Polk Moms

Connecting moms in Polk County, Fla.

I have been a helicopter parent for so long that my children, ages seven and nine, are extremely apprehensive of taking any risks in various activities, sports, etc., or doing anything where they may get even slightly hurt or disappointed. What have I done and how do I correct it?

My mom was a helicopter parent and it just about destroyed my life. You correct it by letting them be kids without your permission and actually live their own lives. - Brian C. in San Jose, CA

FROM JODIE:
Since the beginning of time there have always been overbearing and protective parents, so don't beat yourself up too badly. It's easy for parents to go overboard in overprotecting when it comes to their kids, to the point of exhaustion for all involved. This is especially true if the kids are under the age of five. It can go on into college years and beyond, but it doesn't have to. Letting go of this habit will take time. Your parenting outlook and style will need to change and you'll need to allow them to get used to the idea that they can actually try things on their own and whatever the outcome, it's all going to be okay in the end. Go ahead and sign them up for things that you know that they are truly interested in and will most likely do well at. A few successes will build their self-confidence and they will perhaps want to do more things that are new and different. Just be sure that you stop yourself if you think about interfering unnecessarily, even if you know that they're heading for a mistake. It's the mistakes and bumps in life that we all learn from that make us stronger individuals, more capable of handling future situations. We have to be allowed to fail. It's going to be tough for a while but you can do it. Just print this column out and highlight the comment of the above reader. If nothing else, it will serve as both reminder and inspiration to be the parent that your children need you to be and one day for their own family.

CAN YOU HELP?

My husband will be home for the holidays two weeks after we will celebrate as a family with his parents and four sisters on the 25th. He is being released from the military after two surgeries. I'd like for his family to try and wait until he arrives before celebrating. Is this a bad idea even if they haven't seen him or our three kids in almost four years? Also, there's a large number of kids, from newborns to age 20, who will get to see each other for the first time. Should I contact the parents and ask for suggestions for each one or just buy according to ages? I'd like to surprise them though and was hoping that you might have some neat gift ideas.

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