I started this morning looking through parenting articles. From time to time, I share stuff I read that may offer encouragement to other parents on my Facebook author account, as well as on Twitter. I stumbled on several that addressed a newly coined phrase that I found interesting.
As I tried to wrap my head around this anti-helicopter approach, I found myself wading through multiple articles th
at offered vague descriptions of the value of staying “just under the surface” in the lives of our children, all the while bashing the micro-managing that has become the modus operandi of many.
It was a little infuriating, truth be told.
Three Google pages into offered-articles, I found that this new way of raising our offspring is already being criticized and has been “proven” to cause harm to the precious psyches of our kids.
I added none of these articles to my Facebook page nor my Twitter account because this bashing and endorsing is so far out-of-hand and I just could not pass on temporary advice about parenting styles, and their impact, to others today. I shared none of these articles because, for goodness sake, most folks are just doing the best they can and it is beyond ridiculous to have “researchers” constantly telling us that what we are doing is causing harm to our kids.
Don’t we kinda know this anyway?
Nineteen years ago, I started this parenting journey with my first-born in my arms. There was no way to hold 8 lbs, 5 oz of brand new human and not stare right into the face of vulnerability.
His, and mine.
And for the past 19 years, I have walked beside that boy and his siblings and really tried to do the best I can. There are times when I have helicopter-parented and, to be honest, I offer no apology for this. None. These four children matter more to me than anything I have ever been involved in and I want to do right by them. I want them to have opportunities and I want the bar held high. And then raised. Tiger parenting? Sure. I will take it. I drive them to lessons and practices and rehearsals. I have gone over more spelling words than I believed existed and have relearned how to do multiplication and division to meet the new math standards. And, there were times, when knowing that heartbreak was near, I stayed close, though unseen, and prepared more for the catching of a disappointed child than the saving him or her from such. I have submarine-parented as I practiced gut-wrenching and necessary letting go, while remaining close enough to deny a drowning. I have been a free-range momma as I let my kids do things others refuse to release. My children have gone to Chicago with friends and walked a dog without a parent and I have been criticized for both. I believed they were ready for these, and other independent activities, and wanted to trust that we had prepared them well.
In nearly two decades of intentionally teaching and raising these four precious children, I have danced through many parenting styles because different moments require different responses. My husband and I have looked into their faces and sincerely done what we felt was best, at that time, for that child. Again and again and again.
And we have, sometimes… often… screwed up.
And, get this…
No matter what parenting style we are in the process of using, we will still screw up. There is not one approach that will save your child or mine from the inevitability of living with other people who are not, on this day nor any other, perfect. Not one. No matter what we do, some “researcher” will figure out how we could have been more loving, more structured, more present or LESS of any of these.
So, stop looking down your nose at the folks who are all around you, doing the best they can. And if you are out there, sincerely giving this a go, stop looking down on yourself. Each of us has come face to face with that wondrous, beautiful, infant vulnerability and each of us has found ourselves at the end of what we know. There may be many ways to parent poorly and there are plenty of things that are downright wrong. But, feeling like a failure because you are choosing to hover above your child or below him? Let it go.
When all is said and done, I hope to have four children who know, without a doubt, that they are deeply loved. I want them to know that someone cared enough to teach them what they need to know and nurtured them to become the people they are meant to be. I hope they look back on their childhood and believe that they were wanted not just as infants, but as people. I want them to know that their momma supported them and showed up at the things that mattered in their young lives. I want them to remember growing up in a place that nurtured their faith and taught them the importance of understanding that the world is a big place and they will play a part today and in the future. I want them to believe that they belong and that they matter and that our family is what it is because we are in it together.
In years of parenting, I have learned a lot of things. I am doing what I know to be best for my kids today. I cannot save them from me or from their upbringing. Each of them will look back and see where we have let them down or wounded them and there is no way to keep them from that, regardless of which approach we apply.
However, They will also look back and revel in so much good. So much. We have shared millions of moments of regular life lived intentionally, all the while loving one another well.
So, call me what you will. Tell me how I am failing. Chart the damages done by the way I love and raise my kids. I am not accountable to the judgement of others. I am, however, accountable to the four beautiful babies who have been placed into my arms. And, above all, I am accountable to the One who entrusted me with each.
Yep, call me what you will. But, I will not answer to helicopter, submarine, free-range or tiger. I have four kids who call me momma, a word they use with no one else. It is a simple name with a complicated meaning. And its who I choose to be.
Blessings on your day.