Are You A Helicopter Parent?

“A helicopter parent is a colloquial, early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not. In Scandinavia, this phenomenon is known as curling parenthood and describes parents who attempt to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children. Parents try to resolve their child’s problems, and try to stop them coming to harm by keeping them out of dangerous situations. (Wikipedia)”

Does this sound familiar? Are you a helicopter parent? If so, it’s time to land your chopper, and fast.

helicopter parents

I think we’re all guilty of helicopter parenting to some extent. After all, there is no love in this world quite like the love for a child. That protective feeling that comes over you, that unconditional love is a very powerful thing. It’s probably the only person or persons you would throw yourself in front of a moving vehicle for.

I can recall a few instances of being a semi-psycho helicopter parent myself. My big son is a very sweet, and very sensitive young boy. He doesn’t always stand up for himself in situations, and this kills me. He sometimes allows other children to walk all over him. So while my husband and I have tried to teach him the necessary skills to fight his own battles, there have been times where the protective side of me has come out and shown its ugly face . You mess with my family, you mess with me.

My three year old is a completely different story. I will never have to helicopter him. I may have to bail him out of prison one day, but I will never have to helicopter him!  Gotta love children who come from the same DNA and yet couldn’t seem more unrelated (just kidding about the prison part. He’s a sweetie. Just a tough sweetie)!

I can think of other ways I have witnessed my family members speak to my son in a helicopter-like manner, for example, “You’re the best hockey player out there on the ice,” if he’s crying. I, of course step in and say, “No he’s not the best, but as long as he’s trying his best, that’s the best for me.” We have all seen the parents who tell their kids that they’re the best, to give them confidence. To me, this is crippling. For me, I’d rather let them know it’s a tough world out there. There’s always gonna be someone smarter, prettier, richer, thinner, and the list goes on. Give them the tools to nurture their self esteem and confidence, not provide false illusions. But that’s just me.

helicopter parent

So why do we hover so closely over our children? And why should we STOP hovering so closely? I have to tell you, I’m often on the fence about when I need to step in, and when I need to step back. I assume you want your children to grow up to be independent thinkers, assertive, and not spoiled. If you don’t care about this, don’t read on. If you do care, you should know a few things:

  1. First, it’s never too late to change.  That’s some good news! And then ask yourself what your children are learning from your “Let me fix it sweetheart” behavior. Seriously, will they ever learn how to stick up for themselves if you’re always there poking your nose in their business? This will only teach them to become passive and lazy, as they will always expect someone to come in and save the day for them.
  2. If you have an older child, as in college-age, STOP CALLING EVERY DAY. Let them breathe a little and figure out their way in this world without you quizzing them on homework, friends, and sex.
  3. Remember that your child, no matter how young, has the right to privacy. They need room to make mistakes and learn from them. If you’re always there waiting for a fight to break out, or a problem to occur, they ain’t gonna make it in the real world. That’s a promise. Be supportive when they make a mistake, but don’t rush to fix it before it happens.
  4. By hovering, you’re not grooming them to be the super-successful person you hoped you were. You are a creating a needy individual whose wings you are clipping right from underneath them. No further explanation needed.

So the next time you feel the urge to jump in, stop, stand back and let your child do the talking. Let them learn how to fend for themselves. It’s a process, no doubt. With your guidance and support beside them, and not on top of them, they will thrive.

Tell us ladies, what do you think?

Until next time, from sunny Florida,

xoxEDxox

14 Comments
  1. As I read over the blog this morning, I wanted to reiterate the fact that I nurture my kids, I hug and kiss my kids, and spend all my time with my kids. I didn’t want it to come across that I believe solely in tough love, and throwing yours kids into the fire to fend for themselves. I do however, believe in teaching them the skills to become independent, resilient and hard working.
    E

  2. I’m newly married and don’t have kids yet but I’m not on the fence with this one. I will NEVER become a helicopter parent. I see those mothers at my nephews birthday parties. They hover like crazy! Its so annoying. I agree Erica to give your kids the tools to become independent and not bud in and solve all their lifes problems.

  3. There r so many helicopter parents out there that just can’t help themselves. We all try our best. There is no rule book. Only life experiences will teach them when to back down. Happy New Year to all

  4. I think this is a tough subject for many mommies out there. I have six children, two of which are grown and out of the house. You really do have to let them experience life, even if it means watching them fall on their faces. I’ve had to stand on the sidelines many times and witness the unravelling of my babes. It’s one of the most difficult things that a parent can do. But, because of it, they are stronger and more productive adults.

    You have to trust that you have given them the tools to make good decisions and also trust them to make them. Of course, this takes time and lots of practice. I’m in my 26th year of parenting, so I’ve had time to think about this. Be well and Happy New Year!

  5. Great subject! I don’t have children (although 2 part-time). Over the Holidays my boyfriend (of 5 years), his two children and myself spent 4 days in a rented cottage with brother, his new girlfriend and their 4 children. Both parents drove me mad with their condescending remarks and worries towards their children (yes, in front of them!): “Her? she needs a personality injection” (reserved, calm, intellectual type), “She’s doing lousy in school – she can do much better” (82% average sounds good to me?)… “She has a learning disability” (she’s out of control!!) … etc. Not once did I hear positive reinforcement or focus on their abilities nor encouraging them to speak on their behalf as parents answered all of my questions for them. The kids were totally obnoxious at the table and we couldn’t put a word in. When brother started on one of mine, she calmly spoke her mind, and redirected the conversation (yessss!) I came out of our yearly family holiday not knowing anything new about their kids, but a whole lot about the new couple.
    So I agree with KellieS – let them breathe and guide them to make good judgments… their stronger and wiser than you give them credit for.

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