Helicopter Parenting – How to Not be Guilty

In the course of one of my countless lost on the Internet sessions, I came across the term “Helicopter Parenting”.

I never considered myself a worrier until I had my son. In fact, I used to think of myself as someone who never got bothered by things, happy go lucky, let’s see how it all goes kinda girl. But since I brought a child into this world, it has been a whole new story entirely. I find myself thinking. Thinking about the future. Will life be kind to him? Is he going to make the right friends? Will he be a bully? Will he be bullied? How will he navigate this world? How will he do in school? Will he choose the right spouse? He hasn’t even started picking his clothes and here I am thinking about his future spouse, I crack myself up sometimes.

The shootings, nuclear weapon tests, genetically modified foods, climate change, drugs on the streets, pedophiles, terrorism, horrible global events. Oh my goodness, too many scary things! Thoughts that can have one break out in cold sweat. It is a scary world we live in these days folks.

I shared these thoughts with my grandma and she laughed. She laughed and told me “Worrying never ends when you become a parent”. Even in her 80’s, she still worries about her kids and prays for them all the time. So I have decided to not let the worry drive me, to focus on each day as it comes, take many pictures, learn so I can impart knowledge to my son and do my best to raise him right.

Our mothers worried about us and we turned out alright, didn’t we?

Motherhood Heart Outside Body causes helicopter parenting
The Clueless Homemaker

You see, I came across the quote in the image way before I started having kids but never truly understood it. Being responsible for the well-being of someone else, brings a new perspective to things and I can definitely understand why and how parents begin to worry so much and become helicopter parents.

Helicopter Parenting

With all the worrying, I came across the term “Helicopter Parenting”. From the name alone, you can figure out what it means and don’t you just dislike those? Helicopter parents are those who do not give their kids any breathing space and are all up in the children’s business, stifling them, controlling them and overseeing every facet of the innocent children’s lives. Nobody likes those, not even the kids they do everything for. Supervising their activities is good but actively taking over things they should be doing themselves, not so good.

One example is when they bring homework to you for assistance. You should take the role of a teacher, help them understand the questions and figure out solutions. What is not okay, is taking over their pencils, pens or crayons and solving the questions yourself. That is major helicopter parenting.

When I was a child, we had an abundance of freedom. We were left alone to hang out with neighbours, climb trees, play with sand. I remember jumping rope with my cousins and trying to see who could skip the highest. We would go up to a thousand skips and still have the strength for more. Little wonder, we were skinny, fit and super healthy, right? As an adult, I can’t try to use the skipping rope without going on of breath like someone who just escaped a lion. Sigh.

These days though, the kids are now known as “Omo Get Inside”, children of the Get Inside generation. This is because they are called back indoors before they can even unpack their toys or start a race with other kids around. Can we blame the parents? No. Adults of this age have seen way too many kidnap cases for children to be left alone to roam the neighbourhood as they please.

Helicopter parenting leads to micromanaging. If you have had any work experience where your superiors micromanaged you and your tasks, you’d agree with me that you started to feel resentment and didn’t give out your best in that job. This is because the constant pressure suppresses your skills and any joy you might have had in the job.Same situation with kids, they thrive and flourish in a well balanced, secure environment without the constant pressure of helicopter parenting. A study says “Children with overcontrolling parents may later struggle to adjust in school and social environments” More details here

How to Stop Helicopter Parenting

1. Don’t make the kids your sole focus

We get it, you love your child to the moon and back, you cannot imagine a world without them being within 100 metres of you. Here’s the thing, your baby is an individual, her own person. With every passing day, the inevitability of her leaving home draws closer. You left your parents to live your own life and start your own family, your child would do the same someday. Isn’t this what we all hope for? An independent, well-adjusted child, able to handle life and thrive at it.

By all means, love and nurture your child but don’t lose yourself, don’t lose your individuality while raising your kids.

2. Let them do things themselves

At a certain age, your child can feed himself, pick up toys, do his homework, zip his pants and many age appropriate tasks. You’d notice your child trying to do some of these things himself and even protesting when you try to do it for him. Let them! Leave your kids to do things as long as those things are safe and appropriate. Nobody expects you to leave a 5 year old to go to the supermarket alone but she can certainly put clothes in the laundry basket.

When you let them do these little things, you’re teaching them responsibility and independence.

3. Let them take responsibility and handle consequences

There is a school on the same street I lived previously so I sometimes got to experience some helicopter parenting in action. Parents yelling at teachers for certain corrective actions teachers took. Teachers are in control of your kids at school and should be able to dish out consequences to naughty behavior by the kids in their care, sensible consequences. Not physical assault or causing any bodily harm though.

As they say “It takes a village to raise a child”. This means parents are not solely responsible for the upbringing of a child, the society and immediate environment also have an impact on how your child turns out.

Helicopter parenting tips
It takes a village to raise a child…

Don’t jump in to defend them any time they need to take responsibility for their actions.

4. Have your own work, hobbies and activities

When you have other things occupying your mind and taking your time, it becomes easier for you to take that extra pressure off your child. This extra focus on children is probably the foundation for Mother in law vs Daughter in law wahala (problems). Start a business, write a book, take swimming lessons, join a society in your church, do anything that will grow you, really. Bottom line, fill up your free time with activity that excites, stimulates or improves you. You’ll have no time for helicopter parenting or micromanaging a child’s life.

This is also how you don’t grow old and begin to wonder where all the time went.

Finding Balance

We need to know and accept that our kids are individuals with personalities, characteristics, goals and desires of their own. They are unique in their own way and will make their own path in life. As parents, we do not OWN our children, we can actually be likened to custodians of them. It is, however, our duty to raise them right, raise them to be the kind of people we would like to be friends or have relationships with. And succeed we shall!

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