“My mom needs a boyfriend or a new hobby!” I heard The Boy shout at the top of his lungs when my sister and niece visited us a few weeks ago. “She is focusing too much attention on what I’m doing, not doing, and how I do anything! Can you talk to your sister? Like, Bruh, chill!”
My sister, a mother to a 22-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter (The Girl), smiled before responding to her nephew’s plea for help. “Rashaad, you could just do what your mother asks you to do! Then you wouldn’t have to hear about everything you’re not doing.” The Boy stared at her with an expression of defeat before he wrapped his aunt in a rare embrace and begged her for help. He whispered, “Please, please talk to her. I’m your favorite nephew.” To which she replied, “You’re my only nephew.”
The Girl was observing the exchange between her mother and cousin. She found me in the kitchen and shared her thoughts. “Auntie, I think you are getting on The Boy’s nerves. He is in there asking my mom to talk to you about this college stuff.” The Girl patted me on my shoulder, shook her head in disapproval, and walked away laughing at my expression. “It’s okay, Auntie, my mom is annoying, too.” My sister nodded, and then said, “Give The Boy a break! He is only going into his sophomore year, and it’s summer.”
It was at this moment I realized I was being a helicopter parent, focusing on the goals we set at the beginning of the summer. I was over-involved in his life, telling him how he should be spending his time, pushing him to think about college majors, and rewriting his scholarship essays. I was putting unnecessary stress on him and taking the fun out of our summer plans.
To reform my helicopter parenting ways, I took a step back and reflected on how I could parent him differently:
Overhearing the candid exchange with The Boy, alongside the perceptive observations of The Girl, highlighted the importance of allowing children to find their own way while still offering guidance. Recognizing the potential pitfalls of helicopter parenting, I chose self-reflection and transformation. Embracing the lessons learned fosters an environment in which The Boy can flourish, make decisions, and pursue his passions autonomously. By channeling my energy toward my personal goals, recognizing his accomplishments, and adapting my approach, I am striving to strike the essential balance required to offer him the genuine support he needs.