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Hard Lesson Learned from a Broken Hearted Helicopter Parent

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Replies to: Hard Lesson Learned from a Broken Hearted Helicopter Parent

  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12982 replies244 threads Senior Member
    @mamom that's a great story. My S is in a very similar place in life, and loving it.

    @sbgal2011 that's great news, thanks for coming back with the update!
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  • sbgal2011sbgal2011 274 replies21 threads Junior Member
    @Dustyfeathers That's great news! The organization you mentioned sounds wonderful, I wish more communities had those.

    @mamom So glad he found something he loves! That's the most important thing. If they love it, they will stick to it.


    I don't think I mentioned that my DS changed his major. That was another factor for his success. He loves his new major and enjoys his classes.

    Thanks for the kind words, hopefully DS will continue to stay on track!1
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  • RiversiderRiversider 865 replies103 threads Member
    edited December 2018
    OP,

    Don’t beat yourself. You sound like a caring parent and even though you went overboard but you tried in ways you felt were helpful. You weren’t an expert in raising children nor had a crystal ball. All isn’t lost, he isn’t even 21 yet, he can mature and find his balance. It may not be what you’ve imagined or at a pace you may prefer but he’ll be alright.

    Thank you for sharing it with other parents. Even if one parent or a child benefits, you’ve done good. All those efforts, that were wasted on him, focus those on your own life. You only got one life to live. Love him too but accept him as an independent adult and let him live on his own terms.

    It’s important to respect personal boundaries, our kids aren’t our extensions. They are individuals. Hey, at least he isn’t “exploring life” on your dime. Let him struggle a bit, don’t start supporting his free spirit, let him learn how to handle responsibility.
    edited December 2018
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  • RiversiderRiversider 865 replies103 threads Member
    Just read your follow up. Good for him and for you. I love happy endings.
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  • 2023collbound2023collbound 83 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for sharing your story and for your advice - I am you- just a couple years behind and your words will hopefully guide me to let go a little and let my kid spread his wings and take ownership. He sleeps soundly while I obsess over internet research and these forums on schools- which one is the right one for him? Do we need to visit more? Is the perfect school out there but we just haven’t found it yet? Will he get in? What if he gets deferred? Have I checked all the portals today to see if there are any updates...and the list goes on.
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  • profdad2021profdad2021 498 replies12 threads Member
    I agree with many of the other posters. For example, your son is a high school graduate, living on his own, supporting himself, and he is still quite young. This is not the ideal path towards a stable economic future but it is a solid start. Time will pass, he will mature, and he very likely will return to college. If not, being independent at such a young age really is an accomplishment and it shows promise in itself. While it is tempting to feel like you could have changed this situation by different parenting, you really don't know that. There are LOTS of young adults who did not graduate from high school, who may never live completely independently, who "did it on their own."

    To add to the discussion: My suggestion is to avoid the assumption about "cause and effect." Yeah, I get it, you feel you over-helped in high school and so your son did not learn the skills necessary for college success. The thing is, lots of kids struggle to adjust to college life, LOTS of kids, regardless of how much their parents helped them in high school. Sometimes there is enormous variation in short term college outcomes even within families.

    At the end of the day, it not always about us. Sometimes, it is about the kid. And his story is not yet written.
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  • LengjunyiLengjunyi 1 replies2 threads New Member
    I get that is indeed a necessary part in life... I am in high school and since my parents stopped supervising me I started to suck... But now it's better
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  • TheAnswerGalTheAnswerGal 16 replies4 threads Junior Member
    You are too tough on yourself! But thank you for the post because as a fellow (though you will rarely hear me admit it) helicopter parent I can see exactly what you are saying.

    I raised my niece who, unlike my son, was one of those students you never had to remind to do anything and had a 4.5gpa in highschool. She did the same thing your son did, right down to the "working at the supermarket." It really has more to do with thier maturity level, than your influence as a parent. We stopped all financial support for her - no emergency $100, nothing. It killed me to do it - I was convinced she would be homeless or worse. She did couch surf for a while. She hated us and stopped speaking to us for a while too. About a year later she saw how hard life is on minimum-ish wage and how your college treat you different when you aren't in college. She got herself back in college and ended up graduating with a Doctorate of Psychology. (P.S. - she never really forgave us but I know we did the right thing.)

