Amoris Laetitia 261: On Helicopter Parenting

amoris laetitia memeWe have concern for children, even children who are not our own. But it is fruitless to think we can protect them in totality. Pope Francis speaks on the phenomenon some of us have nicknamed “helicopter parenting.”

261. Obsession, however, is not education. We cannot control every situation that a child may experience. Here it remains true that “time is greater than space”.(Evangelii Gaudium  222) In other words, it is more important to start processes than to dominate spaces. If parents are obsessed with always knowing where their children are and controlling all their movements, they will seek only to dominate space. But this is no way to educate, strengthen and prepare their children to face challenges.

This is certainly true. At least it seems that way to me. Children can be prepared to tackle challenges in their lives. The alternative, as I’ve seen in college-age young adults, is mostly passive people who wait to be sheltered, protected, and for someone else to address a life challenge.

What is most important is the ability lovingly to help them grow in freedom, maturity, overall discipline and real autonomy. Only in this way will children come to possess the wherewithal needed to fend for themselves and to act intelligently and prudently whenever they meet with difficulties.

These following are excellent questions, even if we don’t ask them of our children explicitly, but just wonder about them:

The real question, then, is not where our children are physically, or whom they are with at any given time, but rather where they are existentially, where they stand in terms of their convictions, goals, desires and dreams. The questions I would put to parents are these: “Do we seek to understand ‘where’ our children really are in their journey? Where is their soul, do we really know? And above all, do we want to know?”.(Catechesis (20 May 2015))

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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