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Selectively Hovering Your Way to Your Child’s Destiny

on May 25 | in Motherhood | by | with 12 Comments

Photo Credit: Cecil Graat

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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12 Responses to Selectively Hovering Your Way to Your Child’s Destiny

  1. i know this doesn’t answer your question, but you bring up an interesting point– so julia and katie can play together when one of them is sick (although i know that katie never gets sick, and julia less and less now that we are living healthier)! i always hate having to follow the rule of keeping her away from other kids when she’s sick, so it’s nice to know someone else out there isn’t afraid of a few germs.
    .-= Joanna Moore´s last blog ..It’s no wonder you’re so patient =-.

    • Heather says:

      Katie DOES get sick. I think breastfeeding is a big factor in her strong immunity, but she’s definitely had some bad days. Before I got pregnant I got really sick one time and she only got a touch of the same thing. All my immunities were passed to her through my milk before they built up in my body to fight the infection. That was one of the best and worst experiences of my life. Best because my body could fight for both of us, worst because it fought for me last ; – ) When I got pregnant and my milk supply dropped she got sick twice almost immediately.

  2. Des says:

    I think parenting is one of THE best journeys and I love blogging because it allows you to see how other people parent and what works best for their families.
    I think you are doing an incredible job with Katie!
    Just because you don’t leave Katie alone in the nursery and I do, doesn’t mean either of us are better, it just means that we are meeting our kids needs in different ways.
    And in the end, that’s the most important thing. Katie is not going to remember half of the things you did when she was growing up and neither will my kids. but it’s the feeling of security and stability and love that will make them into incredible adults.
    .-= Des´s last blog ..Move Over Diet Coke =-.

    • Heather says:

      There are so many trade-offs aren’t there? I remember growing up at Shady Grove West how there were always kids with coloring books in the back row through the sermon. I was talking to a parent about how I wish that was more acceptable in current church culture and she told me about a church where there is one service for all ages. I thought that was really cool until she pointed out that the pastor had to direct his message to the WHOLE audience and sometimes it gets a little boring for the adults. All of a sudden I was rethinking everything. I studied philosophy in college and love advanced concepts so that would REALLY bore me. Right now I wish we had a toddler room with a tv so I could play with Katie and hear the sermon. We have a nursing mothers room but it just doesn’t feel appropriate to use as a rompus room, you know?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I want to believe that both of my children will have much love, compassion , and understanding. I try everyday to teach my children acceptence, love big one…., and compassion for others. We have no clue what others are going through at that time and we as christians need to have patience, love, kindess, and over all I teach them to think like our Father up above. I am probally what you would call a protective mom. I am trying daily ro make my children understand the importance of treating others as we would want to be treated. I think by doing this I will become a better person and find myself closer to my children in a spirtitual, and emotional way. Raising children I find is not as easy as some think you have to keep in mind they want to be just like us and setting the examlpe is sometimes hard. We as moms are doing the hardest job on earth molding the future so we have a much more loving and healthier life for them to live!
    .-= Amber Parker´s last blog ..Niji Sushi Restaurant – Medan Putra, Bandar Sri Menjalara =-.

    • Heather says:

      Love your thoughts on this, Amber. I never thought much about cultivating personal traits like patience and kindness until I became a parent. I wish I had started much earlier, but parenting is definitely a crash course in . . . well, patience and kindness!

  4. Whittney says:

    Speaking of coloring books…..where do you all find fun ones without all the Dora, Elmo, etc…characters? I have yet to find a coloring book I really like for Avery.

    • Heather says:

      No idea, Whittney. Katie received several coloring books from her grandparents for Christmas that have all the Disney princesses in them. Due to her deprived childhood she has no idea what a Disney princess is yet so I’m not overly worried about branding. If it becomes an issue I’ll probably check out a local teacher’s supply shop and see what they have.

    • Nancy says:

      I’m not sure about the coloring books, but we’ve loved the Usborne sticker books, which are available for younger and older kids. You can buy them through home-based sellers — if you look up Usborne and your community, you’ll find someone who sells them.

  5. What you describe about yourself is NOT what I call helicopter parenting! I do all those things, too. But I am a far cry from a helicopter parent. To me, a helicopter parent isn’t the opposite of an involved parent, they’re the opposite of a free-range parent (see http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/).

    A free-range parent believes in preparing their kids to handle life with prudence, but WITHOUT FEAR. They teach their kids how to handle sticky situations, equipping them to cope so that the parent doesn’t always have to be involved. They’re not so afraid of kidnappers and nasty child molesters that they won’t let their children play in the front yard or at a neighbor’s house. They teach their kids how to talk to strangers, to ask for help, etc. rather than instilling them with a sense of fear and dread when it comes to interacting with the public. A Free-Range Kid is a kid who gets treated as a smart, young, capable individual, not an invalid who needs constant attention and help.

    What does that look like for me, when my children are so young? Well, for starters, we let our boys take physical risks. We actually taught them how to climb up (AND DOWN!) trees so that they can do it without fear. We let them jump off high things (usually no taller than their own height) so that they can do THAT without fear. We let them strike up conversations with strangers so that they can learn that, in general, people are kind and watching out for them. There’s more that goes into it, but you get the idea.

    The main thing here is that we are trying to raise responsible, confident children who believe in themselves and their ability to cope with life. They see a challenge and think: FUN! instead of OH NO!

    Do bad things happen? Yes. But, hopefully, I’m raising children who will have enough self-confidence and smarts to cope with or overcome the bad things when they happen.

    On the contrary, a helicopter parent believes their child is so vulnerable — to injury, to teasing, to disease and disappointment — that they have to sort of hover over the child, ready to swoop in if anything remotely “bad” happens.

    So, don’t mislabel yourself!

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