Monday, July 2, 2012

Best Advice Ever for Helicopter Moms

Dear Madame L,

I'll be visiting my daughter and her family soon, and I need your advice. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying too hard to be a good "mommy," even though my daugher is a "mommy" now herself and obviously doesn't need me to be hovering over her, taking care of her all the time.

Do you have any suggestions for how to tone it down before I offend my daughter and her husband and make my grandkids back away in horror of being suffocated?


Helicopter Mom

Dear Mom,

Not only does Madame L have some great advice for you, but she got it from her favorite advice columnist of al time, Cary Tennis at

Someone recently asked him a similar question---was it you by any chance?---and here's an excerpt from his answer:

"Make a list of the things you say and do that represent this behavior you would like to change. Be concrete. Use the words you would use. Such questions and offers of help might sound like the following:

“Oh, here, I can wash those.”
“Are you taking your vitamins?”
“Here, I bought you this shirt.”
“Have you talked to your father?”
“I made you a sandwich.”
“Are you getting enough sleep?”
“Here is an extra bottle of vitamins. I can get more.”
“Do you need money?”
“Would you like a sandwich?”
“I could buy you some groceries.”

Having made the list, think of things you might say or do that are opposite to these statements.

For instance, instead of saying, “Do you need money?” try saying, “I know you are managing your money and I’m glad.” In other words, try replacing statements of concern with statements of confidence. This will make you feel better and will communicate to your children that you are confident about their ability to manage in the world. 

Here is another idea. Try making positive statements in general. Instead of saying, “Do you need clothes?” try saying, “You look good.” Instead of saying, “I’ve been worried about you,” try saying, “It’s good to see you.”

When you start to say, “Do you need … Can I get you …” just stop. Just sit there and see how long you can go without saying “Do you need … Can I get you …” Make it a contest for yourself. You will probably find that as you practice you can go for longer periods of time not being Mom too much.

They still need you to be Mom now and then. They’ll let you know when they need you to be Mom. They just also need you to acknowledge that they’re doing adult things their own way, and they need to be able to make mistakes, too, just like you and I did.

See, isn't that great advice?

Can Madame L get you anything else? Oops, Madame L means to say, Is there anything else you'd like to share with Madame L? Maybe make her a sandwich?


Madame L


LFP said...

Love this!

AskTheGeologist said...

Reminds me of the mom who bought her son two shirts. He went into the bedroom and changed into one and came out and said "Hey mom, whadda you think?"

"What's the matter with the other one?" responded his mom.


Ellen said...

Thanks for the advice. I needed to hear this one!!