Helicopter Mom

As she jumped in the car after the second day of school, tears flowed. She couldn’t even tell me what was wrong. I felt sick. I had prayed that transitioning to a new school would be a wonderful experience. Why didn’t God answer my prayers?

After the crying stopped, she finally said, “I’m the only girl at a table with all boys, and they use bathroom words. They’re really gross!”

I was afraid of what I may hear but curiously asked, “What kind of bathroom words?”

She replied, “Butt, fart and they literally burp in my face!” Tears again.

Writing about it now, I’m laughing. But in that moment, I was so frustrated. I wanted to fix her problem immediately. As I drafted an email to the teacher requesting a new seating assignment, I stopped and thought to myself – I’m behaving like a helicopter mom. At the first sign of a challenge, I’m swooping in to fix the problem. I’m not allowing her to be independent and grow from this experience.

I deleted the email and never contacted the teacher. Another week passed. Every morning, there were tears. Every afternoon, relief that the day was over. I asked others for advice. I read the Bible. I prayed, but nothing changed. After drop-off one day, I was praying in the car and this is what God gave me – You may be the expert on your child, but the teacher is the expert on the whole class. Then, I remembered Proverbs 2:6:

“For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

The teacher knows how my daughter fits into the group dynamics, I don’t. With this new perspective, I emailed the teacher. I didn’t request a new seating arrangement — I simply informed the teacher of my daughter’s problem. I relied on the teacher’s expertise to handle the situation, and I asked for her advice.

Immediately, I received a response. The teacher talked to my daughter privately, and they decided on a plan of action together. It all happened … without me. My daughter solved the problem by effectively communicating with her teacher, instead of my swooping in to save the day. Thank you, God, for amazing teachers!

Obviously, if there is a major moral or ethical issue, I will proudly be a helicopter mom. I will swoop in and defend my daughter. With the simple issues, though, I’m finding the balance. I want to know and be informed. I want to pray about those situations. I want to give her advice, but more than anything … I want her to learn. She can’t grow if I’m always willing to swoop in.

I prayed for a smooth transition — it didn’t happen. God’s plan was much better. My child learned to effectively communicate with her teacher and solve a problem. And, I learned an important mothering lesson:

Stop and pray before swooping in to fix!

5 thoughts on “Helicopter Mom

  1. My instinct is always to swoop in and fix my children's problems. But, as a mom of a third-grader, I'm learning that's not always best. I'm finding the balance. I can be her biggest supporter, but also allow her to grow from her own life experiences. This is not easy! Anyone else have this struggle?

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    • I totally agreed Mandy. I have a 2nd grader girl who is learning to identify, create and have her independence as well. When those hard moments come, I begin to think in the process of the butterflies: they have to get out of their cocoon on their own. The "fight" they have to break through is necessary so their wings get strong enough so they can fly….otherwise, they'll never be able to do it. As a mom, I also struggle to see my kids go with their challenges, but I pray, pray and pray for them and ask God to help me be patience, wise and positive to give them their opportunity of a life time: to grow in the path of the Lord, with the confidence they can do it, that if they fall, they're capable to learn from it and to look at it as an opportunity of improvement, ALWAYS under God's eye. That's how I'm learning to be their mom, to have peace, let go and at the same time, work as God's instrument to educate and teach them 🙂

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  2. This is really what advocating WITH your child is about. Empowering them, to be and live and direct their own lives. Although my particular focus is on special needs and inclusion (www.advocatingwithyourchild.com) as I have three kids with special needs…. I appreciate the release of the hold we often have as parents to think we have to DO for them. This is a terrific life-story, thanks for sharing it.

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