Helicopter Parenting (The Good Kind)

(Inside: Why ordinary parenting has a significant impact on kids.)

I raised my head in anticipation as the hum of the helicopter grew louder. Back and forth it rocked. I knew the pilot, my dad, was saying hello from the sky. It’s one of my best childhood memories. 

It’s true.

Except it’s not totally true.

Recently, my dad and I reminisced about his days as an Air Force rescue pilot. I told him I have fond memories of moving from one military base to the next and especially of the faithful back and forth greetings. 

(My dad flying over Rejavik, Iceland. We were stationed in Keflavik, Iceland for two years.)

Dad: “Oh, yes. That only happened when we lived in Korea. We couldn’t really see anyone on the ground. When we flew over the base, we sometimes rocked our helicopter to say a general hello.”

Me: “What?” 

Me (Searching for words.): 

Me (Still confused.):

Me: “Really? You didn’t rock your helicopter at any other military bases we lived?”

Dad: “No. Just Korea.”

What, the what? He couldn’t see me? (Of course, he couldn’t see me. But, I felt like he could see me.) And only in Korea? I was pre-school age. I’m not even sure if I have any real memories from there.

So I paused and thought. 


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Nope. I couldn’t come up with one memory that wasn’t assembled from other peoples’ stories. Well, crazy bowl of inaccurate recollections…

…I had to laugh. Did I really think I was so important to my dad he thought of me while piloting? That he would rock expensive Air Force equipment just for me? But actually, I kind of did. He never made me feel any different.

Mamas we’re in the thick of it. Knee deep in peanut butter sandwiches, carpooling to kids’ activities, homework help, and daily repeating: brush your teeth, help with the dishes, pick up your clothes, time for dinner… (No, not 5 minutes from now…come now.) Then in it all we lose our cool because our kid licked the peanut butter off the knife and returned it to the jar. (Cue instant mommy guilt.) It’s easy to feel our every day isn’t impactful.

Yet, here’s what we’re really doing… 

When we pack their lunches, we’re reminding them we consistently provide for them. When we take them to their activities, we are telling them we support their growth and interests. When we call them for dinner, we are giving them a place to daily unpack their thoughts and be heard. When we make them do school work, we’re relaying their education and future are important to us. When we give them boundaries, we’re providing a sense of security. When we require they help with chores and family responsibilities, we’re cultivating a strong work ethic. When we work through family conflict, we are teaching them in a protected place to learn to deal with life’s inevitable waves. 

Dr. Leman hooked me when he said something like this not exact quote in the intro of his book, "Don't let the experts tell you how to parent. Trust yourself." (Yes, please. I'd like to hear more of what you have to say.) I loved Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.   On my shelf to read next are The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are and Have a New Kid By Friday. He gives practical, fantastic advice that will empower you.

Then, their solid home base gives them the confidence to eventually spread their wings and let them catch the wind. They’ll use what they learn from us in the real world. It’ll be passed down to their kids, grandkids, great-grandkids… And passed horizontally to their friends, relationships, co-workers… Our impact keeps rolling. A mom's ordinary love leaves an extraordinary legacy.

Stay the course, strong mamas. Your kids won’t remember the tough moments with the same type of I’m-a-failure-as-a-mother-because-(insert what gives you mommy guilt)-intensity you will. They’ll remember a mom who loved them and was there for them. They’ll remember a mom who always rocked her helicopter at them, even if in fact she did not.


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PS - I think you would also like this related article: How You Unknowingly Made a Huge Impact Today

Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

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