When my friend Destiny recently tweeted she was writing a post on helicopter parents I was almost afraid to read it. I was pretty sure the intro would include a photo of me with a propeller on my head followed by a link to this blog.
Except that my friend is not mean, so I was pretty sure knew she wouldn’t do that.
Why Are People Staring at Me?
In many people’s minds, I am probably the very definition of a helicopter parent. I don’t let my babies “cry it out,” don’t vaccinate, co-sleep, and practice extended-breastfeeding, etc. Actually, if you want a really extreme example, I don’t leave Katie in the church nursery because we don’t feel it’s in her best interest to leave her with a new stranger each week. In other words, we are VERY involved, some might say too much.
On the flip side, I rarely intervene in Katie’s conflicts unless it is to correct or discipline her. When a mom offers to cancel a play date because her little one has the sniffles, I tell her we should keep it. Encountering illness is good for Katie’s immune system. It’s how it learns to work.
Encountering difficulties of all kinds is a positive thing in my opinion, and I try not to get in the way. The main thing that makes my style “extreme” is that I insist on myself, my husband or another primary caregiver being present at almost every moment to mentor her through the challenges she faces.
We Learn from the Past and Forge Better Paths
The choices I’m making in parenting are very different from the way I was raised. I have hopes, but not a rock solid conviction, that I am helping Katie become the adult I see in my mind’s eye. It often feels like a crapshoot. I read a parenting book, then another that critiques the first, then another that modifies the second, and finally one more that discredits the last two and takes me back to the first. My goal is clear, my methods are changing.
Katie, when I look at you I see deep empathy, humor, intelligence and wit. When you’re grown, I hope with all my heart that you will love others freely . . . without allowing yourself to be manipulated. I want you to choose what is right because you have learned to love what is good, not because you want to avoid “punishment.” I want you to be free to take risks, and wise enough to know which risks are too foolish to take. I want you to know that your life is a gift to the world. Not in the “thank you for gracing us with your presence, Highness” sense, but in the “pour your heart and life into pursuits that matter” sense. Because you, little one, have a destiny. It is an honor to walk with you in these early years, to try to find the right road together.
Sorry, I just wrote a letter in the middle of my post, didn’t I? Sheesh. I guess what I’m trying to say is that my friend Destiny’s post got me thinking about capital “D” Destiny; i.e., the amazing purpose I now see unfolding for my life, as well as my husband’s and daughter’s lives. When I focus on this it becomes easier to endure some of the daily drudgeries that are a necessary part of the journey.
It has become clear to me that helping my children achieve their destiny is a big part of my own. In order to raise authentic, compassionate, visionary, connected individuals, I have to become one myself. Boy do I have my work cut out for me!!!
So, my question to you is: What traits do you want to see in your adult children? How are you going to instill them? Who do you think you will become in the process?
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