Thursday, April 8, 2010

Grounding the Helicopter

I made a startling discovery this week. I am a helicopter parent. It pains me to even write that down but it's true. I've always had a certain level of contempt for helicopter parenting, and have congratulated myself more than once on my laid back parenting style. I can let my children play in our woods alone for hours, I very rarely complain about them getting dirty or spreading their toys and projects all over the house, and I allow them a good deal of freedom in choosing their study topics, but I had an experience last week that opened my eyes to other ways that I hover.

Last Monay I started doing "dots" this idea from Kari Brimhall basically involves drawing 5 circles on a piece of paper, each with a different responsibility written (or drawn) in it. You place a penny or other small object on each "dot" (we use flat marbles). When a child has completed that activity they put the marble in a jar. When the jar is full we get to do a fun family activity together. Each of my children earns an extra dot if they finish their chores before 9:00 am. The first morning was AMAZING. The kids got up, and did all their chores without me saying a single word, which made me realize just how much I had been saying. That morning instead of spending an hour running around the house calling out, "go get dressed", "unload the dishwasher", and "did you feed the chickens?" I exercised, read and SAT DOWN to eat my breakfast! It was such a revelation to me that all my hovering was not only unnecessary but a total and complete waste of my time.

I think one of the greatest challenges of being a homeschool mom is not hovering. After all you know exactly what your children are supposed to be doing every hour of the day. You know what chores they need to take care of, what lessons they need to work on and what they were suppose to learn from those lessons. You also know if they're wasting time, and nothing's more infuriating then watching your children waste time! However, letting our children become indendent, responsible people is also one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

I can establish expectations and consequences but I cannot MAKE my children be responsible. Responsibility only comes when there is space to make one's own decisions and learn from the results. That is a hard concept for me to implement, but I am really trying to keep this parenting helicopter grounded!

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