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"Helicopter" Parents 

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10/27/2010 

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You know what that is of course; parents who “hover” -- by some accounts excessively -- over their children. It is meant -- at least that’s my impression -- as something of a pejorative term; an insult of sorts. As if to say “toughen up mom and dad! go ahead and push them right out of that comfy nest! it’ll do ‘em some good! teach 'em independence at an early age!” -- That sort of thing.

Well let me declare right now that my wife Dotty and I are proud to BE helicopter parents. And, at least the way we’ve done it, we don’t believe it’s an insulting or negative thing at all. For we are, and have been all our kids lives, (Ryan’s our freshman at Southern!) very involved.

There is of course “hovering” as in controlling and coddling and fostering dependence; and there is “hovering” as in watchful and aware and nurturing and guiding. We’ve eschewed the first, embraced the second.

For us, hovering has included these:
-- knowing exactly where our child is at all times…
-- knowing exactly what they are watching on (when they watch) TV…
-- knowing their teachers and schedules and assignments… and being involved with those classes...
-- being available to them at every and any hour of the day. For anything…
-- making church and Sabbath School a vital part of our family life; and being involved there too…
-- knowing our children’s each and every friend -- and parents if possible…
-- knowing that their homework has been done, and done well…

Many might read this brief list and protest “that’s just good parenting!” -- which is precisely the point.

There are of course a thousand and one cultural influences today which vie for our children’s attention and seek to guide them. Being the kind of helicopter parent I’m envisioning insists on knowing what those influences are and in being a much bigger influence ourselves. Ryan’s parents simply will not give him, (or his two sisters) over to the culture. For as Adventist parents, we know too much is at stake to give our children to others…

...except now we have done just that; for it is harder to be a “helicopter parent” from 559 miles (less of course a stop or two for gas and Taco Bell!) away. Implicitly then, we fellow “helicopter parents” (you know who you are!) have given over “helicopter duty” to Southern Adventist University. At the same time however, we hope that by the very nature of our parenting in a “helicopter” mode we have taught our children to be the pilots of their own lives. We have taught them to know their “helicopter God” who is always present and blesses them by hovering over them. To guide, instruct, to bless, and encourage.

Thank you Southern, from these helicopter parents, for being a helicopter school, and for uplifting a helicopter God.

Bob Rigsby

PS: here’s an interesting article that my daughter Heather shared with me. It’s titled: “Students, Welcome to College; Parents, Go Home” and talks about, well, helicopter parents in a way.

(OK OK -- the official parents program at Southern was over Sunday afternoon at 5pm. I left for home on Tuesday morning with my daughter Heather… Dotty flew home the next day; Wednesday…)

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/education/23college.html

 
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Version: 5.0 
Created at 10/27/2010 4:33 PM  by John Shoemaker IV 
Last modified at 10/27/2010 4:46 PM  by John Shoemaker IV 
"Helicopter" Parents
October 27, 2010

You know what that is of course; parents who “hover” -- by some accounts excessively -- over their children. It is meant -- at least that’s my impression -- as something of a pejorative term; an insult of sorts. As if to say “toughen up mom and dad! go ahead and push them right out of that comfy nest! it’ll do ‘em some good! teach 'em independence at an early age!” -- That sort of thing.

Well let me declare right now that my wife Dotty and I are proud to BE helicopter parents. And, at least the way we’ve done it, we don’t believe it’s an insulting or negative thing at all. For we are, and have been all our kids lives, (Ryan’s our freshman at Southern!) very involved.

There is of course “hovering” as in controlling and coddling and fostering dependence; and there is “hovering” as in watchful and aware and nurturing and guiding. We’ve eschewed the first, embraced the second.

For us, hovering has included these:
-- knowing exactly where our child is at all times…
-- knowing exactly what they are watching on (when they watch) TV…
-- knowing their teachers and schedules and assignments… and being involved with those classes...
-- being available to them at every and any hour of the day. For anything…
-- making church and Sabbath School a vital part of our family life; and being involved there too…
-- knowing our children’s each and every friend -- and parents if possible…
-- knowing that their homework has been done, and done well…

Many might read this brief list and protest “that’s just good parenting!” -- which is precisely the point.

There are of course a thousand and one cultural influences today which vie for our children’s attention and seek to guide them. Being the kind of helicopter parent I’m envisioning insists on knowing what those influences are and in being a much bigger influence ourselves. Ryan’s parents simply will not give him, (or his two sisters) over to the culture. For as Adventist parents, we know too much is at stake to give our children to others…

...except now we have done just that; for it is harder to be a “helicopter parent” from 559 miles (less of course a stop or two for gas and Taco Bell!) away. Implicitly then, we fellow “helicopter parents” (you know who you are!) have given over “helicopter duty” to Southern Adventist University. At the same time however, we hope that by the very nature of our parenting in a “helicopter” mode we have taught our children to be the pilots of their own lives. We have taught them to know their “helicopter God” who is always present and blesses them by hovering over them. To guide, instruct, to bless, and encourage.

Thank you Southern, from these helicopter parents, for being a helicopter school, and for uplifting a helicopter God.

Bob Rigsby

PS: here’s an interesting article that my daughter Heather shared with me. It’s titled: “Students, Welcome to College; Parents, Go Home” and talks about, well, helicopter parents in a way.

(OK OK -- the official parents program at Southern was over Sunday afternoon at 5pm. I left for home on Tuesday morning with my daughter Heather… Dotty flew home the next day; Wednesday…)

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/education/23college.html

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