Guest post: Helicopter Parenting

I heard recently that a friend of mine was doing some reading on parenting.  (Here’s one that I found.)  She told me later that it was “helicopter parenting.” She has a great deal of experience as a parent of older kids as well as a mentor to moms so I was interested.  I asked her to blog on this and here’s what she said:

There’s a phenomenon becoming rampant in our society – it’s Helicopter Parenting. This term was coined several years ago by universities that began noticing that more and more parents were trying to be over-involved in their students’ lives as they went off to college – everything from roommate issues to school schedules to making to-do lists for their children.  One mother even admits to driving two hours each way every single week to clean her son’s dorm room and do his laundry!  Technology has been instrumental in allowing parents to remain very active and involved in their young adults’ lives after they leave home.  The cell phone has been called the world’s longest umbilical cord.

However, this term is also now being used for parents with children of all ages.  Many parents today (usually more moms than dads) want to be involved in every aspect of their children’s lives.  They plan their schedules to the minute, which seldom leaves free play time – crucial for children to learn how to be creative and work with peers and friends.  Parents also are becoming more and more involved and vocal in their children’s school and sports.  It is now the norm for a parent to fight for better grades for their children (no matter what is actually deserved) and to demand a better position or playing time on sports teams.  Why?  For success!

But what is success? Good grades, right school, star athlete, scholarship, best college, good job (meaning lots of money)?  That is not how God measures success – that is achieving the American Dream.

How does God measure success?  By things such as a right relationship with Him, being a vital part of His Kingdom and helping to advance that, showing care and concern for others.  This is how He measures success for all of His children – from the youngest to the oldest.  Our children are called to serve Him as soon as they truly surrender to Him.  Not just planning for when they “grow up.”  But right now!  As a small child, they can do many things including praying for others, collecting for the poor, saving for tithes and offerings to their church, showing kindness to another child who needs it, etc.

Ultimately as they grow up, serving God might mean a good education and professional job.  It might mean raising a family at home.  It might mean going to a foreign and dangerous place to share His Gospel and His love.  Success in God’s kingdom is surrender and obedience.  THAT is what we need to prepare our children for.

Two ways to parent :  fear-based or trust-based.  Many parent through fear.  Fear that their children will not “succeed,” fear that their children will not be safe in this world, fear that if they don’t give their children every possible opportunity to experience sports and dance and clubs they have failed.  But God calls us to parent by trusting Him for their futures.  We are to teach them about His Word and His character, how to truly surrender to Him, and about His Kingdom and their place in it.  Help them learn to listen for His voice, show them how to serve Him from the time they are very young.

Then – don’t hover.  Help them learn how to make good, Biblical decisions; trust God; help them learn  through their failures – and set them free to obey God’s call on their lives, wherever that may take them.

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