Letting Go

I’m really glad my children were all grown up before I ever heard the term “helicopter parent.”  It’s supposed to refer to the kind of parents who are always at their child’s side, organizing things just so, arranging and scheduling every moment of their child’s time and in general doing their best to make sure that their child’s life goes smoothly, in all ways and at all times.  Helicopter parents are a frequent subject of ridicule in the media and on the internet, with no one admitting that they are one and everyone blaming them for all the ills of the current crop of children and young adults.  So I’m going to go out on a limb here and admit a dirty little secret:  I’m pretty sure I qualified, if not as a full-fledged helicopter parent, at least as a drone wannabe.

Martha and Daniel with WhitneyAll I can say in my defense was that I had the best of intentions.  I didn’t want my kids to be the smartest, most popular and most athletic kids in the class, but I did want them to be happy and well adjusted, and spared from the kind of pain I remembered all too well from my own childhood.  And so I stayed too close, was overly protective, was too quick to try to right a wrong, and too often took their pain and disappointments as personal affronts to my parenting skills.  I might not have over-scheduled my children, but I was over-involved in details of their lives that would have best been handled all by themselves.

I know part of the problem was my own personality, as I am a natural worrier and organizer, and not at all the type of person who is able to easily “just go with the flow.”  I think many of us have unrealistic expectations of what we can and cannot accomplish as a parent.  Recently, I read a blog where a young mother stated, “I know that my job is to make all my kids’ dreams and wishes come true.”  There was a time when I would have agreed with her, but now I just wanted to tell her that her job is only to help teach her children how to make their own dreams and wishes come true.

My son and daughter are both in their late twenties, are each either married to or engaged to a wonderful person who loves them, are working hard at building their careers and are busy exploring their own interests.  In other words, they managed to survive my helicopter parenting without any major damage.  And they are patient with me when I backslide and begin to inquire as to whether or not they are exercising and eating right, remembering to lock their doors at night, and in general treating them as if they weren’t smart enough to manage their own lives just fine.

I think the final job of parenting is learning to let go.  That means letting go of the guilt that we weren’t the perfect parent we wanted to be, letting go of the desire to constantly guide our children’s lives, and letting go of the child they were in order to accept the adult they have become.  For every parent, there comes a time when the only thing worth hanging onto is the love.

 

 

31 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Hey Ann, I don’t think you’d be a mum if you didn’t still ask if they were eating right! Seriously though, this is a post I think most mums can relate to, at least I know I do. Like you, I’m a bit of drone as opposed to a full blown helicopter parent. I don’t over schedule but I’ve always encouraged, stayed close, guided and helped my kids make decisions without totally taking over. My two are younger than yours so I’m trying to balance being there with slowly letting go. It’s not always easy but I’m doing my best. Thanks for a great post.

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  2. Helicopter or no helicopter mom; Ann I’m sure there are many who wished and still wish they had a parent like you who is genuinely concerned about their child or children wellbeing… There are parents who see their children as a means to an end. It’s sad to say but true.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I know what you mean, I’ve sent that too. They want their children to be successful only because they see it as direct reflection on them. It is sad…. Thanks, Deanne, for always being there with an encouraging word!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We can talk about parenting forever and still not come to a common conclusive decision as to what is right it wrong, regardless of what the experts say. Life isn’t perfect and neither were we. News flash for our children, they won’t be perfect parents either. They will make mistakes, wish there was a do over or two, not think they’re overly protective, overbearing or overly critical without knowing it. It’s what all parents do, even the best.
    We are and respond to situations based on our personalities. We shouldn’t have to apologize for who we are. And when children turn out as well adjusted as yours apparently have, there should be no second guessing or regrets. Helicopter or not, you done good..:) enjoy the fruits of your labor..:)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, George! You are always so kind, and wise as well. I know I could have done better, if I knew then what I know now, and if I had the maturity I have now when I was a young mother. But I didn’t, and I just did the best I could with who I was and what I knew. My kids are far from perfect, but they are indeed fine, and I know that I am very, very lucky to have such good relationships with them. In the end, that’s all that matters!

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  4. Oh Ann, I think this is the hardest part of parenting quite honestly. We spend a better part of our lives caring for our children. It is so hard to stand back as they become adults & find that balance of how much to intervene & how much to respect that they need to make their own decisions, even if they aren’t ones we agree with.

