In last week’s blog, “Are You a Helicopter Parent? Take the Quiz”, we discussed what defines being an overprotective parent now coined as a Helicopter Parent. And if you took the quiz and realized you could be one of these parents, it’s ok. God has guidance on this topic. Instead of always being fearful and worrying about our children, He wants us to have peace in Him and be lighthouses for our children.
Helicopter Parenting is Fear Based
If you look at the root of the helicopter parenting problem, you will see it is a fear and anxiety based parenting style. There is the fear your child will get hurt, will not get the best grades, will make the wrong choices, that people will not like them, etc.
But what does the Bible say about fear? There are over 100 verses in the Bible on fear and anxiety. Here are 2 that can really apply to this situation:
- 1 John 4:18 says that “There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.”
- Philippians 4:6-7 states “Do not be anxious in anything, but in everything with prayer and supplication make your request known to God and the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
So now that we know what God thinks about helicopter parenting, what parenting guideline should we follow? In stark contrast to helicopters parents is “lighthouse parenting.” Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a leading pediatrician, shares his thoughts on this parenting strategy in his book, “Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust.” Dr. Ginsburg offered a powerful analogy of the lighthouse for a parenting strategy. "We should be like lighthouses for our children. Stable beacons of light on the shoreline from which they can measure themselves against. Role models. We should look down at the rocks and make sure they do not crash against them. We should look into the water and prepare them to ride the waves, and we should trust in their capacity to learn to do so."
Characteristics of a Lighthouse Parent:
- Lighthouse parents trust in God’s promise for their children and have peace in it.
- Lighthouse parents place the responsibility of homework on the child so they can learn for themselves and be able to use this knowledge later on.
- Lighthouse parents realize that children’s natural immunity is strengthened through exposure to illnesses. While you may not want your child to be exposed to a major flu, exposing them to a cold can actually be very healthy for their child in the long run.
- Lighthouse parents are willing to say NO to their child especially if they do not believe it is in the child’s best interest. They are not afraid to let a child cry because they did not get what they want.
- The Lighthouse parent is willing to let their child take risks that may end up causing them injury (ie. Mountain Biking, climbing trees, etc)
- Lighthouse parents lobby for what is right and honest. While they will defend their child in a case of injustice, they will usually stand up for what is right. They will see what things can be done for their own child to take more responsibility for their actions.
- Lighthouse parents will provide guidance to the child on what decisions they think are best and why, but then let the child make their own decision. If that decision causes the child to fail, then the lighthouse parent lets them fail. They then use that failure as a learning experience.
- Lighthouse parents realize that there is value in being spontaneous sometimes. You don’t have to be fully prepared every single time you want to do an event. This can teach your children to be adaptive and resourceful and not expect a perfect situation every time.
Light the Way
As you can see from our last blog post and this one, there are vast differences between Lighthouse parents and Helicopter parents. Although it is a hard balance to strike, we need to guide our children without being smothering or overbearing. God gives us the promise that if we guide them with the foundation of the Bible, they will not stray from it when they grow up. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Just as He is our lighthouse, we are to be lighthouses to our children. God loves us unconditionally, gives us His Word for guidance, but also gives us a free will to make our own choices, making mistakes along the way but also learning from our mistakes to be better. Light the way for your children so that they can be His light to the world.