5 Ways to Avoid Being a Helicopter Parent (part 1)- Takeaways from Helicopter Mom by Bethany L. Douglas
Okay, so it occurred to me the other day that although I’ve published an entire book about helicopter parenting and how to avoid being one, I’ve never really written a blog about it. So, in order to wet your whistle I’ve decided to condense the book into a few super helpful (and more importantly, BIBLICAL) tips on how to ‘not be that parent.’ This will be an short blog series that I’m super excited to bring to you, hopefully you will gain insight into yourself as well as your fear behaviors. More importantly I pray that you will be inspired to LIFT instead of hover! .
We all know them, some of you ARE them… helicopter parents.
As some of you may know, I <sort of> know a thing or two about this particular phenomenon. Being a flight nurse for a number of years gave me an extremely unique perspective on the helicopter mom thing. And oh! dear ones… it is most definitely a thing… and a growing thing at that. Following the launch of Helicopter Mom I heard from all manner of helicopter grandparents, helicopter dads, helicopter wives, helicopters bosses, helicopter husbands… literally the list is almost endless. There are people hovering all over the place!
As it turns out, everyone on the planet has fears. Which is the crux of what Helicopter Mom is about- facing fears for your children (or fears of fill-in-the-blank…) and pushing past them so that we can LIFT! But for those who haven’t yet read the book, I’ve condensed it for you (I highly encourage you to get yourself an actual copy though, I’ll even autograph it for you!)
So, without any further ado, here’s 5 takeaways from the book that will help all you hoverers out there. (Stay tuned for all the follow-up sister-blogs to this one!)
Acknowledge the REASON for the hovering behavior.
Fear is a funny thing. It manifests as worry, anxiety, co-dependency, love at times, abuse at others. None of it’s manifestations is healthy or of God however.
I remember, before having my boys, my younger sister talking to me about the overwhelming
fear she had experienced as a new mom. I had not yet had my own children, so I had no personal
experience to base her reports, but I had been around enough new parents as a nurse that I could
at least empathize with her musings. Then I had my first son…. And suddenly a dark cloud of
fear came into my field of view almost immediately. Like storm clouds in the distance, the
horizon suddenly became dark… and as I held my newborn child, Jesse, I suddenly felt fear
unlike I’d known before. Fear for his life, for his health, for his walk with Jesus, his first scrape,
his first heartbreak; fear for potential car wrecks, drowning, kidnapping, tornadoes, dog bites,
tick bites, spider bites; fear of future addiction, future relationships, future grades in school,
future illness, future sports losses; fear for rug burns, wrestling bruises, choking on hot dogs,
falling out of trees, eating poisonous house plants… well, you get the idea. In one fell swoop, I
was terrified, stricken, paranoid, and basically rendered into a blob of new-mom goo. After all,
being an actual helicopter mom, I’ve seen the worst of the very worst happen to kids…. Believe
me, I guarantee you some of my peds calls can rival your worst nightmares! And now I had my
very own kid to raise, keep safe, keep fed, keep healthy… basically keep alive. All of a sudden, this mom
thing was looking a bit out of my league… actually I was thinking it was not even in
As if these (technical) possibilities of maiming, dismemberment, horrific death, and slow
parasitic wasting away by some remote Pacific island virus carried by a previously unknown
species of albino snail was not enough- my mind was completely unprepared for the absolutely
sick and twisted visions I would have occasionally of me accidentally causing death to my son. It turned
my blood cold that such musings would pop into my head. I seriously though there was
something seriously, seriously wrong with me. Surely I was, in actuality, the worst mom/human
being/wife on the planet! Who thinks such things? It’s one thing to be paranoid, it’s quite another
to envision yourself causing the hurt. Lord Jesus, I thought! What is wrong with me??
And yet, even in the midst of these visions, feeling these feelings of inadequacy and
incompetence… I also, just as vehemently, decided that I, and I alone could protect my son from
all these things. I would protect him from the big, bad world out there. And, perhaps, in my
biggest shortcoming and display of pride, decided that I could protect him from the big, bad
world out there. He was mine, my very own, my son, my precious (cue Gollum voice...); and I
was going to ensure his forever safety- come hell or high water. Makes perfect sense right? I
should’ve won the award for most delusional and hypocritical mother for 2012.) <I’m pretty sure
I was at least nominated… I’ve yet to receive any official letters about it though.>
Reading about my mindset on paper clarifies the absolute absurdity of my feelings. Yet, in
the moment, at the time, and I suspect for many of you, these thoughts and attitudes, oxymoronic
as they are, seemed totally legit. And how much do those delusions still dictate and shape our
This is a scary book to write but I imagine for those of you who live in the fear of the Valley
of the Shadow of Death, this book is even more scary to read. Scary because, as I’ve already
said, it addresses our very deepest and darkest fears about those we love the very most.
But I do know a thing or two about fearing for our kids. Mine and yours. Too often their lives
are in my hands… and that, my sisters, is absolutely terrifying. I know you hear what I’m saying.
Kids are petrifying. Fear for their health, their well-being, their life, their bodies, their brains,
their emotional stability… every single, little, sticky, hair on those heads is precious to us. And
damn it! we’re going to keep them fed, healthy, alive, and unharmed in any possible way
including physically, mentally, emotionally, economically, spiritually, politically,
geographically, seasonally, religiously, homeopathically, etc. etc. etc. etc.
We all know that we fear for our kids. This chapter could be an entire book by itself, talking
about talking about writing about fearing for our kids. We talk at nauseum about it. We feel
guilty about feeling guilty about fearing for them. But enough of talking about it and I’m
certainly not writing about it anymore, let’s look at it. (excerpt Helicopter Mom ch.2,)
In order to truly fix any problem we must first acknowledge that it exists right? I had a crazy hard time with publishers getting Helicopter Mom published because editors had an issue with my demographic. In the wise words of one of them, “The women who need this book most likely fall into 2 categories- either they are totally unaware that they are a helicopter mom, or they are very aware of it and proud to have the badge. You’re going to have a hard time getting people to read it.” They were not wrong. This is a systemic, western parenting issue. And yet, whether is be oblivion or a medal of honor, living in fear and the attempts to mitigate it is no way to live.
Like in all successful recovery programs, we have to admit we have a problem.
“Hello, my name is Sally Sue and I am a helicopter mom.”
Cue, “Hello Sallys” from around the room.
So, today, right here right now… let’s take a look at your fear level. This is written specifically for moms out there… but the Biblical principles we’ll apply are good for any kind of fear, worry, and anxiety.
Prayerfully consider your fear levels. Here are some questions to ponder-
Where are you on the helicopter mom scale? Do you make decisions (both for or against) out of fear?
How much time do you spend just flat-out worrying about your kids?
How much energy do you expend hovering over them (physically, emotionally, academically, etc etc etc.)?
How much of your head is partitioned off and labeled “things to worry about”?
Pray it out. Admit the problem, whether huge or small, and let’s start rooting it out! See ya next week for the next step!
If you’re like, “Yaaasss, it’s about time. I NEED this book!” I’d love to get a copy into your hands! It can be purchased on Amazon or this website (if you buy it from my website, I’d love to autograph it for you!)