I’ve been called a helicopter parent before, which is fine. People have called me worse. But the same person, after watching me parent longer, took that back. I, like most parents, will bend over backwards to help their children succeed but like most, also recognize that at a certain point, they have to do it on their own.
It’s all about background support – when what you really want to do is make it all go away.
This week, as I sat in our hotel room listening to the stupid roosters 10 feet outside our new hotels window crow at 10 pm (after starting at 5 am)….. and telling the boys to quiet down so their dad could sleep for work tomorrow. Several hours away from him, my first-born informed me over FB that two days ago he walked into a Wasps nest and was stung all over his legs and abdomen. “OMG’sh! Are you ok?” “Yeah. I itch though.” And then today he came on to tell me that he lost the new job he had recently gotten due to a misunderstanding. He didn’t say it was their fault, he said it was his. His boss has a very thick English accent and he didn’t understand her instructions for his work schedule, didn’t confirm what he heard and didn’t show up. He’s never lost a job before?
He know’s he screwed up. He feels terrible, especially since he loved that job.
As a parent, all I want to do is fix it! I want to go down and explain, fight to get the job back or in the least, buy him ice cream and give him a big hug.
But I can’t – he’s a big boy. He’s a man. He’s an adult! And as much as I want to fix this, that doesn’t help him. All I can do is be here as a safety net and offer some advice if he asks.
I sat and let him vent. As we talked it through, I got to see him take a major step forward. He see’s the Lords work in this. He understands it’s a door closing to make the transition easier for the next door to open. He grouched and kicked himself, but he moved on and got ready for the next plan.
Had I stepped in, I would have missed watching his progress, his faith, his ability to become who he needs to be. He would have missed out on being able to make those steps and the important lessons that allow him to become more responsible.
It’s about background support.
We’re here man – if you really need us. But go ahead and screw up. Make mistakes now. Fall. From over here, I’m seeing one step back, two steps forward. And at 18, now is the time to make those mistakes and learn from them. What a great future ahead of you, when you understand and accept you’re own mistakes and use those to grow on!
Great men, make great mistakes, while building great plans.
By the time our conversation was over, he was ready to apply to a few new places. To focus more on his new young adults ministry he is helping to start and lead at his church. And to work twice as hard at his first job.
As for his welts – his girlfriends parents are both in the medical field and were able to take *excellent* care of him in my absence. Have I mentioned how much I like his girlfriend and her family?
He’s ready to move on, even if his foot is still kicking his sore and cortisone covered backside a bit ~
All without any helicopter rescues.