How Involved is Too Involved?
By Mary Byers
I have an article
from the associated press in front of me titled, “Hovering parents irk
colleges.” The first sentence reads, “They’re called ‘helicopter
parents,’ for their habit of hovering—hyper-involved—over their
children’s lives. Here at Colgate University, as elsewhere, they have
become increasingly bold in recent years, telephoning administrators
to complain about their children’s housing assignments, roommates and
The article quotes
Helen Johnson, author of Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money,
a guide for college parents, who writes, “This is a group of
parents who have been more involved in their children’s development
since any generation in American History.”
After reading that
sentence, I stopped and pondered the implications of parental
involvement in a child’s life. Am I too involved? I wondered.
Since then, I’ve
actively been seeking opportunities to help each of my children take
responsibility for themself. It’s tough, but I try not to
remind them when their library books or due, or ask if their homework
is done. Instead, I’m trying to teach them to ask themselves the
questions they need to ask. Before bed, I want them to ask, Have I
done everything I need to do to prepare for tomorrow? In the
morning before leaving for school I want them to ask, Are my
morning chores done? Do I have everything I need for school today?
It’s much better that they get into the habit of asking those
questions now, even though it is hard for me to let go enough to let
them do it.
Part of the reason
that it’s hard to let go is that I want to matter to my kids. But
after thinking about it, I’ve decided I want to matter to them because
I’m their mother, not because they need me to remind them to do their
homework or grab their lunch on the way out the door. I’m making a
hard decision now: I want to matter in my kids’ lives, but I don’t
want to be a “helicopter parent.” I also don’t want to be a garbage
sweeper, trailing behind them picking up the messes they make.
Instead, I’d like to be a sidecar, like on a motorcycle, riding
alongside my children as a companion and encourager.
The decisions we
make today determine our children’s future success in life. Decide
what kind of parent you want to be. Then, have the courage to be it.
Sign up to receive Mary's monthly ezine at
© 2005-2014 FamilyTymes.org - All Rights Reserved