Parenting is probably the world’s most difficult job and it is natural to feel anxious and doubt your credibility as a parent. New parents often read books, consult their friends and family and talk to psychologists to understand how to fulfil the responsibility that comes with being a parent. There are many different styles of parenting, and a quite unpopular one is helicopter parenting.
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Helicopter Parenting: Things You Should Know
What does one mean by “Helicopter Parenting”?
The term “helicopter parent” was coined in the book Parents and Teenagers by Dr. Haim Ginott’s in the year 1969. This style of parenting comes from the fact that these parents hover over their children all the time, and since then this term has gained popularity Helicopter parenting is a method of parenting where the parents are over-focused over what their children do and tend to take too much responsibility for their children’s achievements or losses. It is natural for parents to worry about you child but if you are a helicopter parent you are being involved in a child’s life in a way that is over-controlling, and overprotective. Responsible parenting is good but if you want your child to be perfect and excel in everything they do, and become so invested in their lives that you give them no freedom, it is restrictive and disadvantageous.
Who is a Helicopter Parent?
If a parent involves themselves too much in the life of a child when they are perfectly capable of making decisions for themselves then they are a helicopter parent. If a parent calls a professor about their child’s grades, or managing their life and deciding which friends they should hang out with when they are in their late-teens, they are indulging in helicopter parenting. This mode of parenting can be practiced by parents of children between the ages of four to eleven as well. If parents constantly interfere in how their child behaves or plays or eats, and gives them no alone time or no scope to make a mistake, then they can be called helicopter parents.
Why do Parents Hover?
The reasons that prompt the parents to choose and practice this kind of parenting are:
Fear of Terrible Consequences
Bad marks, not qualifying to be a member of a soccer team or math league, or not getting a certain professional achievement can seem like a disaster to a parent, especially when they think they can solve the problem by involving themselves in it. But if one tries to restrict normal feelings of unhappiness, struggle and hard work without guaranteed success, kids lack confidence
Feelings of Anxiety
Parents worry about the highly competitive economy, the unpredictable job market and the stressful university environment, which makes them overprotective and they monitor every action of their children to prevent being hurt or disappointed.
Adult parents who felt unloved, neglected, or ignored in their lives as children can overcompensate with their own children by showering them with excessive attention to fill the void that was present in them as children.
Peer Pressure from other Parents
If you are friends with a group of parents who practice helicopter parenting, it can make you feel like bad parents for giving space to your children. The dynamic of guilt comes into play and you tend to feel bad for not being overprotective and over involved in your child’s life.
What are the Consequences of Helicopter Parenting?
Helicopter parents begin with the intention to love, but to find the balance between being engaged enough in the children’s lives to be helpful but so engaged that we lose perspective of what might be good for their children can be tricky. Healthy engagement with your child builds self-confidence, and harbors feelings of love and self-confidence. But if parenting becomes governed by fear and self-righteousness, it can result in undesirable consequences.
Decrease in Confidence and Self-Esteem
Helicopter parenting usually backfires because the child feels incapable of making decisions until their parents’ guide them and feel like they are not trusted enough by their parents to do the task on their own.
Undeveloped Coping Skills
Children of helicopter parents do not learn to clean their own mess as their parents handle it or are always around to prevent loss and failure. When they face disappointment in their lives as adults, they do not feel competent enough to deal with it alone.
A scientific study published by the University of Mary Washington has shown that overparenting is linked with higher levels of child anxiety and depression. Lack of confidence and trust in themselves can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-hate.
Sense of Entitlement
Helicopter parents can unknowingly create a sense of social and academic security as they have always adjusted the problems for their children in this area. Hence these children are used to having it their way and feel entitled.
Undeveloped Life Skills
Parents who clean the room, monitor school progress, laundry clothes and pack lunches for their children even after they are capable of doing that on their own stop their children from developing basic life skills. These children find it increasingly difficult to be self-sufficient.
Parents who always tie shoes, clear plates, pack lunches, launder clothes, and monitor school progress, even after children are mentally and physically capable of doing the task, prevent their children from mastering these skills themselves.
How can you avoid being a Helicopter Parent?
Parenting is an extremely difficult job. As your child grows in mental and physical terms, one needs to keep an eye on their emotions and strengths. Gradually you have to let go of the amount you control with age. You need to take a step back and not jump in to solve your child’s problem unless it is necessary. Letting your child build basic life skills, slowly take charge of their academic and social life, will encourage children to be reliant and self-confident members of society.