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Challenge: Life Changes

Helicopters & Parenting

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I’ve been called a Helicopter Parent. When I first heard the term I had to take a moment to visually understand the phrase, “Ahhh you mean a parent that hovers?”

I now think the term is comical and I am not insulted by being given the label. If it means I am involved in my children’s lives, albeit. What is funny to me are the different sides people take on the topic. I didn’t know it was a debate. It reminds me of the age-old quarrel regarding working moms versus stay at home moms. I am not taking sides on that one today but this Helicopter Parent thing makes me laugh.

Am I a Helicopter Parent?

I do not do my children’s laundry. I do not pack their suitcases. I do not fight their battles. I listen, give advice (not always asked for) and certainly co-vent with them. I do not call teachers to ask for my children’s grades to increase or for them to advocate that they get chosen for a role in a play or on a team.I do not call people to intervene on my children’s behalves.Okay, once I did that and it was awesome, appreciated, and things really turned out well.Does that make me a Helicopter Parent?

Having been a member of the mom club for over 28 years, I have come to realize there are all types of moms and the definition of a Helicopter Parent varies depending upon whom you speak to. I don’t know if the term completely fits me especially when I see how some of my peers behave. I can’t call out all their behaviors for fear they will not appreciate it, but let’s say I have not even thought about doing half of the things these parents have done!

Wikipedia reports that a Helicopter Parent gets very involved with their children’s academics.Others say that Helicopter Parents are obsessed with their children’s credentials. I don’t know, doesn’t sound like me.But when it comes to being what we fondly term, the quintessential Jewish Mom, I’m all for claiming that title. Though I do fall short when it comes to being an awesome cook and so far I haven’t been a matchmaker for anyone of my kids – though I am not opposed to that!

Studies on Helicopter Parenting: How Do Helicoptered Children Turn Out?

In 2012, University of Texas Psychologist Karen Fingerman and her colleagues decided to actually study ‘Helicopter Parenting’ as did the Council on Contemporary Families whose mission is to provide the latest research and best practice findings about families.

According to the findings presented by Dr. Fingerman and her team, the children whose parents provided them with intense support experienced better outcomes. Helicoptered children actually had higher life satisfaction and more clearly defined goals.

Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families, sees a bonus to Helicopter Parenting that is becoming more obvious as time goes on.She reports it is “the enduring friendship often forged between the generations, in contrast to the ‘generation gap’ of old.” The study found that the increased closeness between parents and children is found among the healthiest children rather than the ones who are categorized as unhealthy. Parents who are very involved and unconditionally supportive have children who reach adulthood with a better sense of self and with a greater satisfaction of their lives.

Don’t Leave the House Without a Sweater

I want my children to succeed but it is more important for them to be healthy and happy.I love when they feel accomplished and I worry excessively when something appears to be off.Okay, so that one is a biggie.I worry too much.And then yes, I wonder if it will take years off my life. But then I go back to worrying about them -- now and in the future.I am trying to worry less.

I learned from my mother and her mother before her that we should never leave the house without a sweater. It really helps if you have a water bottle and snacks with you too.

Maybe I’m a Helicopter Parent or maybe I take rides in that awesome machine every now and then.I have learned with every label there can be crazy extremes, but a healthy dose of hovering and worrying, and remembering to take a sweater, isn’t so bad.

The desire to fly is human, but the desire to hover is divine! ~ Unknown

Michele Fried, 2016

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