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...

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