For me, as a parent, it's really hard to find a so-called "balance." In fact, I'm starting to wonder if one exists at all. Between my career, my relationships, my household responsibilities, and parenthood, it's difficult to find a neutral setting that helps me navigate life as a working mom of two in a feasible, sustainable way. Thankfully, there things every lighthouse mom wants helicopter moms to know; things I've learned, as a mom who has admittedly been both, that can help us all find a middle ground that works best for us and our unique families.
For the record, I didn't set out to be a helicopter mom. I simply reacted naturally, and my innate instincts left me hovering over my children. There wasn't a moment when I realized that I needed to take a big step back, either, but instead many moments that helped me move towards a more "lighthouse" way of parenting. Now, like a lighthouse guides ships coming and going, I simply try to guide my children down a path that will keep them healthy, happy, and safe. A lighthouse is a beacon of knowledge that provides insight and guidance from a distance, allowing the ships to navigate potentially treacherous seas successfully and on their own. Isn't that the goal of a pa rent, too? To help our children find their own way, independent of their parents and on their own terms?
These personal revelations and my evolution as a parent didn't happen over night, of course. In fact, I'm still a work in progress. But when I feel myself hovering or failing to give my kids the space they need, I remember what any lighthouse mom would want a helicopter mom to know, including the following:
It Doesn't Have To Be So Hard
As a former hovering mom, I can tell you that the helicopter thing is exhausting. Not only does it circumvent your efforts of raising strong, capable kids who'll grow into strong, capable adults, it's a huge weight on your shoulders. Parenting really doesn't have to be so hard, especially all the time. By taking the lighthouse approach you're not just giving yourself a break from the constant stress of hovering and dictating, but you're giving your kids the self-esteem and confidence they'll need for the rest of their lives.
Failure Is A Good Thing
In my experience, you can't know success until you've experienced failure? When I was helicopter parenting, I was actually keeping them experiencing adversity or hardship or failure; all things we inevitably feel as human beings, and all things we need to learn how to navigate.
You Can Protect Kids From A Distance
When I say I take a step back, it doesn't mean I disappear or ignore my kids entirely. As a lighthouse mom, I simply observe them from a safe distance that allows them to try new things, but with a guaranteed safety net in place. If I'm needed, I'll step and help.
Taking Risks Is A Good Thing
I don't want my kids to live their lives in fear. But as a helicopter parent, I was inadvertently teaching my children to be afraid of, well, everything.
When I think about how often I kept my son from climbing something too high, or playing too rough, I realize that I wasn't really protecting him. I was just keeping him from taking some very reasonable risks that were going to help him grow.
It's OK To Be Afraid
In my experience, fear and motherhood go hand-in-hand. It's natural, even beneficial, to feel afraid for your kids... to want them to stay safe to the point that you see danger lurking in every corner. You're not somehow a flawed parent if you're not jumping for joy at the thought of your child trying something new. Parenthood can be scary, so it's OK to be scared.
Your Kids Will Be OK
Believe it or not, kids really are resilient. When I stopped hovering over my children, and gave them breathing room to make mistakes and forge their own paths, they grew into themselves. Now I can see how much better off they are with the freedom to choose for themselves. As hard as it feels to let go a little, I know they'll be fine.
You'll Be OK
The hardest part of letting go, for me, has been my own intense feelings of guilt and fear. I don't want to watch my kids get hurt or fail. I mean, what parent does? But when I think back to my own childhood, I became who I am because of the adversity I faced — not because someone was hovering over me and dictating my every move.
Every lighthouse mom wants helicopter moms to know, above all else, that it's going to be OK. Your kids will be fine, and so will you.