You see those helicopter parents hovering over their kids everywhere basically never letting their kids experience failure and helping them each step of the way. I know these moms and dads think are doing a good thing but frankly I feel like it is a disservice to their child. God forbid, what if one of these helicopter parents has a crash crisis landing? What will happen to these children that have no clue how to fend for themselves? I was grateful that I had already instilled in my kids some responsibility when I returned to work outside the home five years ago because once my husband and I began to provide care for our aging parents and were stretched out even thinner, our kids were in a prime position to pick up even more of the areas that began to slack.
I usually tell my kids that my job as their parent basically boils down to two main things:
1) Keep them safe.
2) Help them become people that others enjoy being around.
Yesterday, I asked my 15 year old daughter what kind of mom I was if I wasn’t a ‘helicopter mom’. She replied, ‘you are more like an airplane mom’. I think what she meant by that is that I’m up there watching from a distance but not hovering. Maybe instead of an airplane mom, I’d like to be a drone – it just sounds more like a parent that tries to keep up with the ever changing times. But, in general I try to let my kids chart their own successful path but I’m just a radio call away. Below are some examples of how my kids are learning to take on responsibility.
Once I started to work outside the house, I had to get creative with my time in order to weave in my personal fitness goals. The summer before school started, I let my kids know that I wasn’t going to be there to get them off to school in the morning as this was the best time for me to fit my regular exercise in so I could be available in the evenings for dinner and their after school activities. I taught them how to make eggs and explained to them that they needed to get themselves on the bus and help each other. In over three years, my kids have only missed the bus one time and thankfully I have rock star neighbors that helped them out.
Both my kids have also been doing their own laundry for the past few years. This is a huge time saver! I explained to them that I could do it all but that would mean that we would have less time for family weekend fun.
My kids are 100% responsible for their academic success. I haven’t read a teacher’s blog in years and I frankly often don’t even know who their teachers are or even what courses they are taking. They do know I’m available to proof a paper or help them study for a test and overall they know that I expect them to do their best in all their subjects. Probably for the past 5 years we have paid our kids for their report card grades. This is definitely controversial with some of our friends but I can only share that it works for us. Our kids are motivated by money – probably because we don’t buy them non-essential items on a whim. We view their academics as their job right now as students. We pay them $25 for each report card A, nothing for B, and they will have some type of consequence (like losing their phone) if they get a C. The ‘what’s in it for me’ benefit of doing this is that I don’t have to NAG my kids about doing homework, studying for tests, and staying on top of things. When they earn their money, they usually opt to tuck a % away for a long term purchase.
My kids know their basic boundaries. One big one is that their iPhones get plugged into our room at 10pm each weeknight and 11pm on weekends. We want them to get an uninterrupted night of sleep and this also gives us an opportunity to review their social media. We are completely up front about these periodic reviews and this gets logged under the parenting job heading of ‘keeping them safe’. They also know that they are expected to help walk and feed the dog, take their turns emptying the dishwasher, help either set the table or cleanup the dishes after dinner, and in general pick up after themselves.
I’m so grateful for my kids. They are mature, independent, and confident hard workers and they help me out a lot! I’m constantly thinking of ways to allow my kids to grow more as young adults and help me stay sane in the process. Lately, I’ve been thinking of paying them to help out with more jobs around the house, including cooking dinner once a week and helping with weekly food prep. I’ll have to let you know how that goes.
So, I think there is no fear of me being a helicopter mom. For now, I’ll be an airplane mom navigating through the clouds and constantly looking for the happy altitude.
Please share: In what ways do your kids help you out? What are you now able to do with these extra nuggets of time?