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Archive for March 30th, 2022

In 1969 the term Helicopter Parent (HP) was first coined in a book called “Between Parent & Teenager.” But it was in the 1990s when the phrase became part of our conversations.

This generation planned play dates, scheduled extracurricular sports, lessons and tutoring, pushed towards a failure-resistant future. HPs are known for being over-involved in their children’s friendships, schooling (even university), housing (of adults) and future plans.

Since I entered the realm of parenting in the early 90s, I am part of the generation of parents who were considered ones who hovered over our children (though I am from Generation X, not the typical Boomers, who represent the copter parents). We are the first generation who notoriously feared for our children’s every move. Our elementary-aged children were not typically ones who left the house after breakfast and not return until lunchtime.

The thing is, helicopters eventually need to land.

The same could be said for parenting.

Chuck Yeager (a pilot who broke the sound barrier) said,

“If you want to grow old as a pilot,
you’ve got to know when to push it,
and when to back off.”

He could have been speaking, equally, about parenting. For, even those of us who have spent our parenting years hovering over our kids, eventually need to land … backing away from the controls, allowing them to take total control of their own flights.

And, you know what, there will be dangers, and uncertainties, and failures, and life-altering decisions … this is part of life and living … and it is the only way for one to learn their own way.

As I was reading interesting facts about aviation, something stood out to me.

Periodically, pilots on a plane place the controls in the hands of George, saying, “George is flying the plane now.” George is simply reference to the autopilot system of preprogrammed direction, speed, etc. This gives the pilot opportunity to address other issues related to flying.

When I read about this I found myself snickering, thinking that perhaps we helicopter parents need to rely on George, the autopilot … or, by another name, on God, the co-pilot of all of our lives. This is the only way to back off wisely.

What our adult children need most is not security from harm, heartbreak and failures, but opportunity to learn from their mistakes, build resilience in relationships that don’t always go as hoped and develop an understanding that failure is ways we learn. All of that leads each of us to look for someone to be our co-pilot … God.

Helicopter parents, it’s time to let George fly.

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