What was your childhood like? Was it pretty idyllic? Were your parents happily married? Did you have a strong community of friends and family?
I want you to know, I love that anyone may have come through their childhood unscathed. I harbor no ill-will or jealousy… well not as an adult. I’m sure as a child I was pretty jealous, but I’m straying from my point.
See, not everyone came through childhood without deep scars. I’m not talking about being made fun of, or your locker vandalized. I’m talking about DEEP scars.
Not everyone was able to ride bikes, and play until the street lights come on without something terrible happening to them. Not everyone had a loving, kind, safe environment to go to when their parents had to work or run errands.
So, please, stop judging helicopter parents. Stop it right now. Are you going to stop? Ok, here is something to chew on.
I would rather be a helicopter parent who saves my children from the nightmares I had as realities as a child, than worry about whether my children are ready for the real world. Guess what? I believe I can do both.
You may not believe it, and that is ok. You know why? You have a different perspective than I do. If you didn’t, you would be reading this saying, “Yep, she’s correct. You can.”
I go back to my first point. I hope your childhood was without the abuses and abandonment I had. I hope you didn’t need to look for rays of light. I want you to believe the world is safer than it is. However, and this is my entire point of this post:
I do not believe the world is a safe place.
So, let me be overprotective of my children.
Let me not post pictures of them online. Let me not use their real names. Let me not buy them a phone they can use when they want. Let me say no to using electronics unless I know every site they visit and activity they do.
And this one is going to be hard for you: Let me not let them spend the night at everyone else’s house. Really. Stop. Is it because I think YOU are going to harm them? No. It is because I was actually harmed… in houses my mother trusted. So, just relax. I don’t think you’re a pedophile. I just met a few in my childhood who were trusted by a lot of people.
If I did, and please read this twice, IF I did think you were one, I would not be your friend, or allow my kids to be friends with your kids.
However, when I get a request for my child to spend the night anywhere, my heart starts to rapidly beat and I have trouble breathing. I am not exaggerating here, folks. I physically feel ill. Why?
Because, contrary to popular belief about helicopter, over-protective parents, I do not want my kids to miss out on the freedoms of childhood because of my childhood. I do not want to stifle the GOOD relationships they will build by having that extended friends and family circle I mentioned at the beginning. I want them to know what it’s like to ride bikes until the lights come on, and return home safely without any supervision from me.
I want them to have sleepovers, both at our house and others. I really do.
However, what always beats that out is I do not want them to be the victims of sexual predators or any abusers.
The balance is really exhausting, and brings about those physical reactions.
The other night, I was at an orientation for my oldest girl’s next steps in the church we’ve been going to. At one point, the youth pastor said they believe there are two very important people who need to be in children’s lives. God, and another adult besides the parents. They believed the kids needed an adult mentor who wasn’t a parent. One they would pick out for the kids.
I had to hold back the tears. I actually did have a mild asthma attack and my heart ached for the rest of the orientation.
Now, I actually believe kids need other adults as well. However, I believe that other adults can be trusted family members, or an adult chosen by the parents, or a teacher. I don’t believe a church that has known my child for 4 months can just choose who will spend one-on-one time with my daughter. Heck, this group barely even knows who my daughter is.
How the heck do I navigate this one?
I did what only I can do. I confronted the issue. I found the youth pastor for our group, and told him I needed a minute. When he had a minute, he found me. He is so young and wide-eyed. Really. I think he may have had a fantastic childhood. I look him square in the eye and say:
“This is really hard, so I’m just going to say it. Please know this is not aimed at you or the church. Because of the childhood experiences I had, I do not feel comfortable with this idea of another adult I don’t know being close to my child. Please understand, it is because of things that happened to me physically as a child that I hesitate to trust just anyone.”
He said, and I quote: “Thank you so much for sharing this. Thank you. However, please know we background check every one.….”
And I interrupted. I know. Rude. But I had heard the other pastor already go into this. I had to say this. “I understand, but my first assault was from a man who was so heavily background checked and vetted, he was a foster parent for the state and was allowed to adopt a baby girl, who was also… well… anyway.”
He paused. I said, “Listen, it could all work out to where there is never an issue. This will be my dream scenario. However, I need you to know, I have baggage that makes my level of over-protectiveness a bit higher than some. (Tears in my eyes) I will try my best to trust, but I don’t think I will hit the mark. I just needed you to know where I am coming from, and to understand I am this way because of things that happened in my childhood.”
He thanked me with a low voice, and smiled.
I thanked him for listening and left quickly because I was about to cry.
So, I ask you to do the same thing I asked of him. When you see a child on one of those leash things, don’t go right to where I want to go sometimes…don’t say, “Oh gawd, that woman is too overprotective.” Maybe, just maybe, she got lost as a kid, or her kid has been lost in the past. Or maybe she saw all the news reports of how a child disappeared in just an instant.
When a parent is very hesitant about overnights, don’t wonder if they think you are horrible people. Wonder if maybe they have a past that prompts them to be a bit overprotective.
How about this? When you think, “That helicopter parent is ruining their kids’ lives.” Say to yourself, “I wonder what happened that made them so protective. Their kids are lucky they love them so much.”
In return, and I promise I already do this, helicopter parents need to stop judging parents who allow a much longer ‘leash’. Seriously, stop it right now. I actually envy their sense of freedom. I pray that the children will all come out unscathed. I know many of them will.
Oh, and this is very important to me:
My over-protectiveness is not a judgement of your normal protectiveness. It is a reaction to my childhood.
Can I just simply say, we need much more understanding in the world?
You don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. Let’s just accept that, do our best, love one another, and move on.
Sorry, gotta go. Like the blog title says, I only have “30 seconds”.
The helipad is opening up, and I need to go hover.