Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blow Dryers and Helicopters

Lessons learned - from the new mom to helicopter parents.

After our first son was born; the nurse came to our room, assuming she should take the baby out of the room while I blow-dried my hair. Looking down at my son and glancing skeptically at the blow-dryer, I replied, ‘why?’ then quickly adding, “I do this at home too, he might as well get used to it.”

Our fervent desire to protect our children needs to be balanced. We need to be conscious of what we’re protecting them from. Otherwise our children grow up in a bubble, separated from the realities of life, not learning how to respond to failure or frustration. How will they know how to accept defeat graciously or win with humility if they aren’t ‘allowed’ to fail? How do they learn to recover, if they never have anything to recover from?

Some parents morph into ‘helicopter’ parents, they constantly hover. They swoop in and protect before any harm or foul. These choppers land stocked with accusations, reasons and excuses; whatever’s needed to prevent the sting.

Sadly, they’re preventing their child from learning to grow from the experience. Their children miss learning that basic physics lesson in life: ‘for every action, there is a re-reaction.’

Hair dryers blow when naps are needed, tests studied for aren’t always passed, and team rosters won’t always have their name. These things happen. Our children will make many bad choices along the way. People get hurt. No one is perfect, their stumbles, and the lessons learned in picking themselves up are worth the tears and fears in the moment.

Jabbing a fork in a plug absolutely requires our immediate and speedy intervention.

Being passed over for the dodge ball team, does not.

Loving and supporting them, walking with them through the repercussions of their actions - always.

From my perspective, protecting children from every little thing isn’t protection. Doing this teaches kids to spend their lives avoiding any chance of failure, pain or making a mistake, which is an exhausting endeavor and destined to fail. Unfortunately, when failure does happen, they won’t know what hit them.

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