Open Letter to Helicopter Parents

I am an adult with children of my own. Two years ago my mom passed away and I thought I handled her loss very well. Recently I have figured out that my mom was a helicopter-parent.

I loved her very much but she was human, and apparently a helicopter, all at the same time. This big realisation came as I struggle with having a successful business. (Hardly a complaint I assure you, but rather an a-ha moment.) I keep seeking out others to validate me and my work. For heavens sake, this constant need for validation and acknowledgement was wearing me out and getting me nowhere.

It was in this mire of insecurity that I figured it out. My mom fixed everything for me, my teenage angst, my projects, my bedroom. Everything. She would come along and tell me in words that what I had done was great but then go ahead and add something or straighten something. Her words were drowned out by her message, “This is fine but not quite good enough.”

Shame becomes a big part of the lives of children of helicopter parents. In the moment, as a young child, I became grateful that I had a parent who would make my things better, do it better than I could. (‘it’ meaning everything from tying shoelaces to art projects to writing speeches.) In time I stopped trying so hard because I needed to give her room to make it better. As I grew older I stopped finishing projects and I started procrastinating. Her approach caused me to stop trying so that I could save face, so that I could not have my best work improved upon.  In the last decade I have found that I am very good at what I do but in equal measure I do not feel good at what I do.

A significant part of being a productive adult and effective learner is not only being competent but more importantly, feeling competent. Children of parents who, with love and great intention, do too much for their children raise children who never feel good enough, always feel some shame about their work whether it is in their career, hobbies, running a home, relationships.

I am working on this now that I have identified it. I hope to not bother my friends with insecurities as much anymore. I hope to be comfortable with my skills and talents.

Author: Lauren Edmunds – Copyright

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