“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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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,