Dear Critics of “The Helicopter Mother”
It is inevitable that the minute our children breathe their first tiny gasp of air, they are susceptible to both the joys and dangers of life. Like mother bears, the mother brain is wired to protect, provide and nurture. For most of us, caring for our newborn comes naturally. We feed, we stroke, we hold and cherish the sweet smells, touches, and feel their steady breath on our necks, our cheeks, and our lips. The responsibility of what we have created blows even the most confident of us away as we ponder on the reality that this child is ours, this child will depend on us to be launched into this expansive world we live.
Yet, we are not wild mama bears who live in the forest. Instead, we are independent and educated women, entrepreneurs, cooks and Chief Executive Officers of our home and our lives. We are do-ers, safety experts, first-aid providers, event planners and we all know that a mother’s job is not to prepare a child to work on the family farm, but to create a life of happiness and possibilities for our young.
We have read the scathing articles about helicopter mothers, drone parents and overbearing soccer moms. Like any profession, there will always be those who are the top performers. But please know, most of us are just flying the everyday, regular helicopter. Most of us know that we can never be responsible for another’s happiness. So we read the millions of parenting books, go to expert lectures, talk to doctors, go to parenting classes and take a shot at cobbling together a path for our young. And as we hover, we are watching carefully to evaluate if this road will accomplish the job of raising independent, self-advocates.
In defense of Helicopter Mothers everywhere, I purpose this manifesto so to give a voice for those who seek success in raising children in a complicated, dynamic and ever changing world. Our critics are relentless, so I suggest we band together to provide opportunities for each other and our children that will support growth, engagement, and independence.
The Helicopter Mother Manifesto
- We work to create a path that is vibrant and lined with guardrails. We assemble a village of teachers, friends, and congregations as we know our children may not always choose to come to us when they are suffering.
- We search for a kind and culturally proficient school that commit to appreciating the gifts and challenges that my child and others with differences bring to the community. These schools know that everyone benefits from diversity.
- We seek environments in the world where our children have choice, time to be bored, and hours of play and play and more play.
- We demand venues where the voice of our children is heard. When this fails, we look for an accepting and open space for parents to kindly and respectfully take a stand.
- We seek Mentors, Heroes, books, books and more books, so our children learn empathy and about faraway places and perspectives.
- We demand limited video and screen time at school, child care, camps and Grandparent’s house.
- We seek a million opportunities for our children to do it “all by themselves.” Our children crave to feel BIG and they need experience in having multiple jobs, serving on committees, completing internships, earning money, spending money and doing it all over again.
- We are brave and talk to our children in an age-appropriate manner about sex, drugs, pornography, body safety, and alcohol. We model what we preach.
- We allow our children to do dangerous things like climb trees, light fires, and drive a go-cart. We demand they help in the garden, climb ladders and use hammers and saws. We let our children cut bananas with butter knives.
- We embrace the failure of our children. But sometimes, when the pain is too much for both us we pick them up and hold them, and wipe their tears. Sometimes, when they scrape their knee we are going to run towards them, bring out the Elmo band-aid, and we are going to hold our babies for a long time, and we are going to have a very hard time letting them go.
Please remember, Critic; we are doing the best we can with the resources we have. But in the end, our brains are wired like mother bears. So, please stay our of our way and let us do our job.
Helicopter Mothers Everywhere
Laura Barr is owner of e.Merging Educational Consulting, co-founder of Enlightened Inclusion and spend her time raising her four children, advocating for children, and providing PD on Instructional coaching models at school on a national level.
For more tips for parents and educators, check out e.Merging’s Blog. Also, check out our services which include parenting education, educational advocacy, relocation services, and educational consulting HERE.