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Helicopter Parenting

By Anne Roe

I find myself frequently muttering to myself, “Turn off the helicopter.”

“Helicopter parenting” is a term used to describe parents who are overly focused on their kids. Let’s be honest: it is not a flattering term. Like all things, there is probably a continuum of sorts: one side is hyper-focused and the other not focused enough.

I’m certain I’ve partaken in the helicopter portion of parenting. I mean, I most likely did when my kids were babies, as everyone should? I probably did while I was trying to get one kid through a cancer diagnosis. Surely, that’s OK? Regardless of the fact that I am not certain where parenting an infant or parenting a kid with a life-threatening illness is just parenting, as opposed to helicopter parenting, one thing has become clear. My “kids” are now 15 and 13. Whether or not I did or do helicopter parent, it is clear to me that my job right now is to turn off the helicopter. So clear, that I say it aloud to myself most days.

A wise mentor in our life always tells us that in the history of the world, 13-year-old boys were married men providing for wives and children. What, what, what? Part of me wants to ignore the history lesson, but thankfully the Holy Spirit intervenes and reminds me to listen to those around me who are wiser.

While this is not 1776 or 1910, our 13 and 15-year-old boys are more capable than we expect or allow them to be. I’m recognizing that there are areas in their life that I need to let be. I have a strong desire to encourage, equip, and teach them to problem-solve. It is super challenging to feel like God designed me to be that way and yet these young men will actually never grow to be men if their mama doesn’t get out of the way.

I don’t have the perfect how-to strategy. Some days I do this well and other days I fail wildly. Here is what’s working. I’m growing in my dependence on God. This really great pastor I know always reminds me that God loves my kids most. I am certain of how much I love my kids and if God loves them most, well, that’s a lot of love. Surely, the Lord has them and I trust Him to handle the plans he has for my young men. I am praying for my men with more fervor than I ever have in their life. I’m watching them mess up. Thankfully, most of the mess-ups are minor. I’m also watching them sort it out. Of course, I would sort it out better, but alas, they have to figure out their own way. I’m looking for people who have actually raised 150-pound humans and begging them to give me some best practices. And then I’m trying to speak to the mamas who are raising the tiny 15 pound humans about life after diapers and sippy cups. We need to encourage those behind us and look to those ahead of us for help.

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

I’m thankful for a community of people who seek the Lord on behalf of me, my husband, and my kids. We were not meant to do life alone; we are stronger together. God’s word reminds us of this. If you don’t have people in your life to stand with you like a triple-braided cord, I would encourage you to do two things. First, pray and ask God for wise people to stand with you. Next, go stand with someone else. Go stand back-to-back with some other parents and see what it is like to lean on other people’s wisdom and experience. You may not know all of the things, but I’m certain you know at least one. Share that. Let God use that. I trust He will use that to make you and others stronger.

When we rely on God’s strength and the strength of His people, our attention can be best focused on who God is instead of who we want our kids to be. Let’s turn off the helicopter. Let’s trust the Lord with our kids. He does love them most.