5 Ways to Avoid Being a Helicopter Parent (part 4)- Takeaways from Helicopter Mom by Bethany L. Douglas

Oh dear friends you’re almost there! I do hope that these little excerpts from Helicopter Mom have driven you to find out more about how <not> to be a helicopter mom! This series is by no means a complete synopsis of the book, rather meant to give you some go-to tools to start you on your journey towards a fear-free parenting lifestyle.

If you missed the first three blogs, check them out here:


Trauma Drama

Medical Mayhem

Now on to this week’s blog which will be a couple of chapters rolled into one. Another major issue, actually THE major issue that I’ve found helicopter parents deal with is the big C word.


We like getting it, we like taking it, we like wielding it, we like having it.

Helicopter parents are total control freaks. #sorrynotsorry #truthbomb

We like to think that we can control the small universe of our children. We like to think we can alter their destiny. We like to think we have the ultimate say in their little lives.

We’re wrong.

So, let’s take a quick closer look at this control-thing… or as I like to call it what it is…. a complete facade of illusion (DElusion) of who’s in charge. We did some redecorating last week, now its time to step aside and let the actual pilot-in-command take the controls.

I tend to be a bit of a control freak &lt;though I’m much better than I used to be!&gt; but at the

same time, I know when to say when. I know that there are times and places and things that I

need to hand over control to someone else. Like actually flying a helicopter…

People who see me in my flight suit will almost always say, “Ah, so you fly the helicopter?”

No. Uh uh. Absolutely not. You wouldn’t want me trying to fly anything! Not my thing, not my

skill set. I like my life and would really like to stay alive for a while longer. Nope. The whole

piloting thing I tend to leave to the pilots.

Let me be frank- I’m smart, I’m talented, I’m educated, and people like me (Stewart

Smalley anyone?) I’m NOT a pilot and I cannot fly a helicopter. In one yes, actually controlling

one, no. And I have to be okay with that! In fact, I am VERY okay with that!

Not, however, a good friend of mine.

My person, who is an amazing lady (and shall remain nameless but you know who you are),

absolutely hates to fly. Any and all modes of aviation, she just cannot handle it. It gives her

anxiety attacks to even talk about flying. And if you were to ask her why, it’s all about control.

She will tell you that she doesn’t like not seeing the ground, not knowing what is happening in

the cockpit, not having control over the aircraft, not being able to be in a position to ‘handle’ any

emergencies that may arise. I really think she legitimately thinks she could help. Have I

mentioned that my friend is not actually a pilot? Yet, she feels the need to control the place, the

destination, the altitude, etc. Not. Even. Joking.

Anybody relate?

Perhaps in a different area of their lives?

Maybe with fearing loss of control over their children? Worst. Nightmare.

I’m hearing resounding amen’s…

I think it may be safe to say that every mother’s absolute worst nightmare is to lose

control of her kids. In whatever way that manifests itself- be it kidnapping, lost at the zoo, lost to

drugs, taken off to exile by terrorists, growing up and not needing us anymore. Really any

situation, big or small, that we can’t immediately and directly control makes us nervous… and

we fear those times greatly. We can’t handle the idea of letting go control, or worse, having it

taken from us. It’s terrifying!

But Bethany, it can’t be all bad right? We take control because we have to, right? No one

else will. No one else loves and cares about our children as much as we do right? No one

understands what they mean to us. No one will ever take as good of care and love them like it do.

I know best. I can. I will. Is it just me or is this starting to sound familiar? Control, control,

control. I, me, mommy- am the end all, be all, to my kid’s safety, security, health, protection, and

destiny. Anyone feel that way? Be honest.

So, what do we have here? What we have here is pride. We are the momma, we are the

caregiver, we are the protector, the preventor, and the provider. We have placed ourselves

squarely in the pilot’s seat of our helicopter- convincing ourselves that we know best how to fly

the aircraft. We fear losing control so what do we do? We take MORE control. Makes sense….

Or not at all.

I would be a fool and very dead to try to think I could really do much to help fly the

helicopter. (excerpt from Helicopter Mom, ch. 6)

I’m not a pilot. As the book discusses, just because I’ve flown thousands of hours IN a helo doesn’t mean I can FLY a helo. Big difference!

And, dear ones, just because you’re IN your kid’s lives, doesn’t mean you can CONTROL your kids lives. Only God can do that. Somewhere along the line, we’ve gone from being a caregiver for our children, while assisting God in His plan for their lives as best we can- to taking those reins from Him and leaving Him and His wishes in the dust.

We’ve taken God off the throne and put ourselves and our wills there instead.


This is the spiritual equivalent to me telling my pilot how to fly a helicopter. Me… who has zero training or experience in doing that. Me… who has no business dictating to a higher officer how things are going to go.

It just doesn’t happen.

So what to do now? It’s time to give controls back to the One who is actually IN control. Let us take ourselves out of the picture a good bit… exiting stage left to allow for more of Him and less of us. Dear ones, I know it is not an easy thing to ask; giving control of your children’s lives and well-being to another. But this is The Other… really the Only.

