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 grades.”
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.”
reading that sentence, I stopped and pondered the
implications of parental involvement in a child’s life.
Am I too involved? I wondered.
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.
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
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.