How I encouraged my child to be resilient even though I was a helicopter mum
One mum shares her journey of how she got on the road to raising independent, resilient children – even though she was a helicopter mum.
My name is Jillian. And I’m a helicopter mum. Like all parents, I value the same things as you, non-helicopter parents do. I’m all for child independence. I hope for their success one day when they venture out into the world. And I don’t want to have to hold their hand every step of the way. So in many ways, I could be you – or you could be me.
The thing is, I never thought of myself as one of those helicopter parents. All I wanted was to love my kids and provide the very best like how any mums would do
When my first precious gift came along, Little J, I made a promise. I told him that I’d never let anything bad happen to him. I would protect him and provide for him. And I would give him everything he needed.
You see, I didn’t want him to grow up like I did. When I was small, both my parents were mostly absent, and struggling with this thing called parenting. There were hard times in my childhood, and real suffering. When I finally had children of my own, I swore that they wouldn’t go through what I did. They would have parents who would be there for them.
So I became a helicopter mum. Serving my children was something that came as second nature to me. I hovered over them in the playground so they wouldn’t get booboos. I spoonfed them to ensure they got the nutrition they needed. When playdate fights broke out, I intervened so no one would get hurt. And I made sure, even in preschool, that they understood every question in their homework and got it right.
The years passed. Little J became Big J, brother to Little Miss Z. I saw nothing wrong with my parenting.
That all changed with a few casual words from one mother at school. At the drop-off area, she kissed her kids goodbye and they happily walked towards their classrooms. She watched them go until they were out of sight, turned around, and somewhat tearfully, said, “They never look back.”
Meanwhile, a few moments later, my own kid decided that he didn’t want to go to school that day. He broke down in tears at the drop-off area and refused to go to class. And I spent the next hour comforting him, as well as alternately coaxing him, begging him and threatening him to go to school.
Looking back, I saw what my parenting was doing to my children. Big J was clingy and prone to tantrums. Little Z, always sure that someone would be there for her, was scared of the dark. And both of them seemed to think that they could always get what they wanted, from treats to screen time. All the signs were there, but I paid little attention to them. And then the day came when I knew I needed to make a change.
I wanted my children to be resilient – the kind of kids who didn’t look back when they went to school, too excited for what was to come. So I decided to make a change.
After reading everything I could on the subject of child independence and resilience, I realised I was a helicopter mum. It was difficult, but I put a stop to my helicopter mum habits.
These days, I think of parenting as the long farewell.
When our babies are born, they cannot live without us. But years later, after university, or maybe even earlier, they will leave us. In between, we are constantly saying goodbye. And as parents, it’s our job to help them to do this – not hold on to them forever.
From constantly being attached to you, mums teach their children to stand, walk and run. And before you know it, your baby isn’t a baby anymore. You send your little one to primary school, and they are no longer your constant companion. You teach them to read and they get ideas of their own. Their world expands and they have friends and teachers you don’t know about. And that’s okay.
The long farewell often breaks my heart. But if one day, they go off to conquer the world with courage and determination, then I will know that I have done my job as a mum well.
It isn’t easy. I still have my helicopter mum moments. But I try to trust my kids, have courage that I taught them well, and equip them with the strength to face any challenge.
Nowadays, I don’t go overboard with controlling my children. But I do pay extra attention to the things I can. I make sure they have the right diet, and give them a healthy dose of probiotics and prebiotics. I put a focus on providing a healthy diet rich in immunity-boosting food for kids and letting them gain experience of the world. That way, when they’re out on their own, my strong and resilient children are ready for anything. Through immunity boosting food, my children will have strong mind and body – and they can experience everything the world has to offer and build their resilience.
The other day at the drop-off area, I saw Big J off as always. He doesn’t look back anymore, but that day he did. He looked back and blew me a big kiss. And that’s all I needed to know that I’m doing some things right.
To find out more about how to raise them resilient, read more parent stories here.