There are many, many different schools of parenting – including people who don’t follow any particular school of thought at all, but instead pick and choose, or just go with their instincts.
While movements like the one behind free-range parenting have been gaining more popularity in the past decade, you’ll doubtless have noticed that more strict methodologies – like tiger parents, or helicopter parents – are still alive and well in the suburbs.
And listen, I get it. Every mother gets it – the world is a terrifying place, and the instinct to protect your child every moment of every day, from every known and unknown actor, is strong.
Most of us realize, though, that wouldn’t produce the best possible environment to raise a child – or the best possible child to come out of it. Speaking on your kid’s behalf, intervening with coaches and teachers when they don’t ask you to, and fighting their battles has all been shown to cause lower self-esteem, self-confidence issues, and to struggle with anxiety and depression.
If you’re trying to shake some of your helicopter parent tendencies, we’ve got some advice from the experts.
1. Watch the Physical Hovering
If you find yourself hovering next to your child’s desk while they log into Zoom, loitering near the field while a coach is giving feedback, or anything similar, it’s time to take a literal step back.
Trust your kid to ask for help if they need it; if they don’t, assume the teacher or coach has things under control.
2. Get a Hobby
One of the best ways to stop doing one thing is to start doing another.
You’ll have less time to obsess over how your kid is doing 24/7 if you’ve got something else to focus on – so pick up that old hobby and have some fun!
3. Get Organized
Helicopter parents are often natural Type A planners, and good news! You can channel those natural instincts into something productive.
Instead of hovering and obsessing, make a list of things you think your kids can do for themselves, and sketch out a timeline of how you plan to get them there.
Kids need independence and independent play – it’s essential to their development – so find a way to incorporate it into your days.
4. Risk vs. Reward
Chris Drew, a university professor, told Scary Mommy that it’s our job as parents to encourage our kids to become independent risk-takers.
“Next time your child strikes out on their own, ask yourself: What is the worst-case scenario, and what are the potential benefits? If the worst case is a grazed knee or five minutes of tears, then that’s not a bad tradeoff for the self-confidence and self-management skills that your child may get from the experience. If we don’t let our children take measured risks and be independent, we’re doing them a disservice.”
5. Listen to Your Kid
Most kids, especially as they get older, will tell you when they’re tired of your hovering. Go ahead and admit to them that you know it’s your issue, not theirs, but that you’re trying to let go of being so involved in their lives.
If they’re old enough and can be respectful and thoughtful about it, it’s ok to give them permission to ask you to back off a little.
So, there you go!
Like everything that goes along with parenting, all of this is easier said than done – but I know you can do it!
We all want the best for our kids, even if that means we have to let them go and watch from the sidelines. That’s where we were always meant to be, anyway.