Guilty as Charged!

healthy boundaries helicopter parents relationships & communication smother and hover

Guilty as charged! You, CaraW, on this 23rd day of September are cited with the following crimes:
• Sometimes too helpful,
• Frequently too kind and
• Annoying too optimistic.

Confused? I was too when I heard that our best attributes can get us to trouble. It took a few days to wrap my head around this concept but this is how I digested it.

Have you ever “fixed” something for someone because you could jump in and solve a problem rather than let that person struggle and eventually figure it out?

Have you intervened for someone rather than let them suffer the natural consequence of their actions?

You couldn’t say no to a request despite already having too much to do?

I bet it is sounding more and more familiar because it is easy to fall into these traps. Please realize it is NOT the attribute itself causing the issue. The problem is that you are masking your true motivation with a cover of daisies, rainbows and sunshine. Your motivation boils down to three simple words.


I can really relate. Fear drives my need for control. For instance, if I am always prepared, I won’t stumble for answers and you won’t call me stupid. Reality check: It is impossible to prepare for every scenario, every minute of my life. Solution: Trust myself with what I know and have faith in my ability to get the answer if necessary. I am not stupid.

Fear drives my need to do too much for my kids to prove that I am a good mother. Doesn’t self-sacrifice guarantee their love and respect? Reality check: Are you stupid? Ha, ha! Despite my wishful thinking and stellar efforts, it just ain’t so! Solution: Strive for striking a healthy balance which requires introspection and foregoing the need to do it all. It isn’t impossible. Let the kids learn by my example of being a confident, open hearted, vulnerable adult. (By the way, this concept also applies if you do too much for a parent, an employer, a friend, a lover, a neighbor, etc.)

Fear drives me to clamp down on people and situations. If I can manage or predict the desired outcome, I don’t have to worry, right? R.i.g.h.t. Reality check? Fear intoxicates my thinking. I leave you feeling “less than” because after all, I came to your rescue (again). Solution? Pause. Breathe. What is my responsibility and within my control? I can’t do it all so I will focus on managing my own cuppa crazy.

There is a term for parents who just won’t let go—helicopter parents. They probably would evacuate their kid’s bowels if there was an App for it. These parents act in the auspices of being attentive, helpful, knowledgeable, perfect and “they know best”. They make most to all of their kid’s decisions, fight their battles and act as a glorified life coach without breaking a sweat.

Local author and psychologist Madeline Levine defines helicopter parenting as good intentioned adults who are physically “hyper-present” but psychologically absent. The child lives in the shadow of the “smother hover” parent, sucking up to the expectations of this imposing tour de force. What results is a faulty foundation for living a good life. Wow. Quite a crippling result from such good intentions!

While I like love control, thankfully I am not a helicopter parent. Hello – I do know a few of you personally. I am not naming names (this week!) but hopefully you will be inspired by my growth. I am the first to admit I still struggle however I have become more and more mindful of what constitutes a healthy boundary. I have come to accept that I cannot cure a broken heart, drug addiction or a mood disorder. I cannot erase painful memories. I cannot prevent you from being fired, acting impulsively or hanging out with people that bring you down. I also cannot take credit for your numerous achievements, your happiness or your kind heart. That’s all you, baby!

For all I have done for you my friends, co-workers and family, I never meant to squash your spirit by doing too much. This is such an unfortunate consequence of loving you.

Those speed bumps in life imprint on our hearts and minds, helping us become who we are; flawed and fabulous. My Girlfriend Voice helps me navigate so I stay on my side of the street. Rather than running on a tank of resentful feelings, I let that be a signal that I am trespassing on private property. I actively work on how I will respond to situations that easily trigger my super heroine.

In 800 words, I cannot do justice to my love affair with control but hopefully I have enlightened you to where you too may be living dangerously.

From the heart,