Doctor Love: Helicopter Parent

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020


Dear Doctor Love, My sister calls me a helicopter mom because I try to protect my seven-year old son from things that will hurt him. She says that I have made him completely dependent on me and that my constant worry about his safety is stopping him from having a normal childhood doing the things that most little boys his age are allowed to do.
His teachers say he is a timid boy who cannot interact with other kids without it ending with my son storming about, complaining and crying.
All I want to do is make life easier for him than it was for me. His father left before he was born, and I don’t want him to suffer because he is from a single parent home. I have tried to shield him from pain and unhappiness, but my family thinks I take it too far.
Am I messing up, is it too late to change him?
/s/Helicopter Mom

 

 

Dear Helicopter Mom,
It’s never too late to start giving your child the tools he will need to grow and flourish, but it’s really you who needs to make a change.
It’s tough raising a child as a single parent—it’s natural to feel guilt that his father is not there to be part of his life. You can’t change that, so move forward. It is also natural to want to make sure your child is safe and healthy—to a point.
You cannot prepare against everything bad that will come his way. He’s going to get hurt, fall off his bike or even break a bone. Parents don’t want these things to happen to their children, but broken bones mend and cuts heal and growth through experience happens along the way. Kids have to be allowed to take age appropriate risks throughout their lives.
You need to take stock of what you do for him that he should be doing himself. Look at the normal childhood activities that you prevent him from doing and gradually start allowing him to do these things. If you feel like you want to help him when he struggles with something like a homework project, leave the room and let him work it out for himself.
It will take time for both of you to adjust. Give yourself one month, three month and six-month goals to let you both catch up to what a seven-year old should be doing and at the same time, give him a few small responsibilities.
You will feel so proud the first time he comes running into the house yelling, “Mom, I did it!”

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