For this last bit, I need you with me. We have some more work to do- and this may be the

hardest part- not because we’re sacrificing ourselves to the cause, but we’re giving up control of

our kids. Our most precious children need to be given back to the One that really IS able to care

for them the best. It’s not us, ladies! It’s not their dad’s, their grandparent’s, pastors, teachers,

coaches, or family members. “Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the

baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you – never. Look, I’ve written your

names on the backs of my hands…. As sure as I am the living God,” God’s Decree.

Isaiah 49:15-18 MSG

God- the Pilot in Command. He is the One in control. He is the One to best take over the

controls out of our white-knuckled, cold, over-my-dead-body hands. Will you let Him?

Meditate on these questions this week. How much of a control freak are you? How much are your expectations (fears!) dictating to God how things are <supposed> to go? This is a faith-game friends. There is no faith-building without faith-testing, and I can think of literally no harder or better thing to trust God with than our own kids.

Give them to Him…

And I’ll meet you back here next week for a few more thoughts!

For more lots more reading and much greater insight into all this please don’t hesitate to grab a full-copy of Helicopter Mom, available in ebook and paperback from my website and Amazon.

The Truth About My Lying...

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I have to admit that I didn't know this until this morning. Though we had children late in life, Gabe and I are blessed in that we've not ever had to experience loss in this way. However, as a nurse I've been at the bedside of too many families to count that have lost their children. As a flight nurse, there are countless stories I could tell you of being in the middle of the storm of children dying. Though I have not experienced this in my own life, I can relate to the outcry of grief that such loss causes. But... no. I did not remember that this day honors these lost souls and brave families. I can imagine that today is forever stamped into the memory and on the hearts of those who have lost their babies. My heart grieves alongside them. In honor of today, and so many of my beautiful friends who have lost children, I wanted to bring you a heartwarming and hopeful message that one of my dear friends wrote. I am honored to call her teacher and friend, sister in Christ. I pray that her wise words bring you comfort and peace... even in the midst of shattered hopes and dreams.



I've been lying. For a long time.

If that got your attention, it was meant to. After all, I am an English teacher and you've got to start with a great hook.

When asked if I had any children, I have always answered no. This is a lie. Let me explain.

After my first miscarriage, a pastor spoke the words of Isaiah 54:1-3 over me: “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities."

I've been pondering this verse quite a bit lately because I've been considering it as part of a tattoo design. Just this morning, I realized Satan had been feeding me a lie and I had been falling for it hook, line and sinker.

The lie?

That I am a barren woman with no children other than the two who await me in heaven.

The truth?

I have LOTS of children, right here on Earth.

You see, I had always viewed the Isaiah passage in a future-tense metaphorical sense. This morning, the Holy Spirit whispered to me that this is a NOW truth, and I'm blown away by it, so much so that I could hardly wait to get it written down.

You may have noticed the ring in the video. I purchased it this weekend at Apple Butter Days. The initials are for my Nine godchildren: Hannah, Tyler, Josie, Kenzie, Ella, Gabe, Payton, Sidney and Emma. The "&" symbol represents their spouses and children.

But here's where it gets good: the "ands" extend far beyond my godchildren. As I reflected on my 26 years of marriage this morning, I've had children every step of the way. It began with my nieces, and continued with football players, basketball players, church youth group members, friend's kids, and my own students. All along, God has been choosing specific children to weave into the tapestry of my life. And once I take you into my heart, you're there forever.

I have a LOT of kids. And not in a future-tense metaphorical sense either. They've lived with me, cried with me, laughed with me, done chores with me. We've played games and traveled together, celebrated birthdays and holidays. I've fed them lots of food and bought them lots of stuff. We've worshipped and prayed and studied the Bible together.

My children are incredibly successful. They are faithful husbands, wives and parents. They have careers in ministry, medicine, art, business, science, technology and education. My descendants, as they are called in Isaiah, are world-changers.

This summer, I asked God to make me a prayer warrior. Boy, has He ever answered my prayer, but not in the way I expected. I've always been a great sleeper, 8 to 9 hours every night...until lately. For the past couple months, I've spent countless hours in the dark of night in prayer. It started with going through my Nine one by one, and has gradually grown into a list of some length. If you're one of my kids, I've been praying for you.

So what's the point of this incredibly long and personal post? To give God the credit, as a sweet friend of mine likes to say.

There may be a woman out there who, like me, struggles with her barrenness at times. My dear one, God's words in Isaiah are right-now true for you too. Let that settle in your bones and begin to act on its truth. Your womb may be empty but your life is not, and God gets the credit.

There may be someone out there who needs to see an example of appropriating the truth of God's word. My favorite verse is Psalm 107:20, "You sent forth Your word and healed me, and saved me from all my destructions." Wherever there is an area of difficulty in your life, I promise there are verses in the Bible to help you, and God gets the credit.

To my Nine, I love you beyond words. Your parents' decision to choose me as your godmother is an honor I have always taken seriously, more so now than ever.

To my "ands," I thank God for you. You have made my life rich and meaningful. You know who you are, and every one of you are a unique and special gift to me. I adore you.

Lord, until you call me home, I will continue "stretching out my tent." Keep 'em coming. I have room in my heart, and You get the credit.

See Kathy's ring of children here.



Dear sister- on a personal note... thank you for your incredible vulnerability and for speaking such TRUTH to those who need to hear it. I see change in you! Much LOVE ~Bethany