Have you ever been told to ‘let your daughter go’?
To ‘stop hovering,’ or to ‘let her be more independent’?
Then perhaps you’ve been accused of being a helicopter mom. It’s a loaded term that launched a media frenzy a few years ago: a mom who is overinvolved in her daughter’s life, thereby inhibiting her independent growth. Eeek. Sounds pretty icky, right? Now, for the past 10 years we’ve worked with thousands of mothers and daughters, and so we want to get real on this one: so-called ‘helicopter mothers’ are a rare and pathological condition.
Here’s the truth: your daughter needs you more than ever in the teen years, not less.
We believe that you instinctively know this. You can feel it in your body.
However the collective fear-mongering can be weighty… the ‘mom-bashing’ can come from all sides… from supposedly well-meaning in-laws, or from your daughter’s friend’s mom at after school pick-up… or perhaps even from your own partner.
Today, on the blog we’re talking about how to respond to mom-shaming, and how to fiercely stand for your bond with your daughter. And we’re breaking down the ‘helicopter mom’ term and talking about the new metaphor we can use for being the safe person our daughter returns to again and again.
Click the video below to watch.
Got 7 minutes and 33 seconds? That’s exactly how long it’s going to take watch this video. Your daughter wants you to show up for her, have her back, and teach her safety in relationship (we promise). This episode is an answer to that.
Once you’ve gotten a chance to check out the video, leave a comment below — because collective wisdom rocks, and we want to hear your take. We need each other, mama.
Wonderful words of wisdom! And such an important distinction between the media term “helicopter mom”, and the the kind of stable nourishing attention a mom gives.
Wonderful words of wisdom! And such a distinction between the media term “helicopter mom” and the stable nourishing attention a mom gives! Happy to see you on T.V.
Love this Leif. Love hearing from you.
Recently my 15 year-old was having a meltdown from accumulated stress over the holidays, school, and having to share mom and dad with an elderly relative in need. She had retreated to her bath and carried on vocalizing her unhappiness for a good long while. I overheard some of that she was saying and was a little concerned by remarks like “If someone killed me right now I wouldn’t even mind”. So I stayed alert to her venting while going about my own tasks. I heard her wind down finally and was relieved but then she started winding herself up again. At that point, I went with my instincts, recalling her as a toddler having the same trajectory and feeling that what she needed at that point was not privacy but to be wrapped in my arms. So I spoke to her through the bathroom door, told her to put a towel around herself and join me in my room. She did and eyed me warily. I told her I was there to support her and talk about some things I had heard her saying. When I indicated that she sit near me on the bed, she relaxed and before long was wrapped in my arms. Our talk covered the serious stuff quickly and before long she was gabbing and laughing and happily sharing anything that popped into her head on any topic. Crisis over, we shared a long half hour just being us and being close.
Sil and Eliza are so right that our girls need closeness with us. I love the image of being the helicopter pad. When I heard the video about helicopter moms, I knew that following my instinct in my recent experience with my daughter was exactly right. Thanks for empowering me!
Barbara! This is such a terrific example. I love how you recalled her pattern as a toddler and that you trusted your instincts. Our girls need us to be that grounded, loving and yes, affectionate presence. So lovely hearing how she responded and relaxed and softened and was happily sharing with you. You are a teen whisperer, you are!
My mother often tells me that my daughter and I are too attached. She says it’s not natural that my daughter (12) still wants to be with me as much as she does. She should be pulling away at this age and, if she’s not, I should encourage her to start. Otherwise, she’ll never develop independence. I used to worry that Mom was right, although this closeness didn’t feel wrong to me. Then, I noticed that other kids did seem more independent. They didn’t seem to hang onto their mothers like my mine did. So I worried. Then, I read your book. I was soooo relieved when you said a close relationship is OK – even good! My instincts were right on (another epiphany I gained from your book). I remembered that, throughout her childhood, my daughter has developed in her own good time – not necessarily when she was “supposed” to. Tasks like potty training went a lot easier when we let her take the lead on when to start instead of pushing her when she wasn’t ready. She’s obviously not ready to pull away. So, just like potty training, I should not push her when she’s not ready. She’ll let me know when she needs space. But I will always be her helicopter pad (love this!) when she needs me.
Beth- thank you for this! Eliza and I love knowing that our book helped you trust your instincts! Hooray! What a strange culture we live in that we are taught to value a child’s instinct for independence over her instinct for closeness!! Sending love your way!