There are some labels which scare me. In my heart, I know they shouldn’t matter, but when I reflect on them, I don’t want to be lumped into particular categories. I work hard to fight against wearing many of those ambiguous labels.
I don’t want to be thought of as inconsiderate,
I don’t want to be considered close-minded,
I don’t want to be tagged as selfish,
And, I don’t want to be a dreaded helicopter parent.
You know the ones who stand over their children throughout all stages of life meticulously guiding them through each of their decisions. They hover around their kids creating an impenetrable barrier, and the children rely so exclusively on the guidance of the parents they become almost incapable of making their own choices. I’m assuming this parenting behavior stems from a desire to keep their little ones innocent and unharmed, but it has created a generation of youngsters who have a hard time making decisions for themselves and accepting the consequences of those decisions when all is said and done.
I tend to be overprotective of my kids, and I’m likely hypersensitive to being labeled a helicopter parent because I toe the proverbial line. I want the best for my kids, and I hate to see them hurting in any capacity – physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. Therefore, I’m always nearby trying to move them in a positive direction, sometimes to their detriment. My children are still young but I already recognize my hovering behavior, and it’s caused me to take a step back and reflect.
My behavior defies the example laid out in Scripture and the teachings of the Church.
Our Blessed Mother and Father God allowed their son to be brutalized and tested physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally for the sake of our salvation. God enables us, his precious children, to find our path to heaven. He lays out the rules and provides some stories and then steps back and lets us learn on our own. He gives us the freedom to fall and the freedom to fail but the grace and mercy to return to his loving arms.
Much like the bedtime stories riddled with the not-so-hidden lessons I read each night to my children, the path to positive parenting is cleverly laid out throughout the New and Old Testament. The teaching of the prodigal son is just one example of how a father allows his child the freedom to leave his side and learn on his own. After the son squanders his money and barely survives off of the fallen scrapes of pigs, he humbly returns to the loving arms of his father who embraces him with love and grace (Luke 15:11-32). It’s a beautiful story, but it’s also a roadmap for faith-filled parenting.
We are each promised even more grace from our Heavenly Father. Because of the mercy and sacrifice of Christ, we too will be welcomed into eternity with open arms, regardless of our sins. We only need to humble ourselves and be open to the love and guidance the Lord provides. This is the most important lesson I need to teach my little ones.
Instead of hovering over all their decisions I need to trust in my parenting and my faith. I need to teach my kids to know and love the Lord now so they will have the tools necessary for salvation. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” If I teach my sons to be men of faith and integrity when they are young, those lessons will be the seeds for their salvation, even if I do not get to see those fruits in my earthly lifetime.
Is there any more magnificent example of holy mothering than that of the Blessed Virgin? I think not. She was careful to protect her son and her Savior when she evaded Herod’s torturous edict, escaping to Egypt. However, when she found him teaching in the temple, she once again accepted his, and her, divine destiny. She allowed him the freedom to blossom into the man who would bring salvation to the world. If Mary can loosen her grasp knowing the pain her Son would suffer would pierce her own soul (Luke 2:35), then I too can take a step back from my hovering habits.
Do you consider yourself a helicopter parent? If so, what biblical lessons have you learned to help you loosen your grip over your children’s path to salvation?