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Hope for the Helicopter Mom

Trust your kids and try not to overdo it.

My name is Donna F., and I am a helicopter mom.  I have many children, so one would think my condition was inevitable. On the contrary, early in my parenting endeavor, I just didn’t let my kids go anywhere. When they were young, our yard was big enough to please them.

However, at about 12 or 13, they were hankering to get out the gate. Often, I relented as long as they weren’t alone. At this point, the symptoms were self-evident. Rubber-necking over the fence until I saw them turn the corner, preparations for exit in case of sirens, a reasonable respite while they got to Walgreen’s, did some candy shopping and make their way back to the corner where I could see them. If they violated this inner timetable, the heart palpitations began, my face became flushed (this was before perimenopause) and a host of tragic scenarios sprung from my very active imagination; until, of course, I saw their smiling faces come around the corner. Then I would decompress and try to act like I didn’t freak out at all. No need to worry the kiddies.

I think my condition worsened with the acquisition of cell phones. I let out the leash further with the older kids, the younger ones still stayed inside the gate. I called often, checking up on them. I had all their friends’ numbers. Their friends, being nice as they are, were very patient with my affliction. I prided myself in knowing where each of the ten was. They may have hated me for it though.

I knew I had a problem when I took to texting like a kid takes to Halloween candy. I admit I scoffed at this new form of communication at first; but once I started, there was no stopping. Good thing for me, my children prefer texting to verbal communication. We’ve had many heart-to-hearts via text. I have a collection of favorite texts from my kids. Some are heartwarming. Very few are severe. It may be a little harder for them to text “I hate you” than it is to say it.  Yet, I noticed that even this good thing has limitations.     

One time, my older son went into the City on a date. He told me from the get-go that I was allowed five texts. This is where helicopter mom syndrome (HMS) becomes serious. That was a hard night, but I survived with the five texts. I timed them carefully. One – arrive safely? Son – yep. Two – have enough money? Son – yep. Three – don’t be alone in the house? Son – yep, that’s three, Mom. Four (after I waited awhile, lest I push it) - what train will you be on? (I had to get him at the bus stop.) Son – idk. (Yikes! Breathe, just breathe.)  Five – Where the hell are you? This particular child feels it is necessary at times to teach his mother to not worry. So he didn’t answer that one for awhile. Next text from him – be at bus stop in 20 mins. Relief. Don’t you just love teenagers!

Although I am still in the throes of helicopter mom syndrome (having four teenagers still at home), I have learned to trust them, trust them to respond to my texts, trust them and their abilities to get around and trust them to keep their cell phones charged. Once in awhile, I have to fall into Childhood Mother Mode (CMM) when their phones do die or I cannot locate them. When I was growing up, my parents assumed I was at school and then would head home. They didn’t worry if I had missed the bus; they figure I’d get home eventually. So when all my helicopter mom devices are of no use, I have to just trust (and pray). Maybe that’s what parenting comes down to anyway.

JB October 18, 2012 at 01:23 PM
This is funny. I have a 6 and 9 year old, and I have HMS. I see no hope for me. I love the GPS tracking on cell phones and I can't wait for what more technology will bring by the time they are old enough to have cell phones and "leave the gate".
Alfonso Esqueda October 18, 2012 at 03:41 PM
We all have to adapt to the way the world is changing. Pedophiles and perverts have adapted with technology and we must become vigilant by adapting also. the only thing that must not change is a good ole ass whooping.
Karin Cunningham October 18, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Donna, Your post could not have come at a better time! I have a 13 year old boy and 9 year old girl. The older is just recently over the fence...walking home from school with friends, hanging out at Wendy's after school (for about 15 mins max), going to movies without me...it has me "helicoptering"!! It's nice to see that I'm not alone! :)
Judy October 19, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Good work all you Helicopter Moms. I feel there isn't enough HMS. Don't let anyone tell you you're "overprotective", that's our job.. My children are grown up and now they do appreciate all the Helicoptering I did. In fact my daughter has said that she's probably going to be worse than me, that's coming from a person that on many occasions didn't like me that much. . . . and yes, now that they are on their own all I can do is pray, pray, pray and keep praying. It's not that we don't trust them, we don't trust their surroundings. So, Donna F and all the mothers, keep on Helicoptering, that's our job.

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