Helicopter Parents Pose Longterm Effects on Children

Helicopter parenting, also known as intensive parenting or overparenting, is a behavior in which well-intentioned parents hover over children instead of encouraging children to be confident, independent individuals. The problem really begins in that most helicopter parents have no sense that they are demonstrating this behavior. To the parent, it just seems like they are demonstrating concern. They do not realize when they cross the line. At the same time, parents want to be the best advocate for their children and as a result, helicopter parenting occurs. Unfortunately, there are harmful effects of helicopter parenting.

Difficulty making decisions

Children of helicopter parents often have difficulty making decisions for themselves. This is evident even in simple situations. These students often have difficulty choosing topics for writing or deciding on a book to read. Helicopter parenting makes it so the child is not able to make the decision alone. The child has become accustomed to having the parent make the decisions. Then when it comes to decisions the child should be able to make independently, the child has difficulty.

Difficulty turning in assignments

Evidence of helicopter parenting can foster itself in unintended ways. Helicopter parents want their children to be able to successfully achieve and be proud of that achievement, but the result can be academically not submitting assignments. Students with this situation will complete assignments and not turn them in. Often they will have an assignment 75% complete, but then they will fail to finish the project and will take a poor grade or even a zero. The helicopter parents then step into rescue the child and the cycle continues.

Lose sense of consequence

For some children, they lose the sense of natural consequence. Due to parents who swoop in and solve problems for the child, the child does not suffer the uncomfortable experience of the consequence of poor decisions. An example of this is a child who has a discipline issue in school. The helicopter parent comes to school to step in to solve the problem. The lesson the child learns is that the school has been undermined and the child can behave without worry of consequences. As young adults, the consequences become more severe and often lead to issues that parents cannot solve such as with law enforcement. 

May lead to depression

Recent studies have shown that children of those who over-parent have a greater likelihood to suffer with depression. The study conducted on graduate students by the University of Mary yielded the results that the more inappropriate the levels were of parental involvement the lower the child’s sense was of personal confidence and ability to interact with others. These individuals had a lowered sense of self worth and were more likely to have symptoms of depression. There is some evidence that links overparenting to eating disorders such as anorexia. The amount of food a person consumes is under the child’s control and not the parent.

Become quitters

One major concern is that children end up raised to be quitters. If not everything goes the way the helicopter parent wants or the child wants, the tendency is to quit. Children are allowed to quit a sport because it is taught that it is not acceptable to be less than the best. These children are known to walk out of difficult situations rather than working out difficult situations.

Difficulties at college

The symptoms of helicopter parenting have even integrated itself into the college environment. Helicopter parents try to discuss grades with college professors, but students at that time are considered adults and must communicate about their problems by themselves. College professors demeaned students as “crispies” and “tea cups.” Crispies are students that arrive at college already burned out. The teacups are students who are so fragile that they cannot handle any type of criticism whatsoever.

Difficulty as adults

As adults, children who were raised by helicopter parents sometimes have difficulty leaving home, getting and holding jobs, and maintaining relationships. The habit of having parents overparenting leads to adults who expect parents to supply money, food, homes and more. Parents continue to overparent in relationships with spouses and grand children.

There is a fine line between being a concerned parent and being a helicopter parent. Remember it is acceptable for children to struggle sometimes and even realize that they may not be the best player on the team. Participation and acceptance are important lessons to learn to. Always looks for ways to allow the child to think independently and let the child make decisions in appropriate situations. Value their ideas but do not create children who do not value their own ideas.