What is helicopter parenting?
The term "helicopter parent" was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott's 1969 book Parents & Teenagers by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a dictionary entry in 2011. Similar terms include "lawnmower parenting," "cosseting parent," or "bulldoze parenting." Helicopter parenting refers to "a style of parents who are over focused on their children," says Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit and author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To Guide. "They typically take too much responsibility for their children's experiences and, specifically, their successes or failures," Dr. Daitch says. Ann Dunnewold, Ph. D., a licensed psychologist and author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, calls it "overparenting." "It means being involved in a child's life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way that is in excess of responsible parenting," Dr. Dunnewold explains.
Who is a helicopter parent?
Although the term is most often applied to parents of high school or college-aged students whodo tasks the child is capable of doing alone (for instance, calling a professor about poor grades, arranging a class schedule, manage exercising habits), helicopter parenting can apply at any age. "In toddlerhood, a helicopter parent might constantly shadow the child, always playing with and directing his behavior, allowing him zero alone time," Dr. Dunnewold says. In elementary school, helicopter parenting can be revealed through a parent ensuring a child has a certain teacher or coach, selecting the child's friends and activities, or providing disproportionate assistance for homework and school projects.
Why do parents hover?
Helicopter parenting can develop for a number of reasons. Here are four common triggers.
Fear of dire consequences
A low grade, not making the team, or not getting a certain job can appear disastrous to a parent, especially if it seems it could be avoided with parental involvement. But, says Deborah Gilboa, M.D., founder of AskDoctorG.com, "many of the consequences [parents] are trying to prevent--unhappiness, struggle, not excelling, working hard, no guaranteed results--are great teachers for kids and not actually life-threatening. It just feels that way."
Feelings of anxiety
Worries about the economy, the job market, and the world in general can push parents toward taking more control over their child's life in an attempt to protect them. "Worry," Dr. Daitch says, "can drive parents to take control in the belief that they can keep their child from ever being hurt or disappointed."
Adults who felt unloved, neglected, or ignored as children can overcompensate with their own children. Excessive attention and monitoring are attempts to remedy a deficiency the parents felt in their own upbringing.
Peer pressure from other parents
When parents see other overinvolved parents, it can trigger a similar response. "Sometimes when we observe other parents overparenting or being helicopter parents, it will pressure us to do the same," Dr. Daitch says. "We can easily feel that if we don't immerse ourselves in our children's lives, we are bad parents. Guilt is a large component in this dynamic."
What are the consequences of helicopter parenting?
Many helicopter parents start off with good intentions. "It is a tricky line to find, to be engaged with our children and their lives, but not so enmeshed that we lose perspective on what they need," Dr. Gilboa says. Engaged parenting has many benefits for a child, such as increasing feelings of love and acceptance, building self-confidence, and providing guidance and opportunities to grow. "The problem is that, once parenting becomes governed by fear and decisions based on what might happen, it is hard to keep in mind all the things kids learn when we are not right next to them or guiding each step," Dr. Gilboa explains. "Failure and challenges teach kids new skills, and, most important, teach kids that they can handle failure and challenges."
Decreased confidence and self-esteem. "The main problem with helicopter parenting is that it backfires," Dr. Dunnewold says. "The underlying message [the parent's] overinvolvement sends to kids, however, is 'my parent doesn't trust me to do this on my own,' [and this leads] to a lack of confidence."
Undeveloped coping skills. If the parent is always there to clean up a child's mess--or prevent the problem in the first place--how does the child ever learn to cope with loss, disappointment, or failure? Studies have found that helicopter parenting can make children feel less competent in dealing with the stresses of life on their own.
Increased anxiety. A study from the University of Mary Washington has shown that overparenting is associated with higher levels of child anxiety and depression.
Sense of entitlement. Children who have always had their social, academic, and athletic lives adjusted by their parents to best fit their needs can become accustomed to always having their way and thus they develop a sense of entitlement.
Undeveloped life skills. Parents who always tie shoes, clear plates, pack lunches, launder clothes, and monitor school progress, even after children are mentally and physically capable of doing the task, prevent their children from mastering these skill themselves.
How can you avoid being a helicopter parent?
So how can a parent love and care for their children without inhibiting their ability to learn important life skills? Dr. Gilboa offers this advice: "As parents, we have a very difficult job. We need to keep one eye on our children now--their stressors, strengths, emotions--and one eye on the adults we are trying to raise. Getting them from here to there involves some suffering, for our kids as well as for us." In practical terms, this means letting children struggle, allowing them to be disappointed, and when failure occurs, helping them to work through it. It means letting your children do tasks that they are physically and mentally capable of doing. Making your 3-year-old's bed isn't hovering. Making your 13-year-old's bed is. As Dr. Gilboa says, "Remembering to look for opportunities to take one step back from solving our child's problems will help us build the reliant, self-confident kids we need."
What's Your Parenting Style?
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Helicopter Parents Essay
Most parents take an interest in their child’s life from birth until they become an adult by picking and choosing what is best for them as much as they possibly can. Parents want to help their children to be as perfect as they can make them. Typically hovering parents spend a lot of money, time, and effort filling schedules things like with dance classes, baseball, and tutoring in order to have a ‘perfect’ child. As well as coming to their aid when they are in need, or their defense when they are in trouble. Help in making important, life changing decisions, like where to go to college at, or which career to pursue. When does helping become hovering? The generation of “Helicopter Parents” is becoming more and more prevalent in families. A helicopter parent is a guardian who is hanging over the head of their college-age son or daughter. Helicopter parents typically do whatever necessary to lead their child to success. This controversy has many suggesting it is actually making a positive impact in the next generation, some think not. I question if the next generation of young people will be able to think for themselves? If so, will the decisions they must make in life be adult decisions? Hovering parents are hurting society more than helping it because the next generation is not learning how to be responsible for their actions and make their own choices.
The next generation of young adults is not being taught the important life skills needed to thrive in today’s world. Adults who have never had to challenge themselves are not going up the ladder of success. Dr. Whelan, a sociologist who has taught at many universities, has three books, and several notable achievements wrote the article, “Helping first year students help themselves”, that is now published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. In this article she describes her experience as a professor of first year college students. She discusses the result of students not being taught how to take care of themselves. A report by a business-research group by the name of, The Conference Board, found that incoming graduates were lacking skills such as communication and decision making (Whelan 258). Employers want to hire strong, skilled leaders who can perform tasks in the correct manner. When a fresh college graduate is put into the job market, who knows if they will be able to make important company decisions, communicate effectively on the phone or in person. If an over involved parent has done these things for their son or daughter all their life, they are not going to know how to handle specific situations in which they will need a select set of skills.
Parents are losing the true focus of parenting because they are too attached. Parents should realize that if a person does not work hard, they can’t achieve great things like they want for their children. “The Fine Art of Letting Go” is an article that appeared in the news magazine, Newsweek, written by Barbara Kantrowitz and Peg Tyre....
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