September 10, 2013

Helicopter Parenting

Since humans were around there have been protective parents.  The natural instincts of a parent is to help their children, and to try and help them be the best that they can.  However, the number of overly protective parents has suddenly grown exponentially.  This sudden increase is probably due mostly to technology, and the ability it gives parents to contact their child instantly.  Only recently has an official term, for the overly protective parents, been coined.  The term is “helicopter parents.”  These parents are the ones that do everything they can to keep their child from getting hurt, emotionally or physically.  They are the parents who will call their child's teacher to argue over grades, text their child repeatedly to make sure they are “ok,” and who may even ask their child to keep skype on all night so that they can keep on eye on them (Time Health & Family).  These parents need to stop hovering not only because they are doing strange things while trying to help their kids, but also because what they are doing may be accomplishing the opposite of what they want.

 

Recent studies have shown that children who have been hovered over have a tendency towards self-doubt.  These kids parents mean the best but their method of helping is actually backfiring.  When kids get a A- on a rather tricky test they should be pleased with themselves.  However, when a helicopter parent calls the teacher who graded the test in order to quibble over the grade it makes the child feel inadequate.  Instead of being pleased with their accomplishment they may doubt themselves.  They may say to themselves, I could have done better. I could have pleased my mom if I had only gotten an A.  Children shouldn’t feel this way and I am sure this is not how their hovering parent(s) wants them to feel.  The thing is that the intention doesn’t match up with the actual results.  Plus, self-doubt can lead to another thing.

Self-doubt naturally leads into depression, whether its long term depression or short term feelings.  Children who have been subject to helicopter parenting often feel self doubt.  If they feel this way for an extended period of time it can leak into everything they do.  The child can feel inadequate, unwanted, or lonely.  These are certainly three things that parents don’t want their child to feel.  But, depression is the reality for many helicoptered children (Huffpost Healthy Living).  The child may suffer from depression for only a short time, but often these short time episodes can build on each other, snowballing into a long term thing.  Often these feelings don’t start until the child has moved and is working or in college.  They feel inadequate to continue doing what they are, and often parents don’t even realize what they have done because their child continues to walk on the treadmill their parents have put together for them.

 

But what about the people who have been helicoptered and who don’t find themselves in this self-deprecating and depressed state?  Well, some children are built up by this method of parenting.  They find a sense of pride in the fact that they never seem to fail, and that their parents are there to see them through everything.  When the changed grade comes in they think: I knew I did better than they originally said!  Their parents hovering gives them a false sense of pride and achievement.  This false sense of self-worth is something just as dangerous as depression.  Some people wonder how that is, how can such things as feeling proud, like you achieved something, and that you are worthwhile be dangerous.  Well the fact is that these children haven’t ever experienced failure.  Their hovering parents haven’t let them learn how to pick themselves back up after life has knocked them, down (USA Today).  They haven’t learned how to deal with the “real world.”  These kids parents are setting them up so that the first time they get knocked down it will be much harder than it has to be.  

I have never met anybody, which I know of, that was helicopter parented.  However, I do know several people who have friends that helicopter parent.  These parents make a chore out of being a parent.  Really, parenting is tricky there is a lot you have to think about and take care of, but helicopter parents make it something that is almost like a living hell.  They work super hard to make sure that their child is safe, happy, and successful.  What helicopter parents need to realize is that they can relax.  They can sit back and take a few minutes to read, knit, or go out with their spouse.  As their child grows they should let their children do more things on their own.

  

Studies have shown that the hard work helicopter parents put into making themselves fly to the rescue, and hovering is simply not worth it.  All their hard work can lead to many things they never intended or wanted for their children, such as depression, self-doubt, or a false sense of security.  You need to let your children become competent adults.  Parents let your children fall and then help them get back up if you need to.  But don’t try to fly them through life.  Help and guide but don’t put yourself between them and the little hardships.  you never know when a stronger wind may push them down, so let them build up their resistance, and gain a true sense of self-worth.  If you want to be an effective parent then stop hovering, and if you know somebody who hovers you may want to help them see that hovering accomplishes the opposite of what they want for their children.

2 comments:

  1. You might enjoy this. An interview with Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids.

    Lenore and Izzie Skenazy New York Adventure
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkRQE011vNY

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the link! I love reading further.

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