Help for Helicopter Parents
Another year is beginning for school children. As parents, we want the best for our children and want our children to succeed. The love of parents is deep. The need to protect our children is an innate response. If someone is physically harming our children, we cannot and must not stand by and allow them to be injured. But what about the emotional and mental harm we worry about every day? What should parents do? And what about the times we feel they are being mistreated? What do we do? How do we handle the situation?
As a retired teacher, and mother of three, and one who has been there, let me offer some insight and suggestions. I understand the heartbreak when my child cried about being mistreated by another student. I understand the pain of knowing my child was left out, at play. And I know the feeling that a teacher is mistreating my child. I want you to know I have been there. I also want you to know, as teacher, I saw another side of the situation. I saw students manipulate their parents, especially their mothers. I witnessed children who lost respect for their parents. And I saw the outcome when parents jumped to conclusions and constantly sided with their children.
Let’s focus on the children
I encourage parents to stop and consider what you want for your children. Do you want children who are expecting you to always handle their problems? Do you want children who feel they are incapable of taking care of their own problems? Do you want children to be afraid they are making the wrong decisions, and depend on you to make all of their decisions? OR do you want children who are secure, confident, and independent? Do you want children who are not afraid to be leaders? Do you want children who make mistakes, but learn from them and discover how to correct them?
What about us, the parents?
A lot of times there is something in us, as parents, which causes us to want our children to be little, to need us, and to look to us for advice. This is a need we have, not a need of our children.
Do we have a need for our children to ask for our advice before making any decisions? Do we have a need to protect our children from ever failing? Do we need to be sure our children are never mistreated? Are we afraid of making the wrong decision and being considered a failure as a parent? Are we afraid of our children making a wrong decision and missing out on an opportunity, or having to suffer the unpleasant consequences of their decision?
I have no doubt that helicopter parents love their children. In fact, it is this deep love that causes us to want to protect our children. We don’t want our children to suffer in any way if we can prevent it. Solving another problem or diverting a hurtful failure might make us and our children feel good, for the time being. Unfortunately, we are not helping our children when we do this.
Let’s examine some potential problems children and parents face
We all need to understand, there is not one person who goes through life without disappointments, hurt feelings, and being mistreated or misjudged. Life is hard, our children need to experience disappoints and letdowns. If they experience these while they are young and still under our care, we can help them through these times, and assure them that any disappointment or failure in the future is hard, but they will get through. We must equip them for the world, or they will fall when they encounter a problem, we cannot solve for them. Protecting them when they are young is only pushing the problem down the road. We are not helping them by not allowing them to stand on their own two feet and take some bruises along the way. Only life experiences can teach them, they will encounter hard time, but they will get through it and they will be fine. If we deprive them of this valuable learning experience, we are cheating them of becoming confident in handling life as an adult.
What about when a teacher or another adult accuses our children of something we feel, they did not do, or they may be completely innocent. Take time to pray and investigate the situation before jumping to your child’s defense. There will be times when the teacher made a mistake, but there will times when your child did something wrong. I encourage you to investigate the situation fully. Meet with your child and teacher together. Allow each to explain the circumstances and the problem. Remember, you know your child better than anyone else. Consider if it is possible that your child could be at fault. What kind of behavior do you see at home and with other children? If your child is at fault, you should not be surprised. But what if your child is completely innocent? What should you do? What are the consequences? More importantly, what is the lesson you want to teach your child? What if the tears start flowing, and your child complains that life isn’t fair?
Was life fair to Jesus? Our hearts should suffer more for the mistreatment of Jesus than an injustice of our children.
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. John 1:11 (CSB)
When he had said these things, one of the officials standing by slapped Jesus, saying, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
“If I have spoken wrongly,” Jesus answered him, “give evidence about the wrong; but if rightly, why do you hit me?” John 18:22-23 (CSB)
Bullying is much different; I will address it in a separate post.
Suggestions for Parents
- Allow children to handle their problems as much as possible.
- Listen as they explain the problem. Try to understand both sides of the problem.
- Discuss with your children ways they deal with the situation.
- Be prepared for disappointments and even tears.
- Assure them they will survive this problem and be fine.
