What’s So Bad About Helicopter Parenting Anyway?

Purposeful Parent Tip:  The Trick is Knowing When to Fly Low

As I write this blog, I am processing the fact that my son did not make his freshman basketball team. He just called and told me the news. It took all I had not to cry as this was a huge disappointment. We were all looking forward to him playing on the team and he saw this as the first step in his NBA career.

His first words of “I don’t care” could not have been more opposite to how he was truly feeling and all I wanted to do was reach through the phone and hug him. The heaviness of his voice was palpable through the phone line as he spoke of his friends who made the team. I can’t imagine how that must feel not having ever played a team sport, but I do know what it’s like to be disappointed. I’ve had lots of practice in that game.

After we hung up, my first response was to see if I could “fix it” by arranging for him to talk to someone at the school to help him work through this disappointment in a positive way. I was ready to hit the ‘send’ button, when something stopped me. Is talking to a social worker the best solution for him? Or for me? Who is going to feel better? Him in that he’d be able to process the news and handle it or I in that I would’ve “fixed” it for him?

As I hit the ‘cancel’ button on the email, I realized that it might be best for me to ‘butt out’ on this one and let him figure this one out for himself. Lord knows, there will be many more disappointments and mom won’t always be there to lift him back up again. It’s a tough life lesson, but one that must be learned.

But here’s the kicker. What’s the difference between helicopter parenting and helping your child? While I suspect my almost-sent email leaned more towards the whirly bird style of parenting, my intentions were noble.  Fix it and help him feel better.

Despite my disdain for flying, I seem to excel at parental helicopter maneuvers. Some people say helicopter parents have a need to control and that is why they orchestrate every step their child takes. I’m not sure that’s the case for me and my low-flying tactics. I think it is rather that I don’t want my kids to make the same mistakes I made or worse, feel as badly as I felt when situations didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. Of course, I realize there’s no real way to prevent any of that and they must live their own lives.

Well, my head says that.

Bottom line is that my heart broke just a little bit for my son this morning. And sometimes as a mom, you just want to make it “all better.”

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