The Helicopter Mom

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Am I a helicopter mom? Sadly, I think by definition I may be a bit so.

helicopter parent: a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.
“some college officials see all this as the behavior of an overindulged generation, raised by helicopter parents and lacking in resilience”
Origin:1980s: from the notion of the parent ‘hovering like a helicopter’ over the child or children.

I do not spoil my children, but I do hover a bit. I want them to make good choices and sometimes I watch like a hawk, ready to intervene should there by foul play, yet praying that I won’t have to do so. I really want them to be leaders and independent, but I don’t think I’m enabling to be very self-sufficient. They are seven and four years old, so I have time to improve. I want them to fail and learn to recover from that failure. I want them to succeed and feel proud that that accomplishment was all theirs. I want them to be resilient and resourceful. I want to be their coach and steer them toward being safe and making smart choices, but not dictate their every move.

Right now I don’t think they have much freedom. I don’t yet feel comfortable letting them roam the neighborhood and play for hours unattended like I did. How do I give my children more room to be free and independent in today’s world? I was quite a bit more independent at the age of my now seven-year-old. This week I’m going to look for ways an opportunities to let my kids stretch their wings. Things that come to mind:

  • Letting them earn money through chores and then letting them pay for things themselves at the register.
  • Letting them go to the bathroom by themselves at some safe public places (restaurants, my gym).
  • Eventually letting them go to the bus stop for school by themselves if they want that option.
  • Preparing the fridge and pantry with easy, healthy choices so they can get drinks and snacks by themselves.
  • Setting high expectations and pushing me and them out of our comfort-zones.
  • Remembering to be their coach, not their micro-manager.

What do you do to avoid being too helicopter-y and to let your kids feel empowered to do things on their own, yet safely?