Helicopter Parents

Two articles caught my attention in the last few days.  One, in a Christian magazine, reported how many college students are losing their faith and leaving the church.  The writer suggested that we not even allow our college age kids to leave home unless they are firmly grounded in scripture.  The second was a newspaper editorial on how we are raising a generation of over-protected kids.  There seems to be a connection here.

First, I will tell you that I would have qualified as a helicopter parent.  I had them in a co-op church pre-school. I drove all three children back and forth to elementary and high school.  I volunteered as an adult chaperone and stayed up all night with them at the prom.  They went to church, VBS, youth group and church camp.  And I will also tell you that, paradoxically, none of my hovering squashed their “independent thinking” (as a school counselor told me during one of my many visits on behalf of one child or another – including one who started an underground “zeen” that almost got him expelled).   

Rick was building a business and traveling a lot, and I did my best to guard and guide our children and know what they were doing at every given moment.  Now that they are adults, they delight in telling me some of the things they did and I wonder, “Where was I when this was going on?”  Asleep.  Sometimes I wonder how they survived some of their youthful antics!   But I laugh, too, because they boast that because they did it all, their children will never be able to pull wool over their eyes.  And I’m watching the wool gathering going on.

Rick and I had our day of youthful antics, too.  During high school, we’d go out into the hills at night and explore deserted houses and cemeteries.  We’d have drag races on country roads.  Our friends would collect caution lights and plant them in the principal’s lawn.  We’d all … well, never mind.  You get the idea. 

There seems to be a growing hysteria among Christian parents that we must separate ourselves from the world, keep our children cloistered in Christian schools and Christian colleges.  I confess a certain amount of that myself as we have all but one grandchild receiving Christian education, and the other is just getting ready for kindergarten.  But here’s the rub. One of these days, all these young ones are going to have to leave the nest.  They are going to fly hither and yon. 

I flew to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way”, and, of course, I crashed and burned.  I sinned greatly and collected regrets.  Sometimes it takes a broken wing to ground us.  Down for the count and easy prey, I looked up and cried out to God.  The consequences kept coming, and so did the pain.  But pain is a good thing when it turns us back God.  In fact, I think pain is one of the greatest blessings God gave us.  Pain is a refining fire that burns away all the dross of worldly philosophies promoted everywhere in our culture and gets us down to the gold of truth found only in God’s Word.  Lost in a sea of secular muck, pain makes us reach out for the Lifeguard who brings us to shore.  We come out choking on what we swallowed, tired and dirty, and then God begins the healing, re-training and restoration.

Life isn’t easy.  What we can do is give our children the milk and meat of scripture while they live with us.  We can always pray, and never stop no matter what their lives appear to be.  We can practice godly living in our own lives.  We can trust in the Lord absolutely to do whatever needs to be done to bring our children safely home.  Not to our imperfect home, but home –to Him.