Last week, The New York Times published a really great opinion piece about “helicopter” parenting and the how to raise successful children.
I read it with interest because this is a question I ask myself daily. How much is too much? Am I thinking for her? Am I standing in the gap or am I crossing over into what should be her turf?
I know Girl’s teacher thought I was a helicopter last year. That said, she wasn’t exactly communicative with me, so I felt backed into the role of the “Bitchy Overbearing Mom.” I didn’t WANT to be hanging around, but when there’s little to no communication regarding her classroom hearing situation, I ended up hanging around. I would have loved nothing more than to drop her off at the beginning of the day, coming back only to be helpful in the classroom for ALL the students.
After that experience, knowing full well that her teacher thought I was obnoxious, it left lingering questions in my mind about my approach and her identity as a separate and capable person, reiterated by the article that so wisely addressed autonomy in children.
Here’s my dilemma: Girl IS capable. She can do anything, really, except hear 100%. We have tried to teach her that something like being born without an entire ear shouldn’t stop her from doing and being anything she wants.
But I DO have to stand in the gap sometimes. Am I creating a child who expects me to come to the rescue? Have we unwittingly taught her that she will be lifted up and out of whatever pickle she creates for herself? Have we taught her to fall back on her disability to excuse less-than-her best efforts and behavior?
I see her and she’s so damn tough in so many ways. Yet, when she falls apart over making instant oatmeal, I just don’t get it.
I can speak from first hand experience that one of the unintended consequences of always flying with a net is an often paralyzing self-doubt. You don’t learn fully what you’re made of if you know you don’t have to. I certainly don’t want that for her. I want her to face the world with a “bring it” attitude, ready for the challenges that will inevitably come her way. How can I do that when something as simple as an emotional upheaval over instant oatmeal (her responsibility) and as complicated as where she sits in the classroom (The Village Of School Professionals and our responsibility) send two very different messages to her?
So I ask again…how much is too much? When there is something not-quite-typical about your child, it’s the hardest line to see, and the easiest to cross.