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

my universe.

Anybody relate?

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??

Anybody relate?

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

lives?

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!)

The Truth About My Lying...

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I have to admit that I didn't know this until this morning. Though we had children late in life, Gabe and I are blessed in that we've not ever had to experience loss in this way. However, as a nurse I've been at the bedside of too many families to count that have lost their children. As a flight nurse, there are countless stories I could tell you of being in the middle of the storm of children dying. Though I have not experienced this in my own life, I can relate to the outcry of grief that such loss causes. But... no. I did not remember that this day honors these lost souls and brave families. I can imagine that today is forever stamped into the memory and on the hearts of those who have lost their babies. My heart grieves alongside them. In honor of today, and so many of my beautiful friends who have lost children, I wanted to bring you a heartwarming and hopeful message that one of my dear friends wrote. I am honored to call her teacher and friend, sister in Christ. I pray that her wise words bring you comfort and peace... even in the midst of shattered hopes and dreams.

 

 

I've been lying. For a long time.

If that got your attention, it was meant to. After all, I am an English teacher and you've got to start with a great hook.

When asked if I had any children, I have always answered no. This is a lie. Let me explain.

After my first miscarriage, a pastor spoke the words of Isaiah 54:1-3 over me: “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities."

I've been pondering this verse quite a bit lately because I've been considering it as part of a tattoo design. Just this morning, I realized Satan had been feeding me a lie and I had been falling for it hook, line and sinker.

The lie?

That I am a barren woman with no children other than the two who await me in heaven.

The truth?

I have LOTS of children, right here on Earth.

You see, I had always viewed the Isaiah passage in a future-tense metaphorical sense. This morning, the Holy Spirit whispered to me that this is a NOW truth, and I'm blown away by it, so much so that I could hardly wait to get it written down.

You may have noticed the ring in the video. I purchased it this weekend at Apple Butter Days. The initials are for my Nine godchildren: Hannah, Tyler, Josie, Kenzie, Ella, Gabe, Payton, Sidney and Emma. The "&" symbol represents their spouses and children.

But here's where it gets good: the "ands" extend far beyond my godchildren. As I reflected on my 26 years of marriage this morning, I've had children every step of the way. It began with my nieces, and continued with football players, basketball players, church youth group members, friend's kids, and my own students. All along, God has been choosing specific children to weave into the tapestry of my life. And once I take you into my heart, you're there forever.

I have a LOT of kids. And not in a future-tense metaphorical sense either. They've lived with me, cried with me, laughed with me, done chores with me. We've played games and traveled together, celebrated birthdays and holidays. I've fed them lots of food and bought them lots of stuff. We've worshipped and prayed and studied the Bible together.

My children are incredibly successful. They are faithful husbands, wives and parents. They have careers in ministry, medicine, art, business, science, technology and education. My descendants, as they are called in Isaiah, are world-changers.

This summer, I asked God to make me a prayer warrior. Boy, has He ever answered my prayer, but not in the way I expected. I've always been a great sleeper, 8 to 9 hours every night...until lately. For the past couple months, I've spent countless hours in the dark of night in prayer. It started with going through my Nine one by one, and has gradually grown into a list of some length. If you're one of my kids, I've been praying for you.

So what's the point of this incredibly long and personal post? To give God the credit, as a sweet friend of mine likes to say.

There may be a woman out there who, like me, struggles with her barrenness at times. My dear one, God's words in Isaiah are right-now true for you too. Let that settle in your bones and begin to act on its truth. Your womb may be empty but your life is not, and God gets the credit.

There may be someone out there who needs to see an example of appropriating the truth of God's word. My favorite verse is Psalm 107:20, "You sent forth Your word and healed me, and saved me from all my destructions." Wherever there is an area of difficulty in your life, I promise there are verses in the Bible to help you, and God gets the credit.

To my Nine, I love you beyond words. Your parents' decision to choose me as your godmother is an honor I have always taken seriously, more so now than ever.

To my "ands," I thank God for you. You have made my life rich and meaningful. You know who you are, and every one of you are a unique and special gift to me. I adore you.

Lord, until you call me home, I will continue "stretching out my tent." Keep 'em coming. I have room in my heart, and You get the credit.

See Kathy's ring of children here.

 

 

Dear sister- on a personal note... thank you for your incredible vulnerability and for speaking such TRUTH to those who need to hear it. I see change in you! Much LOVE ~Bethany