Have you ever been called a “helicopter parent”? It’s a type of parenting that is not well received by many school administrators or other parents. Additionally, while it may be annoying for other adults, it’s also not good for your child’s development. While most parents have moments where they hover, it’s good to know when to back off and let your kid handle things.
What is a Helicopter Parent?
Have you ever watched a helicopter fly or land? They have the unique ability, much like a hummingbird, to hover over one spot. Helicopter parents hover over their children. They don’t let kids make mistakes, decisions, or handle challenges and adversity on their own. Sure, it’s tempting to step in and help your child with their homework. And wouldn’t you just love to choose your child’s friends? Yes, you want your child to make the right choices regarding their schooling, hobbies and interests, and their future. However, helicopter parents take it to the next level and actually make decisions and take steps for their child. For example, a helicopter parent will fill out a child’s college application for them, choose their major and more.
How Do You Know if You’re a Helicopter Parent?
When your child comes to you for assistance, do you tell them what to do or do you listen and ask questions? When a child has enough information, they’re generally capable of making a decision that’s right for them. If you always tell them what they should do, they won’t learn this important skill.
Do you step in and rescue them or let them make mistakes? Your child has left their important homework assignment at home. You’re at work, you’re busy. Do you run home and grab their assignment for them and deliver it to school, or let them deal with the consequences? If you’re a helicopter parent, you’re probably driving home to get that assignment right now.
Do you let them fend for themselves when they’re able to? Your child calls from school. They don’t feel well but they’re not with the school nurse. Their symptoms aren’t serious. They want to come home. What do you say? Do you tell them to try and tough it out or go to the nurse, or do you drive over and pick them up?
Why We Hover
Parents tend to become hoverers based on two strong, yet negative, emotions. You fear your child will make the wrong decision and worry about mistakes and regrets. Or you feel guilty and try to compensate by making their life as easy as it can be. The role of a parent is to raise their child to be a healthy, well-adjusted and fully capable adult. That means letting them make mistakes, accept consequences, and decide for themselves what the best course of action might be. Children who grow up without being able to make decisions, problem solve, and make mistakes for themselves lack confidence. They have difficulty doing things for themselves as adults and often make poor decisions simply because they never learned how. If you sense yourself hovering, take a step back. Let your children make mistakes and learn about consequences. Teach them to be strong and confident adults.