When I first heard of the term of helicopter parent, it was in an article and attached to a picture of mom who was flying a helicopter and watching over her child below. I know that it is bad to be one, but I can’t help wanting to bubble-wrap my toddler son’s body when he wants to play outside. My husband thinks that I am going to turn him into a wimp with all my coddling, but I just want to avoid pain and hardship for him. I know it is crazy of me to have these thoughts, but I struggle to turn my inner helicopter off.
When I look in the mirror, I see a strong, educated, and independent woman, so when did I turn into a fear-filled parent who throws all rational thinking out the door when it comes to her children? I was thinking of this question the other day and I came to the realization that this fear of physical danger is probably similar to why some parents are fearful of their child failing academically or musically. What if your child doesn’t have what it takes to compete in society? This is probably why parents believe they need to produce bilingual children, give extra school work, make a child practice the piano one hour before school and one hour after school, and enrolls them in special skills camp during the summer. My Asian parents sent me to special camps because they felt the pressure by other parents. They said that they were ashamed to send me to the park district to make string bracelets and eat s’mores, when other kids were attending camp at Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy to take classes in Marine Biology.
Every day, I see well-intentioned parents who are told by media to create an environment that is bubble-wrapped and controlled. This is why parents are letting their babies “cry it out,” insisting their kids only eat organic products, and sanitizing everything their child might touch. We are hard on ourselves to keep things perfect for our children. Yet, we are also hard on our peers who are parents. We look at what other parents buy for their kids and judge them as parents. If a certain parent does not have the newest child-rearing item, some believe they are not successful parents. One of my friends confessed that she applied for a new credit card, so she could get a Stokke stroller that costs $1,000. Her reasoning was because she ”felt judged by other moms at the park for only having a Maclaren.”
Helicopter moms have become the norm. And if you think the hovering ends with high school graduation, think again. I teach college-level writing and I still have parents who edit their children’s papers through email, call me to check up on their child’s grades, and give their child a cell phone with G.P.S., so they can know where their child is at all times. I also see parents who drop off a week’s worth of food each week and will do their child’s laundry, so the child can have more time to study and enjoy college.
I know the intentions of the parents are to help their child succeed, but they are ultimately trying to control the outcome of their child’s future and make sure they can have a life of happiness and success. There are many mothers who believe that good grades will bring acceptance in good college and this will lead to child being successful and happy. This sounds like a wonderful, but life is not that simple.
The reason one becomes a helicopter parent is because they fear that their children will not be “successful” in school and life. I am guilty of this. Unfortunately, by trying to control aspects of the child’s life, they are raising fear-filled children who will be ill-equipped to survive in the world and are scared of failure. Lastly, parents are teaching them not trust God who is in control of their future.
Personally speaking, my days of being a helicopter mom have been stressful and exhausting. I feel like I am living a scene out of the movie “Groundhog Day” because I get through a day and then wake-up to do it again the next day. It is easy to justify being a helicopter parent by telling myself that I am being intentional and purposeful than my parents’ generation. Yet, I am allowing parenting to be my profession that consumes me. This intensity of caring for my children is draining and it is not what God intended for parents and kids. Every day, I fight my hovering tendencies and try to remember that parents stand over their children to protect and guide them. And for me to do this, I have to remember to “walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light” (1 John 1:7). I want my children to have the ability to function independently, to figure out who they are in Christ, and I am not helping by hovering over them.
Pray for me, as I take these baby steps to live in faith and let go of trying to control the things around me. Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). This reminds me that Christ and his kingdom will never pass away. He will always be with us. This should be the foundation of my faith and if my children know this, they will never lose hope and will never fail because they have a secure future, “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for them (1 Peter 1:4).
I am landing my helicopter and exiting. I feel hesitant, but so free!