    My son is Senior - got great scholarships to Gonzaga and TCU, still deciding. I have resorted to everything short of abuse to get him to turn in work, study and be a responsible student his whole highschool career (ie...helicopter parent). He is the polar opposite of my niece for highschool. I appreciate your heads up - we are definitely worried about him for college but he is a different kid than my niece. He has had an online business since he was 12, he has paid for his clothes, haircuts, spending money since he was 13. He is going to college on the understanding that he will take out his own loans and figure out his own financing. When he finishes, we will help him pay it off.

    I am betting that a year or so out of college, living the tough life will change your son's perspective.

    Also - you did a great job as a parent to give your child direction and support for the best future possible. Applying for college and even qualifying to get there is much harder than the 80's - are you kidding! I just filled out a one page piece of paper and got a check for $125 from my dad back in the 80's. Sure there was a little essay and maybe they met with me quickly for an "interview" but it was NOTHING like it is today! Schools cost $60,000 a year right now-very few parents can just "send" their kids to college like they did in the 80's. Kids need to get scholarships and compete for merit aid. It's a battle ground to even get to the point where they can do an application. You did exactly what you should do for your son based on what kids need today. Everyone has to make mistakes, much better to make them at 19 when you can "do over" in a minute, than it is to screw up at 40 when you wreck your career, marriage and children. You gave your son a great foundation, he will figure it out.
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 3058 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Thank you for the update, and the wisdom. Best of luck to you both.
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  • happy1happy1 22941 replies2261 threads Senior Member
    Thank you for that update. Understanding that there are always bumps along the road, it sounds like things are moving forward in a very positive way. Best wishes to all!
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29579 replies58 threads Senior Member
    It happens to kids of non helicopter moms too. Most of the hovering moms’ kids I’ve known over the years have done well. It is possible that you pushed him along enough so that he can give it a go on his own with a high school diploma. I know one of mine wouldn’t have had one without s lot of intervention and that would have been rough. Lots and lots of kids thanks breakd from college. I have one who took 14 years- big gap in there , to finally get his degree.

    What I feel is the toll on helicopter parenting is that on the parent, kid and the relationship. When it’s too daunting, those are years that you didn’t enjoy your child and the child you, as much as possible.
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12982 replies244 threads Senior Member
    Thank you for the update and best to you and your S!
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  • TheSwamiTheSwami 69 replies4 threads Junior Member
    @sbgal2011 thank you for the post and update. In your last post you say.....”I anticipate more bumps in the road in the next two years. He will continue to get overwhelmed and procrastinate, but we are reaching out to resources in his school to help him with that. Academic coaching and counseling services are something we will line up ahead of time so he can hit the ground running next semester.”

    You say “we” are “reaching out” and “will line up.” Are you not doing the same type of parenting you regret? Are you going to remind him to prep for meetings for work? Are you going to call his boss for him?

    I appreciate your posts as they are informative and give insight. I just found this last one interesting because it sounded like it went against the advice you were giving us readers.
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  • hopedaisyhopedaisy 91 replies2 threads Junior Member
    OP, thanks for your post and updates. I agree with others who say at least you got your son through high school. It's easy to say "I should have let him fail" but what if you did and he never completed high school? Kids who drop out have a much bigger risk of never bouncing back. I know, as I've witnessed this with a cousin of mine. He finally managed to get his GED but without a high school diploma he found himself hanging out with the wrong friends who encouraged bad choices. It's been a very rough road for him, much harder than had he just dropped out of college. Hindsight is always 20/20 but you never know how much worse an alternate course could have been.
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  • rickle1rickle1 2015 replies17 threads Senior Member
    For kids, employees, colleagues, etc...We can't want it more for them than they want it for themselves. We see potential outcomes so clearly and try to get them to do things, but ultimately they have to want it and see it for themselves. I'm reminded of this daily at work as I try to motivate, cajole, whatever colleagues to do certain things. At the end of the day, they are either going to sink or swim. They determine their own outcomes. I generally find people resort back to their natural state when all the cajoling stops.

    With kids, all we can really do is make sure they know the consequences of their actions (don't do your homework = fail the class = bad grade = low gpa = fewer college options = potentially different career trajectory = different life). Ultimately they have to find that out for themselves. As a parent it's really hard to sit quietly and not prompt them because we know what they should be doing but we really need to.
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