A relatively new parenting term that has been introduced within the last decade is “helicopter parents”. We all know who they are. They are the moms or dads who over-parent their children to the point that their kids cannot do anything on their own. The term was initially coined by Foster W. Cline, MD and Jim Fay in a parenting book they wrote in the 1990’s. Since then, the term has been used by college admissions counselors, teachers, coaches and others to describe this phenomenon of parents hovering over their children at every opportunity. For instance, a helicopter parent might decide to write their high school senior’s college application essay or hire a publicity firm for the class elections. These parents are ready at any moment to swoop in to fix problems and fight battles. Generally, they spend way too much time planning for, helping, and protecting their children.
Recently, there seems to have been a backlash against over-parenting children as researchers are starting to note college students are less-prepared to function on their own. They cite low self-esteem and immaturity as the culprits. Basically, parents have extending the child rearing years well into adulthood by helping their young adults to select their classes, decide if they should go to graduate school or not and even by negotiating employment and salary on their behalf. Did the parents intentionally create adults who cannot manage their own lives? Once parents started to understand the importance of parental involvement and how it could improve academic performance, social adjustment and child development, they passionately took hold of the idea. Some just did not know where to stop. Now other parents are looking at the results and realizing a more hands off or “free range” approach might work better.
Another factor that may have ignited helicopter parents is fear. Parents are expected to protect their children from every possible scenario which is simply impossible to do. Parents have to understand that their children cannot be sheltered from every evil or wrong in the world. Going through some difficult times is what helps their children as much as anything else. Over-protecting them appears to only hurt them in the long run. What about all of the dangers that are out there? Pedophiles, kidnappers and poisoned Halloween candy are highlights of both news and urban myths. However, when actually facts are studied, the risks are relatively small. For instance, the chances of being kidnapped and murdered by a stranger are 1 in 1.5 million and there are no correct reports of children receiving tainted Halloween candy from strangers. There are risks and dangers in the world but sometimes we overreact to dangers that are not statistically significant.
What can parents do to find the healthy balance? Of course parents should be involved and interested in their children’s lives. They should be concerned about school performance and social interests without taking over every detail. One expert recommends acting as a coach in certain instances by providing all of the information, training, and access to tools and resources that are available, but then stepping back to let the child perform. By taking this approach, the child can find their own way without hovering, helicopter parents who might do more harm than good.
Latest News Stories:
Marina Picasso, granddaughter of the celebrated Spanish artist Pablo Picasso decided to sell two...
Results of a study by Dr. Zhiyong Yang from the University of Texas Arlington...