As mothers, we receive plenty of input about what we should be doing, should have done or should do now. Frankly, we should have known better, thought of that before and been one step ahead. No wonder some of us fall into the dreaded trap of helicopter-parenting – sticking our nose into our child’s business when it would be best to let them make their own choices and fail if need be.
Colleges and universities have found it necessary to bar parents from inserting themselves into the college application process. (We are invited to the financial process, of course.) Is this because parents are filling out applications, meeting important deadlines, deciding majors and minors, and making a myriad of decisions they have no business making? Probably.
Now we’re told children are too dependent upon us. After all, more college freshman are finding it impossible to successfully stay in school. Is it because they miss us or are they missing the information they need to survive and thrive on their own?
What makes us want to take flight and hover over our kids?
The Internet and other technological revolutions have given teenagers more opportunities to make big mistakes but less freedom to make the kind of small mistakes needed to grow up.
Back in my day (just hum-a-dee-hum-hum years ago,) you could behave like an idiot, make a couple of ridiculous mistakes, magically escape without killing yourself, get grounded, learn the lesson, and only a few people found out – your best friend, mom, dad, and maybe the principal.
Now if a kid does something dumb, it’s tweeted, snap-chatted, and tumbled for all to see. Forever.
Why are we so protective of our kids?
We want our children to be happy and healthy and we’re willing to do just about anything to make that happen! This is nothing new. Parents have been doing the same thing for a long time. That’s not all bad. Kids can’t even put a sock on their own foot for the first two years of life – and then moments later they are moving away. Some of us can’t process this transition in real time.
Let’s give ourselves a break while we make a change in our flight pattern.
Here are four tips to move from helicopter parenting to a safe landing:
- Satisfy your desire to do things for your children by mothering them in small ways: Make their favorite dessert, tidy their room as a special surprise, or put a note in their lunch. Let them take over the tasks that will teach them about life.
- Make a list of all the things you’ve done that prove to you that you’re a good parent. Everyone else already knows you’re a good parent.
- Ask your children to let you know if they feel they can take on additional responsibilities. Children assume we know what’s best. They haven’t yet learned that we’re making this parenting thing up as we go along.
- Appreciate the fact that you love your children as much as you do. It’s a great feeling – kind of like flying.
It’s time to retire the chopper.
Let’s agree none of us wants to be a helicopter parent and we love to take care of our children. Plus, we have information our kids don’t have – and talents, experience, and abilities they have yet to develop.
How do you find balance?
The next time you do something for your children they should be doing themselves, see if you can slow down those propellers and include your children in the process. Yes, it takes longer and they don’t know what they’re doing, but neither did we when we were their age. Let them figure it out.
Enjoy watching them fly solo and be there for their occasional bumpy landings.
What challenges do you face in letting your kids learn their own lessons and make their own mistakes?