Helicopter Mom or Airplane Mom?

Helicopter Mom? Or Airplane Mom?

This weekend was Asa’s Flying Ace Party! And oh, my! It was so fun. I always say that about my kids’ birthdays, but every time I’m surprised at how fun they are!

I’m going to give you the play-by-play of the party in a few days but today I wanted to talk about something I’ve been thinking about since dotMom. Vicki Courtney gave a talk entitled, “How To Raise a  Me-Monster” which was basically calling moms out on having kid-centric homes instead of God-centric homes.

You’ve heard of the helicopter-mom, right? Where moms hover around their kids making sure life turns out right? Not letting them fall at the park, not letting them get an F on a paper, not letting friends bully them and basically “snow-plowing the roads of life” for them.

I don’t feel like I’m really a helicopter-mom because I don’t follow my kids up the playground slide. I don’t do Lydia’s schoolwork. I let my (new) 4 year old get dressed by himself and wear shorts and cowboy boots if he wants. I let them make ugly crafts and do things differently than I think they should be done.


Vicki Courtney brought up some points that were beyond letting your kid fall at the playground. It’s more about the attitude you have towards your kids.

Do I make my children the center of my life? Is my husband an afterthought? Do I defer to my kids on everything? Have I forgotten that my goal as a mom is to raise kids to LEAVE ME?

Do I do whatever it takes to protect my child’s self-esteem? Am I that American Idol mom who demands that Randy put her child through even though she can’t sing a lick? Do I call their sin, sin?

Do I rescue my child from poor choices and life’s injustices? Do I say (or show) that the rules don’t apply to my precious babies? Have I placed them on a track they won’t turn away from—a track of selfishness and pampering?

Have I taught my children to put their needs and wants before others? Am I raising a child who’s life centers on their vain conceit?

Sadly, I could answer YES to many of those questions. I think I’m doing my kids a favor by protecting them, helping them and putting them first. When, in actuality I’m planting seeds in their heart, mind and experience that says, “Life is about ME”.

Being a Helicopter Mom or an Airplane Mom

One of Vicki’s examples was throwing elaborate birthday parties. She gave an example of a pirate themed party she gave for her son when he was little–complete with a treasure map and walking the plank. I started getting a little antsy, because I threw the best pirate party ever for Asa. And while listening to her talk, I was in the middle of planning his big Flying Ace party!

It made me evaluate what and why I am throwing these big parties! Is throwing a party for my son setting him up for thinking the world celebrates him? People should come around him to throw gifts and honor at him just for being born?!

It’s still a question I struggle with. I believe there are lots of good that comes from birthday parties (I may do a more fleshed out post or series about this), but I can also see how crazy it can become, too. If I throw an elaborate 10 year old birthday, what will the 16 year old party have to be? The High School graduation? The 21st birthday? The wedding? When does it end?

I think it has to do with exactly the point of Vicki’s talk: is our home God-centric? Or kid-centric? Are we throwing parties (or helping with homework, or doing sports or taking ballet) because of a kid-centric attitude? Or a God-centric attitude?

Instead of turning my children into demi-gods that I worship and lead others in worshiping (I’m not talking about parties here, just a general attitude), I want to be the mom that sets my kids up for flight.

helicopter mom versus the airplane mom

I don’t want to be a helicopter mom. I want to be an airplane mom! I want to be the one that trains with my kids, helps with their pre-flight check, teaches them to buckle up and allows them to go down the runway listening to their air-traffic controller and then take flight!

I want to send them into life to soar! Yes, leaving me on the ground. Alone.

It is my heart’s desire to see my children do MORE than what I’ve done. To love God BEYOND what I do. To see them serve BETTER than I have done.

So, in this time of birthday parties, school projects and playgrounds, I’m purposing in my heart to center my home on God. To take my kids off a pedestal and help them kneel before the one true God, the object of our real affection.

Lord, I pray you would help me lead my children in loving you and serving you first! Help me raise children who are lovers of you instead of lovers of self! I pray they would do nothing out of vain conceit, but consider others better than themselves. Empower me to lead by example and put you first in my own life!

bible craft

ps: Due to the amazing Flying Ace Party, I’m postponing my Backyard Bloggy Party and relaunch. So, stay tuned, the fun is coming in a few days!

pps: the cardboard airplane Asa is sporting is from KC Wearables. Because I know you were wondering!


