Hovering over a child has consequences

It seems like each generation introduces some new parenting methods. From the generations of the “baby boomers” comes helicopter parenting. Most helicopter parents have the greatest intentions at heart. They want their children to be safe, happy, functioning people and free from pain, worry and struggle. However, much of what is required to be a functioning adult comes from worry, pain, failure, struggle and bad decisions experienced as children.

Helicopter parents prevent their child from fighting their own battles, making their own decisions and experiencing a full childhood. Technology has made it easier to hover. A helicopter parent can send texts, use the GPS system and know where the child is at all times. Often a helicopter parent will correct homework to the point that it looks nothing like what the child had done. Parents can be overly involved in the day to day living of their children. It is more than just overprotective, it is overdoing.

Does helicopter parenting really hurt the child? Dr. Stuart Brown reminds parents, “But part of being a parent is learning to accept the limitations of our ability to make our kids safe, successful and happy. All parents need to foster that internally driven, self-directed play that will allow children to become secure and self-confident on their own. There are risks to this sort of play, and the risks should be monitored and minimized. Trying to suppress free play or rigidly control kids’ activities poses, in my opinion in the long term, a far greater risk to their future health, success and happiness.” 

There are some very specific areas where children who have helicopter parents hovering have issues with, including:

Possess very few coping skills

Children raised by hovering parents don’t learn to solve problems or make adjustments. Parents step in to save the child from consequences and decision making. The parents choose to take on all the anxiety instead of allowing the child to learn from the experiences. The child does not learn to say no and stand up for himself because a parent has always done that for him.

Have not experienced life skills

Basic life skills like taking care of your own clothing, choosing what kind of food you want to try, deciding what you might be interested as a career are predetermined and spoon fed to the child.

A parent should at least once in the early life of a child allow them to choose what clothes they want to wear to school and experience the consequences. It may start a whole new fad or the child may decide for a different option next time.

Self reliance

A child who can look at a problem, come up with several solutions and have the confidence to make a selection and decision and follow through, probably was not parented by helicopter parents. Most of the decisions are made for the child even if the parents discuss it with them, are not theirs’ to make.

Sense of adventure

Stepping out into the unknown and enjoying surprises is a big part of having an enjoyable and adventurous life. Helicopter parenting deters this, as the parent needs to know all the details, clear it with everyone involved and make certain all the ducks are in a row. They forget that some of the best moment in life are when the ducks are strewn about.

Limited social skills

Many times parents may do all the conversing for the child or have them practice and stick to a scripted version. When the child is suddenly introduced into a new situation they may not have the skill-set needed to adapt.

An interesting study says that this particular style of parenting leads to neurosis. Certainly that is not the case with every child, but it is something to consider.

In conclusion, it seems like the answer to many questions about parenting comes down to balance. The child must learn to make mistakes. The parents must learn to let go. Parenting is a tough job, and most rewarding.