Of course everyone hovers a bit … don’t we? A parent is a guide, a teacher, the first line of instruction for a child. And, that makes it tricky. We begin as a guide and don’t always know where to draw the line. Becoming enmeshed, we move beyond the quick fly by, and ultimately stall directly over our children’s lives, touching down once, then again, and again, and again …
We can’t change our behavior if we don’t admit we hover. An Irish Proverb suggests “The wearer best know where the shoe pinches.” You know best what situations bring out your ‘copter side. Triggers are different for all of us. What’s yours?
You might be a ‘copter parent if …
- You panic when you forget to sign your child’s elementary school assignment notebook, so you quickly drive to school to meet his school bus as he arrives and get it signed. He’ll get marked down if you don’t, but forgetting is really your fault.
- You keep your cell phone – volume on – next to your bed, just in case your college student texts in the middle of the night. There may be an emergency and it doesn’t matter how far away your child is, you’re available to help.
- All your children are either gifted or misunderstood. All of them.
- You call another parent requesting that her son ask your daughter to dance during the next school mixer. It’s no big deal, your daughter has a crush on the boy and is too shy to ask.
- Your married child calls home every day, because if she doesn’t, you’ll call her. It’s harder to keep in touch after they’ve moved away and married.
- You immediately know the cumulative GPA impact of the semester grade your child receives in Language Arts. College application time is drawing near and this could make or break his acceptance.
- Every adult at your child’s school knows your name, and they duck and cover when you approach.
- You craft special Christmas decorations for your college freshman, drive them to the university, and help decorate his dorm room. Your college student’s energy needs to be focused on classes, but shouldn’t he also have fun?
- You use cell phone GPS to locate your children every time they leave the house … because safety is important.
- You report minor misconduct to the coach, especially misconduct of the player who was unfairly given your child’s starting position. Team rules exist for a purpose.
- You have your child’s friends’ cell phone numbers in your cell phone …. and you use them. We are all friends, aren’t we?
- Your child wins every fundraising sales contest at school, because you’re just trying to help the school raise money. The prize and recognition really don’t matter.
To some extent, each hovering depends on your child’s needs. But, for almost all of these situations, you’ve likely indulged in a flight too far. When T.S. Eliot suggested “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go,” he surely didn’t have helicopter parents in mind.
The first step in safely landing is recognizing that you fly. Do you need a little help to facilitate a gentle landing?
I’m a recovering ‘copter mom. (Though, really, I’m not as bad as THOSE parents. Yes. I know. That’s what we all think.)
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