I dislike helicopter parenting. Very early on my husband and I both realized, and thoroughly embraced the fact, that getting these kids out of the house sooner rather than later meant encouraging independence from the get go. We agreed to let our children have the same carefree childhood we both grew up experiencing.
As baby after baby joined the family, our children learned to fend for themselves and helped and entertained each other. All quickly learned that I simply couldn’t devote myself 100 percent of the time to their every wish and whim. I knew statistically speaking the odds were minuscule that a stranger would abduct my kids from our yard, or our car, or several blocks away while they were on a scooter ride, and so I was never anxious about such things. “Go outside and play!”, was often an order, not a suggestion on my part. Some in my family did accuse my children of being too attached to their mama regardless, but I think love of ones mother and love of living at home until you’re 35 are entirely different things, so I didn’t worry. My husband and I are both driven, independent thinkers who took action early on in our lives. I wanted my kids to be decisive action makers too.
When my fourth child stopped meeting his developmental milestones within the first year of his life, I tried to not worry. What were the chances something was actually wrong? Very slim. Even as his motor functions declined, and the doctors could not give me any reassurances, I tried to remain calm. We had three typically developing children; what were the chances our fourth would have some rare disease? Ultimately, I learned it was about 1 in 6,000. And when our fifth child was given the same diagnosis less than two years later, I stopped thinking in terms of the odds and statistics and saw the disease as it was right in front of me. Not some number, or figure, in a table, but a living child. My child was that one among thousands.
I still don’t want to be a helicopter parent. I don’t want to micromanage my children’s lives. I want to foster independence in all my children, but now because I’m raising medically fragile children, I can no longer be as carefree as I was. I find myself becoming “that mom”.
Read the rest at Accepting the Gift.