Helicopter parenting has been called a 21st century phenomenon. These are parents, who no doubt have the best of intentions, but hover like a helicopter micromanaging every detail of their kid’s lives.
Certainly, parents’ involvement in their children’s lives is a good thing. Supportive relationships are the foundation of a healthy and productive life. But family psychologists concur that over involvement can undermine a child’s ability to foster independence and advocate for themselves.
We might ask if it’s the same with our health. According to various Canadian health advisory committees, too much hovering by us or by practices within the current health care system, leads not only to less patient self-responsibility but also to rising costs of overtesting and overtreatment.
And we are not alone in spending excessive thought and cost on our health care. We keep good company with Britain and the United States. Britain’s National Health Service was first to raise the alarm about the substantial financial waste of overtreatments, such as unnecessary testing and screening programs that provide little useful information, and recommend that these things need to be rethought.
Programs such as the Choosing Wisely Canada campaign are helping to redefine health care by targeting unnecessary testing. We all want a system of care that does not unwittingly turn people into patients.
Canadian researcher, Alan Cassels, co-authored a book titled: Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease. The authors express a concern that many tests can lead to risks known as ‘false positive’ results that can lead to enormous anxiety, as well as invasive investigations. They summarize that overtreatment is not only financially costly but can also be physically harmful.
But, it is possible to overcome the fear and anxiety that triggers the helicopter hovering effect. Even amid the pressures to accept this approach, we can choose to view these things differently.
We can, for example, start by rethinking who the real parent is.
A glimpse of God creating, nurturing and restoring us, is given in early Scripture: ‘Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?’(Mal. 2:10)
The Psalmist then gives us a promise of the over arching care this divine Parent provides: ‘He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.’(Ps. 91:4)
And, woven throughout the Scriptures are stories of lives sustained and restored by acknowledging a relationship to a loving Creator. The thousands of years in between then and now have not diminished in any way the practical power of understanding that relationship.
Theologian Mary Baker Eddy grasped a demonstrable sense of God’s promise to sustain His creation. Her deep research of the Bible, and the healing effects that followed it, shed light on the origin of our being and the source of our health. ‘God is the parent Mind, and man is God’s spiritual offspring,’ she wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. (p.336)
Drawing closer to this parent Mind and understanding better our relationship to a loving Father-Mother, can help us be free of the fear that drives us into a body-focused, helicopter health culture.
Health is more than a bunch of physical measurements, opines healthcare journalist Charles Ornstein. “It’s about a state of mind and we have to be careful not to undermine that state of mind.” Among things he cites as part of our overall well-being is to develop good relationships and to find things that produce meaning in our lives
Good relationships are key; and none is more practical than the one we have with the Divine.
As I am a regular a community blogger for Metroland Media throughout Ontario, you can also read this article on the Mississauga News.