Yes, I will admit it. I was once a Helicopter parent.
You know, the mom that brings the lunch, homework, gym shorts and school identification card to school when her child forgets. I remember when my oldest daughter became a teenager and wanted to hang out with friends. I was there escorting her from the movie theater to the pizza restaurant across the street. I honestly feared that my thirteen year old child could not cross the street properly. And I did all of this in the name of protecting her. I wanted to give her existence more structure than I had when I was growing up, as I grew up in a permissive household where the kids made their own rules.
But what I did not realize is that all of my attempts to protect my child and help to structure her life actually prevented my child from growing up and learning some valuable lessons along the way.
Recently, I was quoted on Abc.com about the ups and downs of being a Helicopter parent. What the writer chose to publish shocked me, but it also gave me another perspective. I am fortunate that my parenting did not interfere with the overall development of my oldest daughter. My oldest daughter Ariel, is an intelligent and wise young lady that is enjoying her first year in college. Now that she is off to school, I have reflected on the lessons that I learned about my parenting over the years. These lessons will guide me in being a better parent with my younger daughters.
Here are a few changes that I decided to make, and you can implement too:
- Allow your child to fail– Arm them with the right tools such as alarm clocks, running shoes and lunch money, etc. But if they forget them or don’t use them, let them fail. Allow them to be put in a position where they have to accept the consequences. Failure has valuable lessons that we carry into our adult lives. Failure teaches us how to correct our mistakes. Failure teaches us how to pick ourselves up and start again. Let them fail…. Please.
- Reward Excellence- We live in a world where we reward mediocrity. We cheer kids on because they are playing the game, not because they are the best or were at the top of their group. But the truth is, if you don’t practice and if you are not dedicated, you will not rise to the top of a sport or your class. Success comes with dedication and being consistent in your practice. Teach your kids this lesson by rewarding their dedication and their excellence, and they will continue to excel beyond what you thought possible.
- Get a life- Yes, I said it. Many helicopter parents, including my husband and I, spent way too much time following our kids around. We forgot about ourselves completely. So today, I give you permission to get your life back. You will still be a great parent, but now you will also be an example of how to have a balanced life and happy marriage for your kids.
Now parents, I have to tell you that becoming a reformed helicopter parent is not easy. Just today I noticed that my middle child left her school Identification at home. Ooooh, how I wanted to drop it off so that her day would flow a little easier. But I reminded myself, as I am reminding you now, that she will make it through today. Tonight she will pre-pack her bag with her identification and learn the valuable lesson that preparation is necessary to achieve success.
She will learn this lesson because I allowed her to suffer a consequence. She will learn a lesson that will help her in the future. And this lesson will help her to become her own person and to be able to deal with the challenges life throws her way, making her a much more successful person along the way.
BMWK- What are your thoughts on this issue? How are you helping your kids learn life lessons as they grow?