Candace Ganger

Yeah, I’m A Helicopter Mom & Not At All Sorry

Parents of today live in a different world, with different obstacles, than parents of previous generations, which is one of the many reasons why I am constantly re-thinking my parenting strategies. For example, my parents grew up wandering freely all day and night, but I wouldn't dare let my kids out of sight. Of course everyone has their own styles and philosophies, but I truly believe I have a few solid reasons I'm a helicopter mom and, well, I'm honestly not even a little bit sorry about any of them.

To put it lightly, my childhood was unstable, unhealthy, and generally traumatizing in a verity of ways. My parents never purposefully set out to self-destruct after the divorce, nor did they intend to plant the deeply-rooted issues I still have branching out of me, but it's the way my history was written. Not all of it was unpleasant, and I did have reigning moments of stability and happiness, but when I think back on those years — the years filled with uncertainty and depression — I can better understand why I've tried to be so different with my own children.

When I became a new mother I never thought I'd hover, or "helicopter," but in my eyes it's better than the opposite extreme from which I came from. It's hard to articulate why there's not much in between for me but ,well, there just isn't. I'm frigid or volcanic, attached or detached, and utterly protective or quick to feel nothing at all. Over the years I've realized my need to have a hold on everything my children say and do stems from the turbulence in my own life. I mean no harm, and only want the best for my babies, which is just one of the many reasons why I'm just not sorry for all the hovering.

Because Something Bad Can Happen Quickly

If you've never been around kids, it's difficult to explain how fast things can go from bad to worse in a matter of seconds. I know this from all the times I'd climb the tree in my dad's yard. It never occurred to me, and no one watched on, that the branches might break or I might fall. Then, one day those branches did break and I did fall and, as a result, I broke my arm.

Maybe I'm a helicopter mom because I don't want my kids to know what it feels like to break a bone. So, yeah, if it keeps my kids from feeling unnecessary pain, I'm all about it.

Because I Want Them To Know They Can Count On Me

Unfortunately, I know what it feels like when you assume your parents don't really care all that much about you. Even if they do, when you don't feel that love or devotion, whether or not it actually exists really doesn't matter. So, yeah, I overcompensate. I'd much rather be too involved, or a "helicopter" parent, than not involved enough or leaving my kids to wonder if I care at all.

Because It's Possible To Teach Independence & Still Hover

Believe it or not, I'm pretty good at hovering and teaching my kids to make their own decisions. Yes, I'm there to catch them if they fall, but that doesn't mean I'm blocking every single one of their moves as they make them. My job is to teach them how to be on their own because, after all, I want them to be successful adults.

While some helicopter parents may demean a child's ability to choose for themselves, I maintain a low-key presence. In other words, I'm close enough they can come to me when needed, but I'm far enough away for them to learn to fly on their own. I don't want to impede on the people they're meant to become. Instead, I want to help them flourish.

Because My Kids Are Well-Behaved

It's true. I get compliments about my kids all the time, and I have to agree. Sure, they can be a handful at times and usually when they're just around me but, hey, they have to let loose somewhere. With anyone else, though? Well, they're on their best behavior, and I attribute a lot of that to my parenting choices, including the choice to be a helicopter parent.

Because Other Kids Can Be Mean & Even Dangerous

That old "kids will be kids" phrase doesn't fly with me.

In some ways, sure, us parents should be letting our kids enjoy the carefree, innocent life. When I think of "kids being kids," though, I remember my elementary days of being shoved, pinched, made fun of, ex-communicated from friend groups, and all the humiliating, embarrassing, harmful experiences I don't want my kids to endure. If it takes my hovering to limit these interactions, I'm there. It doesn't mean they won't learn to fight their own battles, but with my help it may show them how to empathize or understand why some kids do the things they do.

Because I Still Let My Kids Fail

Just because I'm a helicopter parent doesn't mean I prevent my children from failing. I want my kids to be successful in everything they do, but that's also impossible. So, when they do fall short, I want them to know how to push through that disappointment and learn from their mistakes.

I came from a background drenched in failures. I only knew what a "success" felt like because of all the times I wanted to quit, but didn't. Just because I'm nearby, helping them take the steps towards a success, doesn't mean I won't let them stumble along the way. It's careful parenting with a purpose.

Because I Don't Want To Look Back & Realize I Didn't Give My Kids My All

This is the truest reason for why I hover as much as I do. Being a parent comes with regrets, no matter what, because we're bound to make mistakes. If I do nothing else in my life, I want to be able to say that when my kids needed me, I was there. I try not to coddle, but I love them with every piece of my being. So when the day comes they're ready to leave the nest, I want as few of those regrets as possible. If that makes me a helicopter parent, so be it.