- Assure them you will be there for them if the problem gets too big for them but allow them the opportunity to handle it on their own first.
- Do not handle every problem for your children, they must learn to be independent of you. This will build their confidence in themselves and help them mature.
- Share with them stories from the Bible when people were mistreated and how they dealt with and how God helped them. The story of Job is a good lesson of someone not deserving of the bad things that happened, but never stopped believing in God.
- Talk to them everyday to let them know you are concerned. Be ready to step in if the problem turns into bullying or if they are not able to cope with the situation, after they have tried. Keep communication open until the problem is resolved.
- After the problem or situation has passed let them know how proud you are of them for the way they handled the problem and let them know you have been praying for them the entire time.
Just as each child is different, each situation is different. It is hard to know when to act when our children are being mistreated. Parents must weigh the consequences and pray before making a decision.
There are times, the answer is simple, but it’s harder for the parents than it is for the children.
Below are some scenarios where parents should let their children handle without intervening. This is more difficult for the parents than the children. Parents should stay strong and allow their children to grow wings to be able to soar one day.
*If child forgot lunch —DO NOT TAKE IT TO THEM. THEY WILL NOT STARVE. It will make them responsible. This should not be a parent responsibility.
What if child forgot to have permission slip for field trip that is today? DO NOT RUN TO THE SCHOOL AND SIGN IT. Children will be disappointed if they are the only one not going, but they will never let it happen again. They will understand they are responsible, not parents or teachers. By letting them learn the hard way, they are not likely to let it happen again.
What if child forgot an assignment that was due today, or their grade would be cut? DO NOT TAKE IT TO THEM. A grade dropping is their responsibility. If there are consequences with this grade, they must face them.
If your child loses at a ballgame or other sport. Parents should never be a poor sport. If there was a bad call, it should be accepted with dignity and grace. It’s easy to win, but it takes character to lose, and it is up to parents to display that and teach it. At no time is it acceptable to blame someone else. Passing the blame is a sign of immaturity and insecurity.
Anything they forgot or did not do, is their problem. Do not rob them of the opportunity to grow into an independent person. Children must be handed the responsibility of preparing for school and having the materials they need. These are hard lessons for the parents. The children survive well and they thrive. It usually only takes one bad experience for children to learn their responsibilities. Parents who jump and come rescue, never allow their children to grow, they are enjoying the feeling of being needed at the cost of children feeling confident and secure.
Bullying – do not allow your children to become victims of bullies. This is repeated behavior, and intentional.
What if the weather is looking bad and there might be a chance of school getting out early? This is definitely the responsibility of the parents. Children should never be given the responsibility of notifying parents of changes in plans. Parents should have a plan of action set ahead of time. Children should know what to do in the event of changes to plans.
Christian Parenting Today
New Book: An Inside Look At Education is here!!
Our new book titled An Inside Look at Education, What No One Told Us and How It Is Impacting Our Children will be out in October 2021. In this book we expose the inside of the education in the US. Examining the truth behind our education system will provide parents with the information they need to help their children succeed.
If you are interested in having us, come for a public appearance and book signing, please email us, and we will try to accommodate as many requests as possible. Please feel free to email for more information or answers to any questions.
Recommended Reading for October
Our book recommendation this month is Wired by Richard Freed, Ph.D. Wired Child is one of the most illuminating books on the subject of technology and children. Freed not only exposes many of the dangers of technology, but he uses the book to reveal problems many parents never considered. Freed uses his experiences as a child and adolescent psychologist to share real problems parents encounter, in today’s world.
Bible Passage for October
In this passage we see how much God loves us and cares for us. We are encouraged that God will renew our strength when we feel weak. He will be there when we feel no one cares. I love the phrase “there is not limit to his understanding.” He knows our problems and understands our needs.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never becomes faint or weary, there is no limit to his understanding. He gives strength to the faint and strengthens the powerless. Youths may become faint and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-30
All of our dates for September 2021 have been filled. If your group would like us to come and conduct a seminar, please contact us. We have included a link to our brochure providing more information about the seminars. Thanks for your continued support of our blog, book, and work at Christian Parenting Today.