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Why Did I End Up Hovering Over All The Kids At A Party?

There is obviously a disparity between what you think 3-year-olds are capable of and what the other parents think kids this age can do. It would be useful to examine this, and think about whether you yourself were treated as less capable than you were by your parents, or if they gave you too much independence, making you resolve to be there for your own kids at all times.
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Mother spending fun time with baby on birthday party
Mother spending fun time with baby on birthday party

Reader Involved Mommy writes,

I need some help here. We were invited to a 3 year old's birthday party. The little girl is in my daughter's preschool class. I thought it was good to get to know the other children's parents as we are new in town and school.

Long story short... I ended up hovering over everyone's kids! I stood at the jumping castle to check that they didn't hurt themselves and each other. When the treat packs were handed out, I went to sit on the grass with my two kids to help them open their snacks. The next moment I was surrounded by ALL the kids! Opening lollipops, crisps, cold drinks, you name it.

I sat in the sun while all the others sat with their wine and drinks in the shade and chatting along happily, watching from a fair distance. Did they think I was hired help? I didnt get to talk to anyone! Just kids! I was literally up to my elbows in sticky melting sweets, juice pressed out of those ridiculous foil containers and cupcake icing. We left after an hour and 20 minutes. I just couldn't go on!

Am I now labeled as a helicopter mom? I don't want to go to the next one because I was so shocked that not one other mom came to help or look after their kids. What do I do next time? Help!!!! I need to get to know people for my own sanity!



Dear IM,

That sounds like a very annoying situation. I am totally on board with your desire to make adult friends, and I think your current behavior is not helping you. There is obviously a disparity between what you think 3-year-olds are capable of and what the other parents think kids this age can do. It would be useful to examine this, and think about whether you yourself were treated as less capable than you were by your parents, or if they gave you too much independence, making you resolve to be there for your own kids at all times.

If you tend toward anxiety, a good way to figure out what's appropriate for your kids based on their ages is to watch the other parents. If they aren't worried about their kids' ability to do certain tasks, then step back and see if your own children figure out what to do without your help. It is possible that they rely on you mainly because they are used to you being omnipresent and helping. If you gave them some more space, they may rise to the occasion and surprise you with their competence.

Also, I think that when you sat on the grass, the other parents assumed you were choosing to sit with the kids rather than with them in the shade. If you had opened your kids' containers and then gone over to the other parents, then the other kids would have run over to their parents for help with their containers and then ran back to the kid "section." Then you would have had the adult socializing that you want. Going forward, try to figure out where the other adults are and situate yourself near them. Your kids will be fine, especially after they get acclimated to the new dynamic.

I applaud your self-awareness for realizing that you may have been unintentionally contributing to the issue, rather than just blaming the other parents for being cliquish. Good luck and thanks for writing in. Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says Your Kids Will Probably Like It Better If You Back Off Too.

This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family.