the hover-mother syndrome

I feel the “disease” plaguing me at times. The hover-mother syndrome. It’s when I hover over my kids just to make sure they follow all the “shoulds.” I hover so they don’t get too wild or too disobedient or too…well…out of my control.

God has patiently been working on me, slowly breaking my control-freakishness. Because it isn’t freedom for anyone — this hover syndrome.

So when I sense the thing flaring up, I purposefully try to remember a few key things He’s taught me.


Fields of Joy, Soustons, France
flickr photo credit


1. Train up, not control.

The Bible never says, “Fathers and mothers, control your children.” These kids aren’t mine to control. Really, nothing is mine to control. My calling is to train them up in the Lord.

Just like I said the other day, we set rules and teach God’s “law” but not because the laws will change their souls. Or even control them. God’s law is there to reveal our sin and desperation for a Savior. (Romans 7:7)

So I imperfectly teach them His ways throughout our day and then discipline (inconsistently at times) when they fail. But not because I think the laws will heal them. I have to trust Him to pierce and transform their hearts. He does the soul-work.

Train up, not control. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)


flickr photo credit

2. Take three steps back and stop talking.

Sometimes He speaks very literally with me. “Step back and close your sweet little mouth,” He says. Well, sometimes He’s more stern.

When I feel the need to hover I often have to physically step away and close my mouth, remembering point number one and then doing point number three. (Proverbs 13:3; Psalm 141:3)


flickr photo credit

3. Pray. It’s your fierce weapon in the battle for their souls.

True, I can’t control them. It isn’t my job as the parent. But I can stand in the gap. Because of Jesus’ blood over me, I can enter into the courts of my God and intercede for my kids.

But I don’t pray out of fear. At least not as often as I used to. I’m learning to pray with bold declaration of His promises. “You, Lord, love them more than I could ever love them. Work Your good will into their lives. Give them a love for Your statutes. I trust You.” (Matthew 6:7-13; Romans 8:38-39)


Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10


We can live free from that inner control-freak. Jesus died to set us free. But we need Him to open our eyes to when we grasp for the reigns of life. Then through His empowering we release people and situations to Him. We step back and close our mouths. And we pray fervently.

Fill me, Lord…

What or who do you find yourself hovering over in efforts to control?
How can we release those things and people to God?


  • jenbutterfield

    I am the ultimate hovering Mom. This was a very helpful reminder. You put it so perfectly when you said about God saying β€œStep back and close your sweet little mouth,”. I also see my husbands face and he is trying to say the same thing. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Ha. I know what you mean. I see it on my kids faces at time, “Mom, back off.”

  • Markeitha Christian

    Hi Lara!
    Really enjoyed you last month in Richardson:-) I too have been inflicted with this “disease”. I struggle with the gray areas of mothering. An I not disciplining enough? Should I let this slide? Do my children really respect me? I also take it personal when they act up:-( I know I shouldn’t and I am praying for help with that. Thanks for this reminder that I am not required to control! Once I get that together I will feel less pressure because helicoptering over 5 children and a husband is a tough job:-)

    • I really enjoyed my time in Richardson too! And yes, mothering is the hardest job I have ever done. And I don’t even have a teen yet! God has been teaching me to trust His Spirit within me especially with those gray areas. It is so hard though. Blessings in your mommy journey.

  • OOOO>…..This was meant for me! Thank you! I am the mother of a 19 and a 22 year old and I still hover, try to control and worry. It’s bad. I know. But I am trying! I know that God has my girls in His hands, but I still try to butt in and “help” Him. Thanks for the kick in the shin…I needed it! πŸ™‚

    • Oops. Hope your shin feels ok. πŸ˜‰ It is so easy to want to do — hover! I can only imagine that it gets harder the older they get, because they are so independent. Praying you find great peace and even joy in releasing them to our God.

  • domesticblissdiaries

    I have an active three-year-old little boy who is obedient MOST of the time. I find that I have a harder time getting him to obey when there are a lot of people around. I also struggle when he is around both us (my husband and I) and his grandparents (either my parents or my in-laws). I’m pretty sure this is because he “gets away” with more when he’s with them.

    Because he doesn’t listen as well in these circumstances, I feel like I have to raise my voice just to get him to hear me and i end up speaking more harshly out of frustration. And, when he starts acting out, I go into hover mode. I just had a tal with my husband last night about this as we had just left a wedding and I was exhausted from “hovering”. I told him that I end up looking like a “mean mommy” or, at least, one that has no control of her child.

    I don’t know exactly how to remedy this situation. It doesn’t help that I’m in my mid- twenties, he is my first kid, and I have NO IDEA what I’m doing half the time….

    • Oh girl, you are not alone. I have three kids and I still feel like I don’t know what I am doing sometimes. I wish I had all the answers for you, but alas, I don’t. However, a couple of things.

      One is remember that this stage will pass. Three year olds are fiesty and figuring out that they have an opinion. Your consistency with boundaries will help — whether with a group or alone. Maybe when you are in a group setting and he acts up you could try to take him to another room for discipline. Also, just keep praying. Pray for wisdom. Pray for his heart. Just pray. God knows the wisdom you need in each situation. You will mess up — we all do! Every single day! That’s why there’s grace. Our God forgives and we get back up and be mommy again. Blessings, sister.

  • Tina

    Dear Lara,
    I saved this post for a rainy day. It is so true. Parents/mothers want to control. I realized this early in my first child’s life.
    I recently read a book about parenting teenagers that I wish I had read much earlier than their teenage years. I wish I had read this book when my kids were toddlers! It is called “Losing Control and Liking it,” put out by Focus on the Family, written by Tim Sanford. You will find it here:

  • This is beautiful and challenging. I LOVE this post. Sunshine

  • Norma

    thank you for posting this in your blog. WOW! What a revelation of ‘hovering’ and SO graciously laid out for us to apply the Word of God to overcome this ‘hovering once and for all. Easy application steps for our every day lives.