Have a child.
Raise a child.
Let child go.
Simple statements that sounds easy enough to parents.
Then life happens.
Slowly there is this pull over time that comes with a child growing up. As they get bigger and move further away from mom, towards their own independence — it’s not all intentionally planned. Majority, I would say is naturally occurred. As a child goes to daycare, or school, and as a child’s time fills up more with homework, chores, and play that is separate from mom. There is this natural independence that takes place.
How can we overcome that inner helicopter parent as this independence occurs?
The parent that worries and clings to the younger version of our children. The one that wants to always keep jr. in arms reach.
… And, it’s not always black and white.
I would say there are days that I LIVE in this area of parenting. Depending on the season and what is happening, I do cling to my children. However, there are other times that I LIVE on the other end of “Shouldn’t you be doing ____ alone already?!”
You can say it. But to live it … it’s hard!
When I’m in helicopter parenting mode:
I worry about if they are prepared enough to leave me and I’ll usually pack WAY too much junk for them to take along for the “just-in-cases”.
I worry about their safety all the time when they are away from me.
I worry about their experiences that they have when they are supervised by someone else other than me, their mom, that knows them better than anyone else in the world (except their dad).
I worry about when they will return. Watching the clock until they get back home. (did I mention I’m a homebody! 🙂 )
You can know that your children should have some life experiences out of their moms arms reach. But there are days though, that it can be so hard to start — especially when in helicopter mode.
Four overcomers to help conquer the worry of your inner helicopter parent.
1)Look back on YOUR childhood
As the look back and your experience (of the good, bad, and the ugly) of independence will be the “colored glasses” that you will have on and raise your child with.
For example: I HATED sleepovers as a child. I loved the idea, but come 9pm and I would be crying on the phone for mom to please come pick me up! So now there are NO sleepovers for my kids — except with grandparents!
2)Start YOU out small
There are no hard fast rules of how much you need to “let go” of your child’s care. Start with what you can handle.
For example: if you are with jr. 24/7 and you do eventually desire for your child to thrive in independence — then start with asking grandma or grandpa or another very trusted friend or family member to watch jr. for the 1-2hr it takes you to go grocery shopping. If you need to pack a bag of jr.’s toys so you can feel prepared (and maybe the place he is going doesn’t have any kids toy’s?!) then pack it! Who cares! At least you have one small step in the right direction.
3)Find a balance for your family
There are SO many “voices” out there (don’t Google it) that will tell you are “Your holding on too tight!”, or “You need to spend more quality time!” You can write out your family routine or mentally think it over. Tallying up jr.’s experiences WITH YOU and AWAY from you during the week. Is it a good balance for your family?
Leave all the other “should” and “could” behind you. If you take the time to intentionally think through what your family is ACTUALLY doing then you will have a good idea if you need to let your child go a little more toward independence or not.
4)Let go of the Guilt
How many times are we caught making parenting decisions from the place of our guilt! SO many times that we might not be aware that our decisions were made in guilt until after the fact.
What about the parents that live in guilt for being both the “helicopter parent” and the “absent parent”?!
I’m a ‘stay at home mom’ and I’ve been at both ends of this spectrum.
Guilt for being the ‘Absent Parent’ – Where I have given them so much independence; as they play outside all morning long in the summertime, then watch tv after lunch. Most of their day would be gone and while they played “around” me I hadn’t spent one on one time with my kids and I would fall asleep those nights feeling SO guilty.
Guilt for being the ‘Helicopter Parent’ – On the other end I’ve said “No” to some outside experiences that were offer to our children deciding it was best to stay home instead. I could be justified that the outside experiences are fine to skip (such as a birthday party or watching movies at a theater) but I would still go to bed feeling guilty that I’ve kept my kids from experiences from the motivation of my worry.
I do know that my guilt and my worry can eat away at me if I let it.
Recently I’ve had that saying of:
“You make the best choice that you can with the information that you have at the time and leave the rest behind.”
While this is taken from my volunteer work. I will be liberally applying it to my parenting.
I CANNOT live in worry and guilt.
While they both may catch up with me, from time to time. (or hour by hour) I’ll make the best choices I can for my children’s independence needs and their needs for me (and hubby) to set their boundaries.
Parenting is something that I could not do without my faith. As the emotionally days, and screw up days, litter the way behind me … and I know before me too, I’ll try to hold this gift of parenting loosely. Taking time to push my children out the door to experience their independence away from me, and taking the time to stand in between the world and my kids and say “no, not right now. My kids can stay home today and just be kids!”
By: Sharon Schuler