A few months ago I was given a writing prompt: Write a letter of advice to your son or daughter as he/she prepares to leave the nest. Though mine aren’t quite ready to fly away, I jotted a few things down. With Mother’s Day and the last day of school on the horizon I thought I’d share.
A Letter of Apology from your Helicopter Mom
As you prepare to leave home, I’ve come to the realization that at times our house probably seemed more like a fortress with padded walls. No wonder you’re throwing things into a duffel bag like a person packing for storm evacuation, “Underwear, cell phone, laptop, Cheez-Its – screw the rest. We gotta go, NOW.”
I acknowledge the fact that I’m a helicopter mom. The whirring of my blades overhead was the white noise of your childhood. In my defense, you were my firstborn and I was scared to death. Your father and I kill plants and we often forget to feed the cats. Clearly we felt unprepared for your arrival. In retrospect, perhaps I overcompensated.
When you were 10, you turned to me and shouted, “You think you know so much about me just because you’ve read your little book? That’s right, I found it, Raising Your Spirited Child? Boy, you sure did mark a lot of pages in THAT one.” I think this comment expertly exhibits what I was up against. You’ve been a ball-buster from the get-go, but I just hugged you tighter.
Now that you’re heading out into the world to make a life for yourself, I fear I’ve inadvertently hobbled you with my close-knit parenting. Some might also call that, “smothering,” but I don’t think we need to put labels on people. I should’ve let you fall, fail and fend for yourself as a child, so you would know how to do it as an adult.
In many ways my helicopter parenting was inconsistent. I realize that now. I never let you use the oven or stove top because I was afraid you’d get burned or set the house on fire. But then when you used your birthday money to buy a laptop, I didn’t set up parental controls or even do much in the way of monitoring your internet history, partly because Windows 8 is a mystic portal that still confounds me. In your own apartment, I fear your diet will consist of microwave taquitos and endless loops of porn.