Monday, October 19, 2015

     I am 72 years old, and I had a “helicopter” Dad before anyone ever coined the term. I am here to tell you that this was not a good thing. I loved my Dad—-worshipped him, actually, for many reasons. The bottom line, however, is that my Dad wanted me to grow into this perfect being who would make him proud and be everything he believed I could be plus what he himself could have been. He wanted to protect me because he came out of World War II with a philosophy that living for the moment was essential, but planning for the future was even more important. As a result, I was like his piece of clay. He molded me year by year into his work of art. Because I loved him, I wanted to please, so I just did whatever he
said without question. As I grew into young adulthood, I began questioning some of his ideas, but he already had a spell over me, so my own thoughts were thrown aside as frivolous or impractical. I can honestly say that I never made an important decision on my own until my late thirties when I decided to leave my husband. Needless to say, that wasn’t a popular decision.

    My point is not to criticize my father who did what he did out of pure love, nor is it to paint myself as an idiot. My point is that the “helicopter parenting” that was written up on the front page of our morning paper has its downsides. A professor from Stanford University says that college students today are brilliant, but they don’t know how to take care of themselves and make their own decisions. Hmm. She says parents call their children several times a week and hover even when they are old enough to be on their own, making responsible choices.  Parents are afraid that our children will make the wrong decisions sometimes, so we want to step in and “advise” them. Mine went too far to the point of almost crippling me. It was out of love. I cannot imagine, however, my parents calling me every day or even every week when I was a college student. I took great pride in not going home for the week-end, as I saw that as being a ninny. I have friends my age who to this day call their adult children daily. 

    As hard as it is, we must let our children make mistakes, fall on their faces, have a crisis or ten. That is how they grow. That is how they learn what life is all about. I learned more in the eight years I was a single mom than I did in all the years before combined. I learned how to cry for hours and know I was going to be all right and that I was not weak, just sad. I learned how to survive paying my Visa with my Master Card until I got out of debt. I learned how to put two daughters through school working four jobs. I learned how to accept my flaws, forgive my mistakes and keep on truckin’. I learned that there are consequences to every action, and I knew I had to let my daughters learn that for themselves. I made many mistakes, and they have made a few themselves, but we are three strong women who know who we are and what we are about. We aren’t perfect, nor do we strive to be. (I’m still working on this one). We know our strengths and accept our weaknesses. We are resilient, and we know no matter what happens, no one can break our spirits. We don’t need anyone in a helicopter figuring it out for us:)