Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Helicopter Parent

I confess I am a helicopter parent. According to Jim Fay, that is the type of parent that “hovers” and rescues and worries. Actually, I am a helicopter person. I know this about myself but cannot help it. For example, I know that I should have let my children start cutting their own meat much earlier than I did. My 16 year old rarely needs to cut her own even now… it is just a habit. I do think it is easier to have everything cut up and nicely arranged on the plate before we start eating…I don’t even let Pepper cut her own usually…

I am also a champion worrier. I glance at my friends and family and can usually tell when something is bothering them. I predict when things will be a problem and try to head it off for them and save them from pain and hurt. I do not think these are necessarily bad traits… although the fact that the people in my life do not seem to possess this skill towards me is occasionally irksome.

This morning was a challenge for this helicopter person. Dori is struggling in English. It is an AP class and not easy. Believe it or not, because we have 5 kids we went to 23 conferences in the last 2 days. Our ratio: 22 good ones to one bad one is pretty good. But it is really hard to just let the one slide when I know Dori could be doing well in the class. Her teacher told us that she had a “major paper” due in class on Wednesday. He had assigned it a good month ago and it would help or hurt her grade tremendously. Dori started writing it at 4 PM on Tuesday afternoon. This behavior stresses me. Pepper and I bite our tongues trying to let her do things her way. Amazingly, she completed the entire paper (with only a few frustrating incidents) by 10 PM. She made two copies and asked me to read it over. I thought it looked pretty darn good. Before she shut the computer off I told her she should email a copy of it to herself as a back-up. She looked like she was going to tell me that was unnecessary, but she did it anyway.

Dori does not take long to get ready for the school bus. The other kids start trying to get her up 30 minutes or so before the bus comes. She usually gets up 25 minutes later and comes flying downstairs to grab her phone with about 30 seconds to spare. To her credit, she made the bus this morning… without the paper. She called and text me several times during her bus ride trying to convince me to drive her paper to the school. Pepper and I talked about how easy it would be to just take her the paper… but she has not been taking responsibility for her actions and is not treating her family in a very loving manner right now. We decided she had the ability to solve this problem on her own.

She had her emailed copy of the paper that would prove she had done the work. She could get to a computer in the lab or library to print the paper again. Formatting would be a bit off (one of her biggest concerns) but she could do it.

According to the other kids, she was pretty mad at me on the bus. I am sure I am no where near the top of her ‘faves’ list at this point. There may be a bit of the silent treatment over this Thanksgiving break… but I think knowing she can handle a stressful situation, take responsibility and problem solve on her own is important. She will probably never know how much stress I was feeling not caving in and just taking the paper to her. Do you think next time she will start working on her paper a little sooner? Do you think she will take responsibility and be prepared? Do you think she learned that she is so capable and so smart she does not need her helicopter Mom every step of the way? 'sigh' Me either…

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