Now, here me out. I’m not going to let them fall off a cliff or anything, but I do let my kids fall. A LOT. I know, by my own experiences, that the best lessons are after a fall (the literal and figurative kind).
I’m a mom of all boys. Three rambunctious boys. (Is there really such thing as NON-rambunctious boys?) These boys have given me my fair share of heart attacks when it comes to their bumps and bruises. But I’m not just talking about the literal fall. I’m talking about the hard lessons. Now, my oldest is five, and although I am aware that the “hard” lessons are yet to come, there are times I do let my boys’ fall in order to learn on their own.
Oh, I warn them. Please don’t misunderstand. I warn them that those rose bushes have thorns, or that floor is slippery, or those rocks are not sturdy to climb on, but I also pick my battles and let them learn for themselves too. There are some things I could warn about until I’m blue in the face, but they won’t REALLY learn until they’ve tried it and failed. (They get their stubborness from their mama). The bottom line is, it’s simply not possible to be their safety net for every single fall.
When I looked up the definition of a helicopter parent, I couldn’t decide if I was or I wasn’t one of those parents. It probably depends on the day, and definitely depends on who’s judging me. Am I an involved parent? Absolutely! In some situations, I most definitely AM a helicopter mom. Like in crowded theme parks, in parking lots, or around water. I’m a stickler for seatbelts, and life jackets, and hydration. So call me a helicopter mom all you want, but my kids be well hydrated and in carseats until they’re driving (I kid…kind of).
Letting them fall means sit back to let them explore and learn for themselves. Giving them age appropriate space to learn. and not swooping in to solve every problem for them. I give my kids responsibility, and hold them accountable by NOT saving them when they fail at those responsibilities. I ask them questions to help direct them to figuring out a solution on their own.
More often than not, I’m right there by my kids when they fall, and it’s usually after repeadive warnings. Those warnings just don’t always prevent the fall. You can’t put kids in a bubble. I wish we could protect them for every fall or heartache. But we can’t. Some of the best lessons are after those fall, heartaches or mistakes. I never want to see my kids hurt (physically or emotionally), but I recognize my boys’ need for independence, and allow them to gain confidence by teaching them how to do things on their own. Falls are bound to happen, and I’m happy to help them learn from the falls.
It’s often in the struggle that we become stronger, and I don’t rob my kids of that lesson and personal growth.
I teach them (verbally and by example), but ultimately, they have to work through the process on their own. When my kids were learning to walk, I can hold their hand, and tell them one foot in front of the other. I can warn them about going up and down stairs safely, but I cannot do it for them. They have to practice on their own, and they’re going to fall. A LOT. Eventually, they get stronger and sturdier, and soon they RUN.
It will be like that all their lives, I imagine. They have to learn to walk before they run. My kids need to be given a little rope, and then more, before they are entrusted out of my little nest. How can I expect that they know how to manage that freedom, if I don’t slowly release it to them?
So, I try not to hover over my kids as they stumble and fall. I want them to run after their dreams and be fearless, and worry less about the falls.