Parenting

Mother of Four, Lawyer, and (Gasp!) Housewife Explains Why She's Not a Helicopter Parent

Editor’s Note: As our parenting section continues to expand its content, we want to give you a chance to get to know our writers on a more personal level as they share their insights on parenting, their lives before parenthood and much more. Our previous interviews were with Julie PrinceFaith MooreLauren Spagnoletti, Stephen Kruiser, Rhonda Robinsonand John Ellis

This week we chat with mother of four, Leslie Loftis, whose life has taken some interesting turns. You can read her articles here.

How did you get into writing?

If you had told me or any of my teachers prior to law school, that someday I would be a writer, all of us would have laughed out loud. I did not learn to write until law school. Then, a few years after graduation, I took a position as in-house counsel for an oil company and often wrote memos explaining legal issues to non-lawyer professionals, specifically engineers. It was the first time I’d ever been complimented on writing.  That started the bug.

So when did you make the switch to political writing?

Fast forward a few years. We had two children, I had left law practice and my husband was transferred to London. From there I wrote letters to friends, comparing British and U.S. politics and culture. It was 2006, when blogs were all the rage, so my husband set up a blog for me. But then twins came along, and I got too busy to do anything with it. But in the grassroots surge after Obama was elected, I started writing. It was part doing something and part practice, knocking the rust off skills after early motherhood. Two years later, I commented on an article on early marriage and someone from PJ Media noticed it, found my blog, and reached out to contribute content to the site. That was four years ago.

How would you describe your parenting style?

Most would call me a free range parent, but I’m actually a housewife. My border collie taught me this before we had kids. I was training her, doing positive reinforcement, home cooking all of her food, and basically hovering over her like helicopter parents hover over children. At six months old, she could out run me and I had absolutely no control over her. I couldn’t protect her. I realized I was failing at this miserably.

Raising dogs runs parallel to kids, just simpler and shorter, so by the time my son came along I had no intention of falling into the hovering parent trap. Besides, my husband and I are a team, and helicopter “parenting” is really about maternal control. From the beginning we have been big on independence and slowly building their skills and internal moral compass. When parents try to control everything, then their children don’t learn any self control. And besides, parents can’t control them. The breaking point is the third kid. After my twins came, 2008 and 2009 were a blur—a complete and utter blackout. To this day I’ll hear what I think is a new song on the radio, only to learn it was a smash hit in the summer of ’08.

How did your parenting style change for each of your kids?

Looking back, my eldest son is by far my easiest child. My second child, a daughter, is relatively well behaved. When I had them at three and one-and-half years old in London I felt like I had it down. My children were thriving and well-behaved and intelligent and on schedules. But God has a sense of a humor. One of my twins tries to do everything her way on principle. Every time I think I have this parenting thing figured out, she surprises me. She reminds me, “don’t get cocky, you only think you know it all.”

What are the go-to blogs you follow regularly that are a must for other parents?

I don’t follow a lot of how-to parenting blogs, more thinking about big life issues ones. I’m in love with the Babylon Bee because it is so cutting, but the ones I try not to miss posts for are Mockingbird and The Gospel Side.

Get to Know Leslie Better:

  1. I can’t live without: Chocolate or tomatoes. Not together, obviously.
  2. If I had one week and an endless budget, I’d escape with my family to: Southern Italy
  3. The book I can’t put down right now is: Sadly, I’ve not had a “can’t put down” book in a while. Between writing and motherhood, I just don’t have time for novels right now.
  4. One piece of advice I’d give my teenage self would be: Read/watch/listen to more classic works. (See above about put down books. Back then I had time. Now I don’t.)
  5. Parenting is: a very long process.