Definition of HELICOPTER PARENT (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
: a parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child
Is that a problem? Is it really possible to be overly involved in the life of your child? The answer is YES!
There are certainly situations that require more parental involvement than others. Newborns need complete care, yet it is generally beneficial to allow babies some time away from mom. This may be leaving them in a room alone, letting them have “tummy time” without the parent holding them, and even allowing them to cry a bit if the parent is sure that the child is safe and secure.
Special needs children may require constant monitoring, as do children who are ill. There may be times when a child is afraid or has experienced trauma and loving attention is beneficial. It is important not to judge the attention a parent pays a child when you may not know the circumstances that initiate the behavior or the parent’s response.
The term “helicopter parent” has emerged in our culture to describe parents who are orchestrating their child’s life for them – or attempting to do so. This leads to many adverse results. Children will learn that they are not responsible for their actions – “mom will fix it for me.” They may begin to believe that they are not capable of making decisions or problem solving. The most devastating result will be their lack of recognizing God as the Good Shepherd who desires to lead and guide them throughout life.
I was reading about the mother of James and John, the disciples Jesus referred to as the ‘sons of thunder’. Their mother was a follower of Jesus herself. She, along with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James followed Jesus cared for His needs.
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down asked a favor of him.
21 “What is it you want?” He asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
Can you imagine going up to Jesus, the Son of God, and asking Him for a “favor” for your child? Mary had seen Jesus do miracles and she obviously believed that Jesus had the authority in Heaven as well as on earth.
Jesus’ response was interesting. He asked a question, as he often did when someone asked Him a question. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” When they said yes, He agreed, yet told them He was not the one to grant position in Heaven.
Mary, a true helicopter mom, wanted the BEST for her sons. She knew Jesus was the Messiah. Yet she, along with all the disciples did not realize that suffering would be part of what they faced as His followers. Mary most likely believed Jesus would set up an earthly kingdom as the promised Messiah and free God’s people from bondage.
It sounds as if Mary was trying to plan her sons’ lives and make sure they were situated for the positions they “deserved” in God’s kingdom. Yet in reflecting on this, I realized that I have prayed MANY times for God to smooth things out, even intervene on behalf of my children. In looking at my own heart – I have been a helicopter mom myself. I have asked Jesus for privilege on behalf of my children.
Instead of being the “helicopter mom”, I must learn to pray “Thy will be done” and intend it with my whole heart. It means my child faces suffering in the future. It means putting God’s will above everything and everyone else. It also means God accomplishes His plan in our children’s lives. The apostle Paul says,
2 Timothy 1:11-13 (NIV)
11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know Whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
My most important responsibility as a mother is to entrust my children to God’s faithfulness.