldozer To Drone

parenting styles changing drone parenting hero
ParentingPost Category - ParentingParenting

Tiger Mum, helicoptering, attachment parenting… everyone knows about these parenting styles! But have you heard about this Sassy Mama’s drone parenting style?

It was not long ago that I was still counting down the hours between nap times and willing the clock hands to move faster so that my children would go to bed. During those years, I was a parent with three rambunctious toddlers and I felt weary, worn, and in need of wine. Some time ago, I mentioned to a friend that if I had stashed away a dollar for each time someone consoled me with the “the days are long but the years are short” phrase, I would have no use for my MPF savings because I would be rich.

It certainly didn’t seem like that to me then, but four years down the line, I am already on the other side of the spectrum. Instead of dreading that “the days are long”, I am dreading that the “years are short”. I am older; the children are bigger; and the only constant is that the stash of money remains woefully small.

Read More: 4 Different Parenting Styles – Find What Works Best For You

time flies when you are parenting

Slipping Through My Fingers… Time Flies When You’re A Parent

Time has indeed flown. Many of us are aware of the (rather shocking) statistic that has been doing the rounds of social media for the last few years: 75% of time spent with our children will be over by the time they turn 12, and 90% of our time will be spent by the time they turn 18. This statistic may be an over-generalisation but the apprehension of limited time with my children crept in slowly and appeared immediately. My kids have now officially moved into the territory of double digits and teenage-dom. Upon entry to this foreign land, I’ve been introduced to several traits of the inhabitants including extended bathroom times (what do they do in there for so long?) and heightened nocturnal activity all over the house, especially in the kitchen. I had heard stories that one day my kids may be embarrassed about hugging me at the bus stop; and all of a sudden, I find they don’t even give a second glance through the bus window.

“Now that 75% of my live-with-children parenting is behind me, I have the benefit of hindsight to share how my parenting style evolved. In a welcome development, I now parent like an inaudible fart – silent but pervasive.”

But perhaps I need to find a more desirable term than a fart, and not give my children ammunition to use against me.  So what exactly changed in my parenting style? I flew higher in order to see farther (unfortunately, the imagery of hot air emitting from me is distorting the analogy, but bear with me).

Read More: The Stages Of Child Development And Signs To Watch Out For

bulldozer parenting style

Bulldozer Parenting: Charging To Protect

My first phase of parenting was terrestrial and inelegant (but which newly minted mother cared about appearances?). I was a bulldozer, ploughing down any real or imagined obstacle that stood in my children’s way. Noisy neighbour disturbing my child’s nap? She’ll have me on her doorstep in no time. School admissions officer rejected my son? I want a second assessment. The must-have sleep swaddle made from 200% organic cotton and sewn together with bamboo silk is out of stock? I’ll call the company’s headquarters. I will withhold judgement on whether this parenting style was right or wrong. I will say though that it is an understandable mode for when the children are young and seemingly vulnerable. As they get older, want more independence, and need to learn agency, I suggest creating some distance. Or, as I did, go overhead.

Read More: How To Raise An Independent Preschooler In Hong Kong

helicopter parenting style

Helicopter Parenting: Hovering Around To Help

The bulldozer gave way to the Red Cross chopper; I became the proverbial helicopter parent.

“I was flying in essential care packages such as forgotten pieces of homework and hot lunch from home. Or airlifting children from playdates and training sessions whilst honouring a schedule so packed that it felt the only way to get them anywhere on time was to fly overhead.”

I would hover to observe whether Chinese revision was done, or if the piano was practised (or pounded) on painfully for an hour, and check whether the broccoli was boiled or air-fried. This is also when the tension and disagreements manifested. Instead of a parent I felt like the police; much of our interactions was a series of “have you done this…?” or “why haven’t you done that…?” In order to preserve our relationship, I had to trust my children and their decisions. And while we’re all still under the same roof, it was an awful waste of time to argue over Chinese homework and the nutrient density of broccoli.

Read More: A Hong Kong Mama Decides To Consciously “Unschedule”

drone parenting style

Drone Parenting: Fly Higher, See Farther

Which explains why I have now moved to the third phase of parenting – what I call drone parenting. I brag to my children and highlight just how much freedom I give them, but also sternly warn: “Don’t you dare turn off your Find My Location!” (caveat: for drone parenting to work, my kids needed to be grown enough to have a phone).

“Drone parenting is similar to the all-seeing eye, but for it to work effectively I need to be secure enough to parent with benign negligence, and accept that ignorance is bliss.”

I can still remember a distinct example of droning. I asked my son the usual question as he was getting ready for bed: “Did you finish all your homework?” And he replied, “I did.” My former self would have pursued the line of questioning with: “Well, let’s see it please. I want to make sure you understand all your work.” But, in a surprise flight manoeuvre, I smiled, gave him a good night kiss, and said “I trust you, well done!” It took courage to stay silent and pray that he wouldn’t flunk school if I didn’t check his homework. And then there was another realisation: did I just gain an extra 20 minutes for the nightcap? Score!

 Read More: How To Talk To Your Teen – 9 Effective Communication Tips

parenting styles teenagers

Parenting With The 90% Statistic In Mind

Now that I’m piloting a drone, I can have my two feet firmly planted on the ground, ready and willing to join my kids in a round of table tennis or accompany them to another concert recital. As my allotted 90% inches closer each day, it’s quite startling to me how vastly differently I think about time. Only a few years ago I was urging the clock hands to go faster, and now I beseech the hands – if possible – to move slower and give me more time with the littles.

There are so many variations of the modern parent, and as a first time mother we often try to figure out which pre-existing style suits us best. Are we the helicopter or drone? The Asian Tiger or lawnmower? Time and time again, I’ve found the most frustrating part of being a parent is that there is no instruction manual or successful best practice model. But after many trials and even more errors, I’ve also concluded that parenting using an animal or machinery metaphor is not helpful. Instead, I choose to be aware of limited time, and to parent with my unique set of characteristics: joy, empathy, humour – all while keeping an eye on the drone just to know what they may be up to…

Read More: Motherhood 101 – Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Mum


  Main image courtesy of Getty, image 1 courtesy of Kindel Media via Pexels, image 2 courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels, image 3 courtesy of August de Richelieu via Pexels, image 4 courtesy of Tianhao Wang via Unsplash, image 5 courtesy ofAllen Taylor via Unsplash.

more sassy mama

What's New

We're social

We're social

What we're up to and what inspires us