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Helicopter Parents - Hovering over Their Children

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Helicopter parents are described as parents that are constantly hovering over their children. They take control of every situation from the time their child is very young. These parents are always there to solve their child’s problems and to protect them from any harm that may come their way. Although this may seem to be helping children, it is not. This parenting style negatively effects the lives’ of children right into their adult years.

It is very easy to become a Helicopter Parent. Starting during early pregnancy, parents begin their search to create a “super child”. There are even prenatal education systems that claims to give the baby an “intellectual, social, creative and emotional” advantage. Right after birth, parents will do anything to keep their children higher than the rest. From baby videos and classical music, all the way to baby ballet and gymnastics (before they can even walk). Children are growing up in busyness and it is a very stressful lifestyle for them. They need time to develop themselves; not under a constant schedule.

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Figure 1 Parents sign babies up for gymnastics before they are able to walk

Being a helicopter parent prevents children from learning accountability. When their child gets into trouble, they are always there to bail them out. Example, a child gets in trouble at school for acting out, the helicopter parent convinces the teacher that punishment is unfair. The child then gets away with it. According to Mike Gurr, clinical director at Cooper Canyon Academy, helicopter parents deprive their children of learning natural consequences for their behavior. As the child grows into an adult, they may still believe they can behave how they want with no repercussions.

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Figure 2 Parents are hovering over children helping them through any problems they may come across

Helicopter parents create childhoods without play. Instead of play, children are involved in so many activities, but it isn’t the same. Children are put under constant supervision when they need to be able to play freely with other children. They no longer grow up being “street wise” because they do not have the freedom to roam the neighborhood with friends. Children need to learn how to negotiate their own disagreements and choose their natural leaders.

Children begin learning through their mistakes. Mistakes help them to gain problem-solving skills and confidence to overcome challenges on their own that they may face. Helicopter parents are constantly intervening as soon as the child shows signs of struggling. If their child does not understand homework, parents will do it for them. This takes away from valuable learning experiences. This appears to the child that failure is unacceptable or else you as a parent would not always take over for them. If the child becomes too afraid of failure, they may avoid taking risks completely. This could prevent them from achieving goals and developing relationships. Fear of failure also causes higher levels of anxiety and depression in older children.

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Figure 3 Helicopter parents are intervening with school related problems when the child should learn themselves

“It’s not unusual for students to be calling and checking in with mom three or four times a day. They are calling parents to make decisions about dropping a class, making a purchase, dealing with any kind of setback. Kids today are much more likely to say that their parent is their best friend, and it is good in a way that they have a close relationship, but this kind of dependency leads to a lack of confidence in being able to achieve things on their own.” (Indiana University psychologist, Chris Meno). Parents are using cell phones as a constant tracking device for their children, of all ages! Teen’s lives’ are becoming an ongoing voice recording to their parents. “I’m just leaving class and going to the cafeteria.” “Mom, can you fill out this job application?” “Dad, what should I do about my roommate?” These are all examples of how tethered young adults are to their parents.



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