Confessions of a Former Helicopter Mom: How Letting Go Has Changed Our Lives


As I spotted the sweater on the other side of the clothing rack, I knew. She was going to choose that one. It was blue camo. Old-school style fleece and massively oversized. It was everything I didn’t like and everything she loves, and I’m trying to let her be herself.

So when she picked it up off the rack, I bought it.

Her smile lit up the whole mall.

I used to be picky about my children’s clothes. Lots of dresses. Tutus. Pink. I would even colour-coordinate my girls when possible. I wanted them to look good.

My pickiness wasn’t limited to clothes. I’d often catch myself narrating their lives. (I think the proper term is nagging, but narrating sounds so much nicer.) Even though we weren’t perfect, I certainly didn’t want anyone to be able to tell. Of course, people always could tell because we’re human and humans are, well, a mess.

A few years ago, as I was praying about some issues we were having with one of our children, I felt the Lord say, “Let go of the reins a little. Trust her with freedom.” In just a few days, the results were dramatic. She was happier, more confident, willing to try new things.

You see, when I micromanage, I tell my children that they’re not good enough. I undermine their confidence. I diminish their willingness to take risks.

Not intentionally. But that’s what happens.

The best parenting advice I’ve ever received was to “major on the majors and minor on the minors.” In other words, before fighting a battle, ask yourself, Is this an issue of character or of control? There are things that we might not like (such as baggy blue camo-patterned fleece sweaters) that aren’t sinful. But they are not issues of character. On the other hand, lying, stealing, disrespectful talk, arguing, etc. are issues of character. These are things that are directly contrary to the Word of God.

Major on the majors. Minor on the minors.

I’m still a work in progress.

But learning to let go of my need for control in the minor things has been life-changing, not only for me, but for my children as well.


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