Helicopter Parents: Avoid Hovering Through Preparation
5 mins read

Helicopter Parents: Avoid Hovering Through Preparation

Helicopter parents are known for hovering over their teens every second of every day. They are overly attentive and fearful for their child’s every problem.

This intense involvement with teens, though, can be avoided through just one thing: preparation.

Many people become helicopter parents because they do not adequately plan, so they have to lead and guide their students in real time. This can result in anxiety, stress, and panic. 

But by merely planning ahead parents can be present and involved. The way to prepare is to start planning now!

Preparation is never lost time

Years ago, I heard a speaker say that, “Preparation is never lost time.” 

After hearing that, I knew I needed to take that motto to heart in my own family. My husband, two children, and I worked together to plan for the future. 

Preparation starts with goals. Our family began writing yearly family and personal goals, kept a calendar, set targets to accomplish those goals, and constantly referred back to them to track the progress.

Yes, this was a lot of work but by doing this we prevented so much potential stress and fear. It was imperative for us to plan ahead and show them how to do this. Our actions modeled discipline and goal-setting to them.

And whenever we did get anxious about the future, we worked together to think of ways to set the stage for success. 

For instance, my husband and I were nervous about sending our son to college. He was only 17 when he went and still had a lot of growing up to do. 

Before we sent him off, we identified areas that caused us trepidation and talked through how to best minimize them. We worked to create a path that led not only to his success but also passed the baton to him to set up his own fruitful future.  

Even when our children were in college, we would check in with them on their goals and stay connected to them.

We would schedule occasional family nights to have dinner or play games together. We focused the time on catching up, seeing how his social life was going, and checking on areas that were stressful for our kids.  

Ultimately, though, knowing we had taught our son and daughter how to be prepared for college and what lay beyond saved us from hovering over them.

Seeking the advice of others

Preparedness also means seeking wisdom from others. 

This wisdom is key, especially when it comes to planning for your child’s higher education. 

My husband and I were both first-generation college graduates. On top of that, were young parents to our daughter. 

Not having a model to follow, we constantly sought advice from sage counselors, educators, and parents. We attended workshops and other meetings, preparing us for how to navigate sending kids to college. 

Here are a few questions I recommend asking parents for advice on planning for your kids’ college and future: 

  • How can you help teens transition to adulthood? 
  • How do you prepare to let go of teens when they graduate?
  • What would you have done differently in preparing your teens for college? 
  • What advice would you give your younger self on how to better navigate the transition to empty nesters? 

Planning for future education

One thing we learned from others was the importance of making sure your plans are designed specifically for each child. The preparations you make don’t have to be the same for every child. 

We structured a plan for our son and daughter that aligned with their interests and capabilities.

For our son, we started prepping him for college and his future in middle school by sending him to enrichment programs. Our daughter started her steps toward college more in high school.

We found several things that helped set them up well for college:

  • Taking college credit courses in high school that aligned with their interests. 
  • Attending weekend or summer programs for academic enhancement such as memorization, comprehension, and testing skills. 
  • Attending college tours and fairs.
  • Attending summer camps on college campuses while in high school or the weeks prior to college freshman orientation. 

All of this helped prepare us to launch our children into their future. 

We knew that by equipping them with vital skills, we could easily transition to our next step: empty nesters. Our planning allowed us to jump into this next stage with glee, happy with what we had accomplished. Even today, we often talk about those times of transition with fondness. 

So, when you feel yourself start to hover, remember to pause and plan ahead. Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

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