Helicopter Parents

Have you ever seen those parents who hover over their kids’ every single move? You can almost hear the sound of helicopter blades whirring above them. You may think they’re over-protective. Or, maybe they’re just first-time parents? The truth is, there really is a fine line between doing your job as a parent, and being over-protective or over-bearing.

As an intentional father, something happens to you in the second that you hold your newborn baby (I say “intentional” because if you didn’t intentionally bring that child in to your life, the inclination to run away might hit you like a sledgehammer to the face) As a dad, your job is to protect your child at all costs. And teach your child the best that you know how. Can this go too far?

Absolutely.

But I’m working on it. (Actually, I’ve recently learned how to find balance)

I’d like to go back in time for minute and place you at the Cavendish Mall in Côte-St. Luc, Québec around 1996 (truth is, I don’t remember exactly when this happened, as I have repressed a lot of my teenage years, but the feeling is still as clear as if it happened yesterday, so here we go…) I’m going to plant you firmly in my shoes while I was walking alongside my sister after school (we would frequently go to the mall after school with our friends – because it was close to school and home, and because our mom wouldn’t be home from work for a while, so we had a chance to do what we wanted to do). I’m going to put you squarely inside my head and heart (sorry in advance) while we saw our father walking with his girlfriend. We looked at him and called out to him.
They both pretended as if we didn’t exist and walked right past us. We were both crushed.

Our father completely ignored us. I mean, how does that happen? We made all sorts of excuses and came up with justifications, but in the end, the truth is that there are none that are valid.

I’ll stop here because this was one of the milder things that he put us through (come to think of it, it would have been so much better if he had just stopped talking to us altogether, but I digress), and going into that stupidity is beyond the scope of what I wanted to talk about. I merely wanted to give a little basis for what comes next.

Over the course of my life, I’ve rationalized the way that my father treated me and I’ve forgiven him completely. I hold no grudges and am completely at peace (no, really, I mean it) with the situation. I’ve even tried to maintain some semblance of a relationship with him as recently as 4 years ago. I thought that maybe someday we could reconcile. But something happened when I became a father, and it has only grown as my son has. I realized that I would sooner tear out my own heart with a rusty spoon than intentionally cause my son to suffer in ANY way. I would rather drink battery acid. Or jump off of a cliff (OK, you get the point).

This led me to another realization: to do the things my own father did to us and feel completely justified means that he is either completely evil, or not right in the head. Either way, that is not an energy I want in my life or my family. Ever.

The way I grew up did something else to me. It made me over-compensate (or, helicopter) with my own son. After all, I was going to be the best dad my son could imagine, remember? But there’s a way to go too far. And I did for a while.

Don’t worry, I’ve figured things out and am doing things a little differently now.

I guess what I’m getting at is this: It’s ok important to let your child fall – it’s in the falling that they learn to get up, and independence is the greatest gift you can give your child. Make yourself obsolete. It’s not NEVER ok to knock them down.

I realize that this post is a little more serious than what I’ve posted previously. It just had to come out. Not sure why. I originally sat down to write a witty commentary on how we can be over-protective of our kids, ripe with insightful metaphors and similes. Instead, I ended up here… Oh well. Such is life. I promise, the next post will be lighter. Like a helium-filled balloon, maybe? Ha.

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One thought on “Helicopter Parents

  1. Never okay not to knock them down?? What if your child is the last thing standing between you and the end zone, in front of 80,000 crazed fans in the SuperDome, during the Super Bowl, (we don’t know how exactly the two of you made the field, but that’s another story) and he, despite being much smaller tries to tackle you, and the crowd is crying out for blood. THEN is okay to nock him down?
    Obviously, if it was a girl it would be different story …

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