Confessions of a Recovering Helicopter Parent

The house is quiet.  The flurry of a Tuesday morning has settled into just me and the dog and the ticking of the clock.  With the kids safely off to school, I drop my car keys on the desk and breath a transitional sigh.  What’s next for the day…

With re-heated coffee and devotional book in hand, I sit for a minute to catch my breath.  I’m just about to dig into the egg and toast I’ve whipped up and read a couple of words that might fill my soul.  And then, I see it:

My fifth-grade daughter’s band instrument.

The flute stares at me from the kitchen counter.  Taunting me.  Chiding every fiber of my Mommy heart.  It’s not even halfway hidden in the mess that is my mud room.  No, it’s haughtily sitting on the kitchen counter like it owns the place.

At that moment, I have a decision to make:

To take or not to take?

Honestly! This could not have happened to a nicer individual.  My fifth-grade princess, my number two – she is a tender-hearted gem.  The “do-anything-for-anyone” kind of girl has left behind a key component to the success of her day. The least I can do is pay it forward.  Ack!  The stress is killing me. Everything in me wants to jump up from my cushy chair, run barefoot out the door and deliver the flute to its rightful owner.  Gooey egg and warm toast, be damned! The school is only three. minutes. away.

So, what does any respectable stay at home mother do at a moment like this? I reach out for advice.  I text my husband.

We have LITERALLY just been processing the most recent book he read by Danny Silk called, “Loving Our Kids on Purpose: Making a Heart to Heart Connection.”  It’s Scott’s latest and greatest find on parenting the Love and Logic way with a Biblically based mindset. You know you’re desperate when you start reading books about parenting.  We have giggled and guffawed about the “hard-core” examples of love and logic parenting in this book.  We have implemented a few of these ideas at home with the, shall we say, slightly less responsible, slightly less compassionate members of our fold.  We have even role-played parent/child interactions for just such an occasion.  Playing the “what would we do if…” game.

Love and logic scenarios come easily when Mom wants justice.  “Vindication is mine!,” I imagine with a wry grin.  But oh, it is ever so hard, to follow through on logical consequences when the infraction doesn’t seem all that offensive.

Then again, perhaps this is the perfect time.  I am not hungry, angry, lonely, tired — or PMSing.  My daughter is only ten and the consequences to letting this one play out are relatively inconsequential.

I text Scott.  He texts back, “Has she called?”

“Not yet,” I reply.

“Wait until she calls.”

“Okay… I am headed to Bible study. We’ll see how this plays out.”

“Works out well for you.”

“Yeah, if you consider heart-break over intentional neglect ‘working out well.'”

“I know, I know,” he sympathizes. (At least, that’s how I read it.) “Hard now makes for easy later. I’d rather have hard now than easy now/hard later.”

Right.  When she’s behind the wheel of a car.  When she’s in the backseat with her boyfriend.  When she’s under the gun for a college application deadline or interviewing for her dream job.

Baby steps.  I back off and make one decision that will hopefully lead my daughter closer to a successful launch.

That settles it. Today’s the day.  I figuratively sit on my hands and resist every temptation to helicopter in and deliver the flute to school.  I decide to let this one play out and proceed with my regularly scheduled agenda.

I watch my phone to see if she calls. Nothing.  That’s the sign.  Move on, Mama. Move on.

At noon, I look at my cell phone.  Still no call.  Back in the car, heading home, I decide to check our home voicemail….

10:26 a.m.:  “Hi Mom.  I’m just calling to confirm if I’ve left my flute at home.  Bye.”

Too little too late.  The hour for band has come and gone by the time I hear her sweet voice over the machine.  Turns out I actually did it.  I resisted temptation and allowed my little bird to navigate the day on her own.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? I’m not sure what the emotional toll will be on this one.  Though the hour is nearing 3:00.  Stay tuned….

I realize my story today is relatively minor in the scheme of life, but it propels me forward and helps me reevaluate my ultimate goal: successful launching of respectful, responsible, loving adults.  I’d love to hear some of your stories from the parenting battlefield!

**Have you experienced or implemented any hard, but powerful life lesson kind of moments with your kids? 

Fortify me. I’d love to know!



EPILOGUE:  When my daughter walked out of school today, I braced myself.  Bring it on, I thought. I’ll be compassionate yet firm.  I said, “Hi honey. I’m sorry, I didn’t get your message until after band was over. You did leave your flute at home on the kitchen counter.”  With ease and nonchalance she replied, “Yeah. I was just calling to confirm it was there. You told us you weren’t going to bring anything to school if we accidentally leave it at home.”  Uh, yes. That’s right.  I guess you took me at my word…. Maybe this love and logic stuff has some merit to it after all.  Go figure.


  1. scotidomeij says:

    The helicopter parenting syndrome hard-wired into a mom’s heart doesn’t end, even when they’re adults. My twenty-something son has been learning some hard financial lessons in the last few years, resulting in his need to purchase a reliable car. And mom, who is single, has an extra car. He kept hinting for me to give it to him. I ignored his hints, even though my heart flip-flopped each time I worried, “He needs a car to drive to his work.” One day he tells me, “I want that car.” Since I’m enjoying the wonderful gas mileage, I decided I didn’t need to be the one sacrificing because of his unwise financial choices. And I wasn’t sure the car could actually make it to California. However, by this time, he’s attended a Dave Ramsey all-day event, attended every session of a Dave Ramsey course and paid off more than half of his debt and I praise him for that. And I might add, he’s never asked me for money since he’s been on his own out of state, since he was 17 when his dad died. Yet, he’s my carrot kid. So I offer a carrot to motivate him to finish paying off his debt, “When you are debt-free, and have saved X-amount of money for a car, I will give you X-amount of dollars for a downpayment on a car.” It’s so encouraging to listen to his accomplishments and plans to be debt-free.


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