    In the end, all we can do is to continue to love them with full hearts, letting them know we are a safe place to fall if they need us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is, and I wish I was a bit better at learning to back off! But I am making progress, and my kids are patient, so that all helps. And you are so right, all that really matters is that they know we love them and we have their backs if they need us. Thanks for the comment, Lynn!

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  5. I am not a parents so I can’t say much on this. But my parents are still always asking me questions about things. When I told my dad that at my age he needs to stop worrying about me, his response was I am still his kid and he still feels responsible for my well-being. I guess no matter how old a kid gets parents have a hard time in letting go.

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    • It really is. I look at my son and daughter, and I see an adult, but I also see the child they once were, and still have an instinct to take care of them. It’s an odd mix, but I think it’s just what being a mother is all about.

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  6. Ann, it’s always been apparent to me from reading your blog that you’re a great mom with well adjusted kids. But you’re so right that many times we second guess ourselves. I work in higher education and let me tell you the true helicopter parents are the ones filling out their kids college applications and Fafsa forms for them and calling professors to ask why Johnnie got a B not an A on his paper. Those are often the kids that go wild once they’re away from their parents and have their first real taste of freedom.

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    • Oh, thanks for the kind words, Kim! I had my faults as a parent (just ask my kids!) and my kids are perfect either, but I know we are lucky to have no real issues and to still be close. I know I never took it as far as many helicopter parents, but I also know I was more involved than was healthy for me or my kids. But what’s done is done, and luckily, we all got past it.
      Honestly, reading your post about your relationships with your sons got me thinking about this whole issue. Your honesty and eloquence always inspires me to examine my own life a bit more carefully, and I thank you for that…it’s a gift, and I appreciate it.

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  7. Hey Coleman, another good write, but the take away bite of it is, the kids did good, so, so did you. Now me, I was raised by committee; foster homes and an orphanage. At seventeen I was an emancipated minor, and so rebellious a single whirlybird would have been tilting at windmills trying to ground me. It would have taken an entire Air Force, but the Army drilled some sense into me. Sorta, and In more ways than one.

    Regards,
    Doug

    * you could use a contact page for this site, Ann.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In the neighborhood where I grew up, parents let the kids and dogs roam. It didn’t hurt the dogs much and as for the kids…well, sometimes it was something straight out of Lord of the Flies. Fist fights were considered normal. You might get asked about it when you showed up for dinner with a black eye or a bloody nose – but that was it.

    Of all the kids that I knew only two failed in life (both alcoholics and addicts, in and out of jail) – but the rest of us had remarkably successful careers. The reason we did well is that we expected to do well and our parents hands-off approach allowed us to become extremely adaptable.

    So I can honestly say I don’t what is the best style of parenting – but I will say, if the peer-group is healthy, the kids will be. If it is not, it makes little difference what the parents do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We were pretty much on our own most of the time, too. As long as we were home in time for dinner, our parents really didn’t worry about what we were up to. Being a girl, I didn’t get in many actual fights (but there were a few incidents, one involving a real bow and arrow), and I was lucky enough to have a mostly good peer group. I was even luckier that my kids also had good peer groups, because I agree, kids from the nicest families and most well intentioned parents can get in real trouble if they fall in with the wrong group. I often wish I had let my kids run free more than I did, but by the time they came along, we parents were besieged with stories of child abductions, etc., and the message was clear: good parents always watch their kids. And I was naive enough (and me enough) to go along with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This post is very timely for me as I just attended a function at my daughter’s school today and was first excited to see her then embarrassed at how she reacted knowing I was there. She immediately became the class clown! 😕

    I wanted to discipline her but knew very well it would only make her embarrassed in front of her friends so I refrained, while cringing on the inside. Then I remembered, she’s not home, she’s at school and the teachers know what to do so l had to step back and as you said “Let Go”

    Of course, we’ll have a discussion about it when she gets home later.

    On the bright sideside, it was a fun experience and was happy I made time to be there.

    As parents, our little ones grownup so fast and we try to do as much for them as we can, especially if we felt like we missed out on a lot in our own childhood. But as it turns out, the best memories are the ones when our parents were around showing love and being present in the moment. Life doesn’t need to be scheduled to the max to be fulfilling as it all just becomes a blur leaving one frustrated and exhausted. (if you’ve been keeping up with my posts you know how overwhelmed I’ve been feeling the past few months).

    Very pleased to hear your lovelies are doing well. You did great!

    Have a lovely weekend 🌷

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have a different experience… I worked so much I feel I missed out on my son’s very special years. You only get a little bit of time before they are all grown up and I think every moment is precious. It sounds like your doing just fine 🙂

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