Since it’s the holiday season we thought we’d give eager parents a little holiday gift this year. Permission to helicopter.
Typically, I’m not one to celebrate helicoptering. Helicopter parents have been know to tell professors to change their kids’ grades or call their kids’ employer about missed work. I was once hiring at a career fair and a 75-plus year old mom wobbled by, struggling to walk on a cane, looking for a job on behalf of her 40 year old son. We can agree. There are helicopter parents who go entirely too far. And plenty of time has been spent talking about them
I want to talk about a different side to helicopter parents: the upside.
It’s hard to believe that hovering parents, wildly overconfident that their kid is special, cutting crusts off of bread, constantly at school–whether they are wanted there or not–have an upside. They do.
Here’s the deal. It is normal for any species to care for their young. They may care for their community or pack as well, but most often their own offspring comes first. Humans are no different.
And when these helicopter parents are hovering and swooping, they can, at their best, be a benefit to all.
At Possip we have seen helicopter parents provide value to all students. Maybe they want to see a soccer team at their kids’ school. They begin advocating, then fundraising, then coaching a soccer team that then can benefit all kids.
They are at the school volunteering and they hear how someone talks with a kid and say, “we wouldn’t want someone talking to our kid that way,” and it becomes a learning opportunity for the school.
They see all the behind the scenes work a teacher or principal is doing, and take the time to celebrate and praise that person.
Even outside of school, helicopter parents can be helpful. They may be helping kids work through a challenge on the playground (and though it’s true that kids should work through their own problems, sometimes kids need some help and guidance to navigate social relationships). Those helicopter parents are there for their kid, but they come to know and learn and support your kid.
So if you are high drama, constantly negative, prone to hysteria, talking to your kids’ employers or professors on their behalf, won’t believe that your kid could tell a lie or be mean to another kid, bribing your adult kid to never leave your home, doing job searches for your kid, or getting involved in teenage drama, stop helicoptering. This post isn’t for you (and what you’re doing isn’t helping your kid).
But if you are there asking great questions, making good pushes, supporting your kid and other people’s kids, advocating for your kid (and not at the expense of other kids), giving your kids the things in their childhood that you may not have had in yours, go forth and prosper.
Helicopters aren’t all bad. They use them to life flight people to the hospital, get a view over volcanoes, find hard to find people, navigate the complicated terrains, and park just about anywhere.
They have their use. You have yours.
Helicopter on. It’s our holiday gift to you :-).