I just learned this term recently, but I think it’s very descriptive.
A “helicopter parent,” in case you don’t know, is one who hovers constantly over a child.
These are parents who do more than watch out for the health and wellbeing of their child. They try to rescue their child from difficult situations and keep him or her from failing. In trying to be a concerned parent, they actually prevent their kid from learning valuable lessons about coping and overcoming setbacks.
My son’s school, fortunately, tries to ground helicopter parents. For instance, it won’t allow parents to bring a child’s work to school if he or she forgot it. The kid must learn, and accept, the consequences of failing to turn in work.
If you’re a helicopter parent, don’t feel so bad. You’re far from alone. But realize the harm you could unintentionally be doing to your son or daughter.
A study of college freshmen showed that children of helicopter parents were more likely to be dependent, neurotic and less open to new ideas, according to an article on msnbc.com.
Some parents think the more they more they intervene, the better their son or daughter will turn out, says the study author, Neil Montgomery, a psychologist at Keene State College in New Hampshire.
“The problem is … they went too far and, in fact, caused an expansion of childhood or adolescence,” he says.
Overprotective parents are everywhere
Helicopter parents aren’t restricted to any economic group or race, says Patricia Somers, an associate education professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who has studied overprotective parents.
Advances in electronics have made it easier for parents to stay connected with their children around the clock, she says.
“It’s just extremely easy to cross the line between being involved in a child’s life to being over-involved,” Somers says.
One of her colleagues at the University of Texas says he sees helicopter parents during the admissions process.
“More often than not, when I’m helping a family through the admissions process, I’m dealing almost exclusively with the parents,” says Michael Orr, associate admissions director. “The student either literally is absent or technically is present but silent and completely uninvolved.”
This is crazy! Parents, back off. There’s a time to hover over your child. It’s called kindergarten.
As a child moves through elementary school, middle school and high school, parents should gradually step back and let kids take more responsibility and accept more consequences.
I can’t imagine a parent, except in extreme cases, contacting a university official on behalf of a son or daughter. By the time someone enters college, he or she should realize that Mommy and Daddy won’t come to the rescue.
Some parents don’t know when to stop
In some cases, helicopter parents are still hovering over their kids after they leave college, according to an article last month on npr.org.
Michigan State University did a survey of 700 employers that intended to hire recent college graduates, says the article by Jennifer Ludden. Almost a third of the employers said parents had submitted resumes on behalf of their child. And a quarter said parents had tried to persuade them to hire their son or daughter.
I’m speechless. My son, Connor, is a fifth-grader. I won’t do his homework for him now. I can’t imagine sending out a resume on his behalf when he’s out of college.
Helicopter parents, wake up. You’re being neurotic – and you’re preventing your child from growing up properly.
Turn off the engine, and step out of the helicopter.
Being a good parent means letting your child experience failure. Failure teaches great lessons. Do you want your child to succeed in life? Then learn to back off – starting now.