The Hovering Helicopter

Helicopter Parents. I’ve read articles about them, and how not to be one, and I try.  I’m sure in some ways I am, because I worry about the girls.  But I’ve always tried to let them solve their own problems, because I won’t always be able to help.

When Oldest One was in 6th grade – I think – she ran for a class office.  We made posters, and helped her write her speech…the usual parent things.  Problems came about when the girl she was running against started to take Oldest One’s signs down and put them in the trash, and started bad mouthing her.  Oldest One told us about it, and that the principal had called the other girl in, and her parents were called.  We talked about it, and how she felt, and what she could do about it.  Ultimately the other girl won, and Husband bought a beautiful vase filled with flowers for Oldest One to cheer her up, and which did put a smile on her face.  A co-worker berated me the next day, saying I should have made a big deal of what the other girl did, and I should have demanded she be taken out of the running.  Basically, she was saying I didn’t do enough.  I told my co-worker I could have done all of that, but what would my child have learned?  Life isn’t always easy, people aren’t always nice, and you don’t always win.  Better for her to find those things out now, and learn to cope, then to be a 20-something having a major meltdown at her first job.  Oh, and Oldest One went on to hold offices in high school, so, yes, it all worked out.

This was all brought to mind as I texted Oldest One today. Although she went and paid her parking ticket last week, it is still showing on her Bursar account.  I have to pay the balance on the account today, and I’m not including the ticket, since I know it’s paid.  I texted her to remind her to go to the Bursar’s Office with the receipt to have them remove the ticket charge.  She is busy today, can she go tomorrow is what I received as an answer.  She can, but there might bet a late charge, so I told her she needed to make sure it was removed along with the ticket.

Could I call the Bursar’s office myself? I could, although since she is 18 I don’t know if they would talk to me.  But I don’t want to.  She needs to start handling this stuff herself.  I’m reminding her, but ultimately she has to do it herself.  She needed to go to Student Health, so I told her to take her insurance card, pay for the visit with her debit card, and I’d put the money in her account to cover it.  Because she is old enough to make the appointment herself.  She still needs our help, and our advice, but she is at college now, and needs to start doing things and figuring out things.  I haven’t talked to any professors or her advisor, because I shouldn’t.  I don’t want to either.  But I’ve suggested she do it, when the situation seemed to indicate it would help, and she did, and it was a good result for her.

Letting go is tough. Kids grow up too fast for us parents, and our instinct is to throw our arms around them and protect them from the world.  Doing everything for them is one of the ways to do this.  But it doesn’t help the kids grow and learn, and understand what to do next time.  I’m always just a phone call away, and I’ll always stop what I’m doing to listen and to chat.  But it’s time for her to start making her own appointments, and to figure out how to get the Bursar to remove a charge that has already been paid.  Bigger challenges are on the way, and if we don’t give our kids a chance to conquer the little stuff, how can we expect them to be prepared for just living?

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