Hello my summertime parents.
Happy happy happy summer. What are the family plans… chillin at home, hanging by the pool, vaca at the beach, visit a new country or maybe doing something you have never done before? No matter what, I hope you relax a bit more and have fun. How about the kids… day camps, overnight camps, hanging with their friends? I have definitely noticed that as they get older, it can be a bit tough to let go. My son just turned 14 and for the first time I really felt the difference where he wants to hang out with his friends more than the family. That is a good thing… right? Ok, I know it is, but man it can be hard letting go and when you miss them.
The more and more I spoke to parents this year about the teenage transition, the more and more the term Helicopter Parenting was mentioned in our chats. “Now Sandy, you don't want to be one of THOSE parents, do you??” You know what I am talking about… those who hover over their child and are always there to keep them from falling, failing, getting hurt, making mistakes… living their lives. If you can relate to any of this, I am not sure if you are a helicopter parent, but it may be time to just sit back and reevaluate your relationship with your kids. Even if you consider your style very hands off, I am sure we can all admit we have crossed that line many times with the best intentions. How can they possibly know what is good for them? They haven't been out in the real world and their brains aren't fully developed. We are here to protect our kids and make sure they don't make the same mistakes we did. My house my rules. Hmmm...
Well, there may be some truth in those statements but (and it's a big BUT) is it really giving them life skills? Are we treating them how we would want to be treated when we were kids? Also, it really depends on the age of your children. When it comes to parenting, there really is no handbook or right way. You have to do what feels right for you and your child. Each kid needs something different and each parent has their own style. But we all could use a tweak now and then.
How many of these can you relate to?
You are always standing right next to your child on the playground.
You end up calling the other parents or teachers yourself to revolve issues.
You are they mediator between fights between friends.
Your child still has training wheels on their bike.
You have found yourself doing their homework more than a couple of times.
Chores? They don’t do chores.
Whenever there is a problem you swoop in. They have never failed.
You still treat them like they are three, even though they are seven.
You always ask the teacher, coach, or principle, what more you can be doing, or tell them what they should be doing to help your child.
Your child’s friends tend to go over to another person's house so they can have more fun.
No judgement, no shame, we all show love for our families and children in different ways, and you are coming from a place of true love for them. But, there are some consequences if your child is 16 and you are still setting up their playdates… yikes.
“In 2008, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan published their Self-Determination Theory. According to them, the 3 innate needs that all human beings need for healthy development are:
Basic need for autonomy
Basic need to be confident in one’s abilities and accomplishments
Basic need to feel they are loved and cared for
The closer we are to having these 3 basic needs met the more satisfied we are with our lives.”
It has been shown that helicopter parents keep these needs from developing in their children. It is all about that balance between love, support, but also letting them be an individual. Trust me, we all have those helicopter moments, but what truly matters is your love and support for them.
For example, recently my son went on an overnight trip and made some amazing friends. We were all a little nervous about it, but it ended up being fantastic. When he got back and we heard how much fun he had, I had the thought to call those parents and invite them over with their children to have a party. Not a playdate, but… another way to get him hanging out with those kids. And keep in mind, that my son just turned 14 and never mentioned he would like them over. Yikers. I didn’t call them because something deep inside me said STOP, let him make his own friends. If he wants them over he can do it himself. We all have those moments just trying to help our children succeed, have more friends, be happy.
So, this summer, how are you interacting with your child? I know it can be hard, but sometimes they need to grow and learn on their own. Here is my go to parenting checklist.
Be there for your child. Be there to pick them up when they fall, because they will. That is just a part of life.
Listen. Your child will tell you, or show you signs, when they need help, or to be left alone a little.
You can’t prevent them from making mistakes, especially the ones you made when you were young. They are learning, making mistakes is part of that. You just have to be there to pick them up.
This is their journey… not yours. I know sometimes it gets crossed, but it is their own particular life they are living, and they need to make those decisions for themselves. Just let them know you are there if they want to bounce ideas off of you.
Find a good friend who loves to check in with. They can tell you if you are being a little helicoptery while coming from a loving place.
Let the summer begin, and have so much fun.