I used to be a helicopter parent, hovering over my boys’ lives like a, well, helicopter.
I didn’t interfere. I observed. Ready to swoop and recover in case of an emergency—like an actual driving to the ER, emergency.
Parental styles these days are a far cry from the traditional, dare I say, simple categories of parenting we grew up with: authoritative or permissive. Back in the day, I knew two types of parents: strict or not strict. Varying degrees, temperament, and personality were involved. Different levels of guilt-inducing decision existed.
But, it all boiled down to this: are you allowed to go? And did your parents find out?
Now, we have lawnmower, bulldozer, free-range, and snowplow parenting. We have dragon and tiger moms. (Why is it always the mom?)
I have decided my parenting style has changed over the years. Not drastically, but enough to fly me out of the helicopter range and into what I would like to call the “curling mom”.
Yes, curling, as in the Winter Olympic sport where they push the stone, sweeping the ice to determine the path, ultimately aiming for the target. That’s me! I am a curling parent.
If you’ve ever watched curling, it appears so simple. (Curlers out there, please note that I said appears, I realize it’s not. And the more I researched this sport, it’s quite fascinating and looks exhausting. I can only imagine that an Olympic athlete makes the competition look easy after long hours and hard work—amazing and well done!)
One person, the captain, slides the stone with a seemingly gentle push across the ice. The captain glides gracefully, releasing the stone at just the right moment, on bended knee. Then the sweepers, frantically at times, brush the ice to determine or alter the path and speed. A third (the actual title of the person) guides, calls strategy, and directs the sweepers. There is yelling, there is abrupt silence, but the ultimate goal is to get the stone to the target or “house”.
That’s me! I am a curling mom.
Stay with me on this.
As captain, I have released (at least one) of my boys out into the world. And, if you saw me after we hugged him goodbye and left campus, walking the equivalent of an ugly cry of shame to our car, then you would agree—metaphorically, I was on my knees.
Sweeper may be my finest job. I don’t bulldoze or snowplow—I’m not that pushy. I am definitely not that aggressive. But, I will direct the trajectory of my child’s course through gentle nudges, hints, reinforcement, and guidance.
I sweep with my words.
I sweep with the language I choose, to give them an option maybe they hadn’t thought of before. (Should you really take improv and film studies in the same semester?)
I (frantically) sweep when I want them to make a different decision, ultimately realizing I need to allow them their independence. They need to fall short of their goal. They need to make mistakes. (It’s a process, parents, if I can get here, trust me, so can you.)
I don’t clear the path—I show them the way.
I am the third. I am the coach, the strategist, calling the plays and praying someone hears me.
Seriously, is anyone listening to me?
I can see it from the perspective of the goal, and I can see the direct line to be taken. I can see their strengths and weaknesses and call it like it is.
I am the one (yelling) calling them to the target, to their future, to their home.
So, move over lawnmower parents. See you later dragon moms. I am a curling mom, and I am going to sweep you away.
Disclaimer: I am not an authority in parenting. Any parental information posted in this article, unless directly quoted and cited, is my own opinion—please take it in the lighthearted manner in which it’s written.
Previously published on the author’s blog