  1. I’m often tempted to be that helicopter mom! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Thanks so much for this! I have read Vicki’s thoughts on this before, but it is such a great reminder, especially as my kids are in high school!

  3. Wow! Thank you for the recap. I spent more time talking to my husband about this session than any other. I liked her phrase to her husband when he asked, ‘What about me?’ She replied, ‘You can wipe your nose, get a drink, …. Take care of yourself.’ I am so there! But I love him too. So I started studying the parent relationships in the Bible to see what I can learn from them. Blogging it all at bethhoweonline.com.

  4. Very powerful — I think I’m going to be thinking on this one in the coming days. I would love to see a series come from this post.

  5. SleepyKnitter says:

    Love this post! Could the next post be “what a God-centric” home might look like in contrast to a “kid-centric” home?

  6. elizabeth c says:

    wow! i appreciate this post. I have always taken offense at the generalization of helicopter mom’s (i know that many would put me in this category) because I get so tired of the “ME” mom’s who don’t pay a lick of attention to their kids at the playground, or the stores, or who take their kids to the late showings of movies that are WAY too old for them because the parents are putting themselves first.

    But this is such an interesting perspective and I love your description of an airplane mom and a God-centric home.

    Thank you, this will definitely be something that I hope will help shape our home not only this week but for all our weeks going forward.

    • I totally get you, Elizabeth! It’s a hard balance. I think it boils down to attitude…why are we helping out our kids? So we can say “look at my parenting skills”? Or because we want to raise them to follow the Lord? It’s hard, tho’, huh?!

      Thanks for your insight!

      • Elizabeth c says:

        A good (hard) question…that’s a really good way to evaluate it. I greatly appreciate the insights you share on your blog… You last few post have been particularly poignant for me. Now if I can only apply them in lasting ways. (also really looking forward to the Christmas countdown)

  7. Amanda…great article! I’m impressed!

  8. Awesome!

  9. Oh, how those words come right from my heart. I love parties, but where my focus is should always be on giving God the glory. This is a tough topic for mommies. Praying with ya on this one.

  10. This is great advice! When we plant a garden we can’t see the fruit of our labor for months. Similarly, when we parent we often can’t see the fruit of our attitudes and behavior towards our children until years later.

    I think we have to look at all we do for our children, especially gifts. When we do $200 birthday/Christmas gifts for 3 year olds, what kind of bar are we setting for when they are 10, 16, and 21?

    What kind of joy (and skill building) do we rob them of when we make everything easy for them, so they don’t have to struggle to achieve?

    This is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. I have seen too many children short-changed by well-meaning parents.

  11. this post just hit my ‘reset’ button…thank you. your desires are my desires but that doesn’t always guide my parenting. i especially loved the reminder that i need to dream of an even bigger and better faith for my kids than i have…thinking about that actually brought tears to my eyes.

  12. THIS is why I love reading your blog. You show the real stuff..what we, as moms struggle with, but bringing it back to….the one who means the most…

  13. Such a great post, Amanda! Thank you.
    And a thought about parties- if you are doing the parties just to make a big deal out of your kids, then that is not good. But what I see in you (and other creatives including myself) is that planning a party is an opportunity to express the God given creativity that we have been given. I have watched as my kids have loved their parties- and then have used their own creativity to plan their own parties. It is a beautiful thing and I think it goes with the idea of being God-centric (love that term!). If God has made you creative, celebrate that! Your kids will benefit from you being who God has made you to be.
    Oh, you have left me with so many thoughts- thank you!!!!

  14. “So we can say “look at my parenting skills”? Or because we want to raise them to follow the Lord?” As the Director of Kid’s Ministry I have seen the trends in parenting come and go. In the past 20 years, this style, Helicopter Parenting, is the one I most despise. You wonderfully explained the reasons why in this article and I thank you for your transparency.

  15. This is why I have always been about over the top parties. But I could stand on a high horse and say that I have not made my kids the center, but I have just in different form. It is really hard because everything around us says to make a big deal out of our kid’s every single moment. It is hard to find a balance. Everyone just expresses it in their own way. Thanks for this post.

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