A Radical New Year’s Resolution for Helicopter Parents

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Picture this scenario. A pair of helicopter parents sits around the kitchen table discussing new year’s resolutions. They may be overweight. They could be closet smokers, caffeine junkies, or worse. Regardless, it’s doubtful the resolutions these parents are planning have anything to do with bettering themselves.

The chief objective of helicopter parents is not to achieve a personal goal of their own, but to mold their children into some vision of grandeur—however unrealistic, unlikely, or downright unobtainable that vision may be. Bearing this in mind, I’ve got an idea for a new year’s  resolution that might seem frighteningly radical to hover parents, but that could actually make the entire family more balanced, happy and, ultimately, successful at their individual pursuits.

Here’s the plan. Helicopter parents would commit to spending a percentage of time on themselves—time normally spend supporting the quote-un-quote aspirations of their children. That means parents who normally hang around, or rather hover, at baseball/dance/music/soccer/swimming or (fill in the blank) practice for upwards of three or more hours at a clip, absorbing their kid’s every movement, would have to do something else instead. Taking up knitting while watching practice doesn’t count. They must leave the premises altogether.

The opportunities this would present to parents are endless. Mom could drop the baby fat she’s never gotten around to losing because she couldn’t bear to leave Jonny or Jane with a babysitter. She could take a class on an esoteric subject, say, Greek mythology, that has always fascinated her, or pick up a new hobby. Or, Mom and dad could do it together, perhaps rekindling that old spark for each other that blew out when they started putting all their energy into their budding prodigy. And, finally, they could give their kid a little breathing room.

This novel concept could prevent helicopter parents from the embarrassing fate that befell Aubrey Ireland’s parents. The 21-year-old student at College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati could no longer bear the obsessive hovering of her parents that had been steadily choking her for years. Her parents thought nothing of driving 600 miles from Kansas to Ohio to pop in on her unannounced at school. Upon arriving for their visit, they’d berate her with nasty accusations from drug use to mental illness, according to a December 28, 2012 article on the subject in the Huffington Post.

Finally, Ireland placed a restraining order against her parents. The court sided with her. Now, her parents have no choice but to respect her wishes for some space. Until September 2013, Ireland’s parents must avoid all contact with their daughter and keep a distance of 500 feet from her at all times.

It’s a sad result of an exaggerated case of helicopter parenting. But maybe if Ireland’s parents had considered taking up my new year’s resolution, the situation wouldn’t have escalated as it did. So, if you know anyone who would benefit from the resolution, go ahead and suggest it to them. It just might salvage their entire family.

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