Advice Column, Parenting

We Choose to Hover

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My husband and I have live under constant scrutiny for our helicopter parenting style. Not only don’t other parents understand, but many of them don’t even care to try. Just like the extra effort needed to stay involved in their children’s lives, it isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it.

Please don’t misunderstand and think that we intend to bash those parenting styles that don’t mimic our own, we don’t. The truth is that we feel everyone has a right to decide what works best for their family. Children prosper when they are part of a tight knit family that recognizes their importance to the family unit and humanity. Regardless of your parenting style choices, the most important thing to remember is that we are all doing what we feel is best.

We take great pride in attending to our daughter’s every need. The amount of involvement hasn’t lessened as she’s grown, it’s just changed. Staying involved in all aspects of your children’s lives is exhausting, heart-wrenching, and difficult. Let me also say it’s loving, caring and highly rewarding. Helicopter Parents know the best thing for our children is guidance. We tell them what is expected, we show them, we make sure it is done and we discuss how they handled the situation. This differs from the “free range” parenting style, which promotes freedom from worry as children navigate life. Just as we seem overprotective to lenient parents, we feel they are neglectful and risky. The tasks are the same; however the way we allow them to be accomplished is very different.

Helicopter Parents are described as over-parenting their children by paying extremely close attention; harming them in the process. Aren’t we supposed to know what goes on in our children’s lives? If hovering is so wrong, then why do many children feel the need to garner attention from us? We believe it’s because they aren’t getting it at home. Their parents believe that limited guidance builds character. In contrast, we impart knowledge. Why should they suffer through the tribulations without being taught what to do?

We disagree that Helicopter Parenting harms our children. Our teenager enjoys a wonderful loving bond with her parents and extended family. Most children her age aren’t speaking to their parents. She knows we support her; admittedly, this support is unsolicited most of the time. She can rely on us as we head into more serious topics such as driving and sex. As she matures, she leans on us less; we view this as success. She has the tools necessary to circumvent precarious situations. We treat her respectfully and with dignity; the naysayers forget this when condemning our style. We don’t restrict her rights, free will or beliefs.

In short, she didn’t raise herself while we stood on the sidelines hoping for the best. We made a conscious choice to involve ourselves. Kids grow up all too soon, let’s not be so fast to push them into this great big world alone.

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