relinquishing my pilot’s license

My name is Penny Williams… and I am a helicopter mom.
Excuse me, was a helicopter mom. I have been working very hard to reform this behavior and relinquish my pilot’s license. I hate to fly anyway!
By definition, a helicopter parent is “a mother or father that hovers over a child; an overprotective parent.”
Yep, that’s me alright.I am was a master hoverer.
Luke’s ADHD counselor, Ms. Karen, has been harping at me for nearly a year now that I “need to let him fail at some point.” I need to step back, let Luke do whatever he can/will, at whatever success level comes with it, and then experience the natural consequences. I have been arguing debating this point with her for many months.
“You want me to let me child fail?!”
This goes against my very nature. I am a worrier by genetics and environment. I have always been fairly high anxiety, especially in social situations. My #1 motivation much of the time is fear… fear of failing, fear of being less than perfect, fear of being judged by others… I think we are all driven by fear to some degree, but arguably a lesser degree than I am.I cringe at the thought of my child feeling physical pain. I can be driven to tears imagining their feelings getting hurt. And then the unthinkable, kidnapping or worse, sends me into a tailspin. Why would I let that happen if I can prevent it? My job as “mom” is to protect my children, to stand between them and harm.
Admittedly, I have taken that too far though. I am really a textbook hoverer. I over-think every scenario. I weigh the pros and cons days in advance for every situation I think there’s even the slightest possibility will surface. I try to anticipate the severity of the risk. For heaven’s sakes, my children do not go outside to play AT ALL at our house because a few times a year we see black bears at our house. The bears have never approached when we were outside. They are only around our house approximately 1/100th of the year. Those odds aren’t bad and yet I focus on the what-ifs until my head spins and the thought of letting them outside here seems like child abuse or potential manslaughter by bear or something. What have I been thinking?
Ms. Karen’s point though, and it’s a good one, is not to push him aside and let him fail or let him get hurt. It’s that I have to teach him the skills, and then step back and let him figure things out for himself. Not only will this force him to step up and do the work, but it will also give him the breathing room to find his own compensatory measures for ADHD. After all, kids are most successful when they do things their own way. Aren’t we all?
At some point over the summer I awoke to the reality that I am a helicopter mom,  interfering in my children’s lives entirely too much.Of course, it’s my job to care for them, but it’s not my job to do everything for them and forsee every danger. I cannot put them in a bubble and lock out the world so they don’t experience hurt. Hurt is a part of life and mistakes teach us valuable lessons and make us stronger. Babying them can actually make them weak.
I realized that hovering over Luke’s every move, poised and ready to cushion his fall or prevent emotional pain, was really holding him back. It was also fuel for arguments and power struggles. I was setting the fuse for repeat explosions.
There’s been a measurable improvement since I relinquished my pilot’s license and stopped hovering. Just look at how much of an improvement Luke is experiencing in school versus last year. He has managed to meet or exceed expectations in behavior 80% or more of the time (after the first two weeks of settling in and adjustment). He just got Blue/Purple (exceeding expectations) again today for the third time in 10 days. Blue/Purple is supposed to be hard to achieve. If I had gone in and told his teacher all about his needs before school started, he’d have his own tailored, and complicated behavior system. Yet, leaving him to discover and try lead him to doing great under the behavior system all of his peers use. He’s happier doing things as his peers do, I assure you. I had to sit on my hands, zip my lips, and let him try. It was easier than I thought it would be too, because I’d already had the revelation it was better for him.
My son is actually a happier kid since I quite hovering over and around him all the time. Emma is happier too (although she is learning how much mom really did to keep her on track the hard way, middle school, {ugh}). And Daddy and I are certainly happier not feeling like we have to worry so much about the fate of our munchkins. While I have never had a broken bone (knocking fiercely on my wood desk right now), it is a part of childhood. Sorry mom, I have to say this, I likely didn’t have this “childhood injury” because my mom was overprotective too.

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.
A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

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Related posts:

adhd and school, behavior modification, celebrating gifts, General ADHD, organization, parenting/FAMILY, Penny Williams, school failure, treatment ·

About the author

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom. A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom's view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

4 Comments

  1. dmd says:

    I don't consider myself a helicopter mom, although I have been a little helicopter-ish this school year, largely because I felt I didn't hover enough last year; didn't push for a diagnosis; didn't try to find solutions for his challenges. So I've met with all of his teachers this year, emailed regularly, and stayed on top of things. But I'm trying to pull back a little now for just the reasons you are talking about – I want him to figure out his own accommodations and what work works for him. I can't take a math test for him. I can't write his report for him. He's got to got to own his own work and take responsibility. He has accommodations and he has meds. Now it's up to him.

    Reply
  2. I wish I could find a ADHD counselor in my area.. for me and my son.. how do I do this? yellow pages? My son's neurologist is so new to the area that he does not have any one to recommend yet…
    I love the way you started this post.. very funny at the same time.. as serious… My son loves the rock climbing thing.. wish I had one in my back yard
    lisa

    Reply
  3. @Nf1andprek-whisper

    I call our specialist a counselor because she's not a psych. She is actually a social worker and a therapist of some sort, but not a psych. That's confusing and she counsels us, so I just call her our ADHD counselor. She is in a group of mental health providers. We were referred there for treatment for ADHD by our pediatrician. So I'd start with the pediatrician first and ask for a referral. As archaic as it sounds, if you can't get a recommendations from the pediatrician, I would look in the yellow pages for children's mental health providers. Then search the internet to see what you can learn about them. Your pediatrician should be able to steer you in the right direction though.

    I wish there was a neurologist in town that treated ADHD — we don't have one. As well, I wish insurance covered integrative medicine. But we are doing pretty well with what we have to work with right now.

    Penny

    Reply
  4. I had a similar discussion with Javi's 2nd grade teacher. She (gently) convinced me that it's not *good* for a kid to be pushed and prodded and forced into being an A+ student when he is naturally an A/B student. And she was right.

    We were screwing up our relationship with him and his relationship with himself by trying to make him “perfect” and eliminate anything “bad.”

    What we learned was that his own “perfect” was enough. We have to love him, and teach him to love himself, for who he is. We'd given him the skills, it was time to let him shine on his own.

    Dude. It's still tough!

    Reply

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The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

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