So, who is a helicopter parent?
Wikipedia explains this term as “A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or simply a cosseter) is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.” And this is irrespective of the age of the child.
What is the impact on the entire parent-child relationship? Is it not correct to hover around your children? Are we over-parenting?
This kind of parenting, where emphasis is given to the need to excel in all the areas (academics, extra-curricular activities) and meeting the high expectations of successful parents, is on the rise. Insecurity, fear and competitiveness are key factors that is resulting in the rise of this kind of mindset. And to add to this, news of child kidnappings, trafficking etc on the media amplifies the insecurities of the parents.
I clearly remember how we would play all by ourselves outside while we were growing up. I never had my mother hover around me. But in the present scenario, I cannot imagine leaving my 5-year-old daughter alone in the park in broad daylight. Thanks to the media channels and amber alerts! What if she falls and hurts herself? I would rather be with her all the time or take her to play in a monitored indoor play area. Sometimes, when I am doing this, I wonder if I am helicopter parenting too. Am I becoming too concerned about her well-being? Am I being too protective? How will my daughter ever learn to protect herself and fight back in the big bad world?
But this is just the novice level of Helicopter parenting. I have friends who still check on the day to day activities and grades of their children who are studying in universities 🙂
Shouldn’t we as parents focus on nurturing problem solving skills in the children and help them become more resilient and independent? Shouldn’t we allow our children to taste the bitter failure early on and then learn to conquer their fears and take on the world as leaders.
In my opinion, although there are several success stories of Millennials, several stories of kids grabbing national headlines by winning top prizes at Spelling Bees, Science contests and other academic pursuits, parenting in this generation is driven largely by a sense of fear. Children of such parents usually lack confidence. At a young age, it is ingrained in their minds that they will always require the support of their parents to achieve success.
Being a ‘helicopter parent’ has more negative implications than positive, mainly, because such individuals produce anxious and dependent personalities.
A study conducted by the Florida State University, USA, reveals that children who enjoy “higher levels of autonomy from their parents” have “greater life satisfaction, better physical health, and more confidence in their own self-efficacy”. However, children of these so-called ‘helicopter parents’ were more likely to report “low levels of life satisfaction and self-efficacy, as well as higher levels of anxiety and depression”. Physical health was also generally worse for these young adults, according to the study.
Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of “How to Raise an Adult” says “Despite what you think, your kid is not your passion. If you are treating them as if they are, you’re placing them in the very untenable and healthy role of trying to bring fulfillment to your life.’ Find something else to do.”
“Hold your child to account. At each stage of life, check your child is on track to accomplish basic skills. If they aren’t, put in the time to train them. For example, by the age of seven, children should be able to help cook meals and make their beds. By nine, they should know simple sewing, how to take out the trash and fold and put away their clothes. By the age of 13, check that they can iron, use basic hand tools and mow the lawn.
Ask your child questions to help them work out their own solutions. Instead of constantly directing them, ask what they think they should do to solve a problem. More often than not, they will come up with a more practical, age-appropriate solution.”
This is so true. I have now started believing that parenting is a two-way journey. Both for the parent and the child involved. It needs space, dedication, mutual respect and keeping all channels of communication open. Tell them you will support them but let them bear the consequences of a mistake done by them. Let them fall but prepare to get up on their own. There is no formula, no trick to raise successful and happy children, it is only about the fine balance. As Rohinton Mistry has aptly said, “you have to use your failures as stepping stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair. In the end it’s all a question of balance.”
Featured Image Source: Pixabay
Author: Priyanka Mohanty
Motherhood has been an amazing journey so far; each day, an adventure of sorts. After a stint in marketing and marketing communications, I am currently a stay at home mom, blogger, traveller and chef. Never thought I would be happy to call myself a SAHM! Right now, my 24/7 job is being a mom. I am here to share my thoughts and experiences on parenting, life and ways we could improve our lives. When I’m not reorganizing the drawers or handling tantrums, I can be found writing about health, nutrition, beauty and wellness. Also, I am an endangered bookworm who loves nothing more than finding the perfect solution to life’s little conundrums in books and nature.