As I was coming down the mountain, this man coming up said out loud, "Rock the Hawk...?" His voice definitely asking, "What does that mean?" I instinctively and quickly turned to him and said, "My daughter got a mow hawk, I wanted to support her." His response summed up as, "Ummm," as he kept walking up the mountain.
I continued past him, and for some unexplained reason, a wave of emotion came over me, and soon tears were in my eyes. WHAT? WHY? My emotions are often too close to the surface and I can be highly pathetic. "WHY am I emotional?" I asked myself.
The next question that came to me was, "What's the difference between supporting your child (or children) compared to putting them first, you second? How are those two things different, and are they really different? "Yup" was the answer I came to.
When that man asked about my shirt, the words, "I wanted to support my daughter," came flying out with no hesitation. It was her choice to get the haircut, her choice to live with the consequences of either being teased, judged or mistaken for a boy. If we had been helicoptering, instead of supporting, I don't think the haircut would have happened.
Supporting seems to be more like drawing a line in the sand, saying "I stand for this, not that." Just as my son enjoys things my husband and I don't, doesn't mean we don't support him in his choices. I believe helicoptering would be trying to rein in their interests to match yours, yes?
But what if they're about to do something dangerous, very dangerous? Do you support or do you hover? The question I asked myself in those kinds of situations is, "Have we done all that we can to help them make the best choice, the safest choice, despite the potential for a negative or harmful outcome? If they get hurt, will I feel responsible, as if I set them up to fail? Or, is the possibility of getting hurt an outcome, a factor of life?" Do I support or do I hover?
On of our daughters was having a very difficult time at school last year due to some bullying. We took her out of school. At the time I wondered if we were supporting or rescuing. Turns out we were supporting her, and by doing so, she learned a lot of painful and very difficult lessons, but she's so much stronger for it. The possibility of getting hurt was just a factor of life.
I was getting my emotions back in check as I made my way down the mountain mulling over this concept of support vs. helicoptering. My daughter, thank God, is strong enough to have a completely funky haircut, and I realized, we are strong enough to let her face those consequences and wear a silly t-shirt.