On helicopter parenting

How do you feel about helicopter parenting? I, personally, find it very challenging to discern between healthy limit-setting and over-involvment parenting.

On the one hand, I want to help my kids form helpful habits while they’re still in the home and prepare them to avoid making harmful or costly mistakes in the future. On the other, I don’t want them to believe that their worth is dependent on never making a mistake (i.e. that making a mistake makes them worthless).

I want to teach them ahead of time why certain things are important and others are harmful, but I also want to be centered and resilient enough myself to not overreact when they do make a mistake, are careless, or exhibit different values than mine.

Can I show love and acceptance even when disagreeing with or disapproving of their behavior? Can I trust the process–i.e. believe that no setback is final, that we all learn through our mistakes, that working through hard things grows resilience?

Can I convey my confidence in them–in their ability to find what will work well for them?

Probably, I need to be modeling for them every day how to work hard, enjoy life, AND handle disappointment or failure (i.e. by admitting mistakes, apologizing, making restitution, seeking help/mentors, etc.). To experience emotion but not be ruled by it; to try to understand even while experiencing fear, anger, or disappointment.

Do my kids know they can do hard things? Do they know how to seek and offer help as part of a “team”?

I need to be exploring with my kids what it is to be human. Talking about it. What works for us; what doesn’t; how to relate to others’ differences; how to have self-compassion.

I read this comment by Psychology Today’s Editor at Large, Hara Estroff Marano, today:

“Parents do want happy children. But they have no idea what real happiness is or how it is achieved. They think it’s the absence of negative or even disquieting feelings. They are terrified their child might spew an ‘I hate you!’ at them.

“Happiness is achieved by the mastering of challenges. There’s excellent neuroscience research on this subject. Happiness is generated when one is struggling to achieve one’s goals and they actually come into view. Ask any CEO…he or she will tell you: All the fun was getting there.

“Happiness comes not from the absence of difficulty but mastery of it…precisely what parents want to remove from their children’s lives. And so you have young people who have never had to figure anything out in their lives, demand certainty in an uncertain world (they want the test questions in advance), and are terrified of failure.”

[end of quote]

I’m inspired! The kids are home for the summer. Time to get off the computer and into the exciting work of trying, enjoying, learning, and sharing.


About Shaunalei

"Peace by Piece" is a storehouse for my exploratory journey of discovery and healing. Feel free to reach me at: shaunalei@codepoet.org.
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