I feel uncomfortable with the idea that G‑d is always watching me. It seems stifling to think that I am under constant surveillance. I had enough helicopter parenting when I was a kid. Do I really need someone breathing down my neck all day as an adult?


I agree, the last thing we need is for G‑d to be a helicopter parent. But I don't think that’s what He is.

There are three models of parenting: the helicopter, the spaceship and the sailboat.

A helicopter parent hovers around their child, correcting every mistake, shielding every threat, catching every fall. They don't allow their child to speak for themselves, take risks or get hurt. Though it all comes from love, they are not giving their child room to grow.

Then there is the spaceship parent. They are on another planet. The children have to raise themselves. Left to their own devices, they spend most of their time on their own devices. These spaceship parents are too busy with their own lives, or too lazy or timid to lay down rules. With unfettered access to the web and the pantry, the kids are left out in space on their own.

To be sure, there are times when we need to be a helicopter parent, and times to be a bit like a spaceship parent. When kids are very young, we need to watch their every move. And when kids have grown up, we have to give them space. But for the many years in between, we need to employ a third model of parenting—the sailboat.

Your child is sailing through the ocean of life. You need to be the wind in their sails. From a safe distance, blow them words of encouragement; give subtle advice and gentle direction to help steer the boat. The child has to navigate the waves themselves, buoyed by the loving support and consistent guidance of their parents behind them.

G‑d is our sailboat parent. He is with us on our travels. He stands behind us through our ups and downs. He keeps us company in our loneliness. He cheers us along in our challenges. He sends us strength and encouragement in our weak moments. And He celebrates our victories, big and small. He doesn't smother us, and He doesn't abandon us. He gives us everything we need to thrive, and then lets us do it.

G‑d, like a good parent, is our biggest fan. He is not breathing down our necks; He breathes wind into our sails.


Address to children in summer day camps, 13 Menachem Av, 5739 - Likutei Sichot Vol 24, p. 276.