February 21, 2018

Letting Go by Lillian Sanderson

We have to let children struggle and risk small failures to allow them to develop independence.


The current talk about “Helicopter” parents is interesting. These parents hover over their children, not allowing them to make decisions themselves.


I recently read about a company that had to make policies regarding the parents of the applicants hoping to work there.  It took a while to understand what they were talking about, and once I did, I had to laugh.  Parents had actually asked to sit in during the job interviews of their adult children. Some parents had even called the bosses to see how their children did during the interviews. It isn’t really anything to joke about though; some adults are not allowing the occurrence of the normal process of separation between parents and children.  To think that it is common enough that a corporation addresses the issue is astounding.


I suppose the parents believe that they’re helping the kids to be successful and not fail.

What is really happening is they are reinforcing dependence.


That empty nest, don’t need you anymore, I can do it myself attitude is sort of painful for parents. Eventually, we all must let them go.  We need to sit back and watch with our fingers crossed.


It is tempting for moms to make the phone calls for a doctor appointment. Inquiries about exams in school, openings for jobs, or any number of things that relate to the young person could be handled with ease by his or her worldly mom or dad.


Yet, how ever did mom and dad become so smart and able to talk and carry on with just about anyone?  How did she negotiate her salary or ask that teacher to explain a grade? How did he have the nerve to buy a car or ask a girl to the Prom?  Parents need to step back and remember those often awkward experiences of having to be assertive. They must also concede that those awkward moments helped them gain confidence, and that they learned some things along the way too.


Guidance is necessary, but when it becomes smothering, stunting the growth of independent thinking, it is damaging.  We truly cannot protect our children from everything.  Being there for them, and offering encouragement rather than criticism, is the best parenting we can offer.


Lillian is a midwestern mother of five grown children and a grandmother of ten.






  1. You make excellent points in your article. As the mom of a young adult and two teens, it’s my goal as a parent to teach my children how to be independent, successful adults. Barring some kind of emergency, they will not be living with me when they’re in their thirties!

  2. Joyce Davison says:

    Very good! That makes so much sense. When parents behave like “Helicopters” it is literally a form of child abuse. You are stunting your children’s growth.

Speak Your Mind