Photo by Paige Christensen
Though I have never been called a helicopter parent, I am, as my friends like to remind me often, an “involved parent.” I prefer to know where my kids are, what they’re doing, who they’re with and what they’re up to at pretty much any given moment. I don’t see this as a bad thing, but many people have been talking about the effects of helicopter parents on the kids of today, so I did a little digging to see if I could come up with a reasonable definition of the term “helicopter parent” for the purpose of this article.
Wikipedia to the rescue!
A helicopter parent is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead. – Wikipedia
Just picturing a parent hovering up and down with a propeller coming out of the top of their head makes me smile, but I digress.
Helicopter parents can be seen as meddlesome, interfering, and domineering, but others can be viewed as advocates for their child with a strong sense of what their child really needs.
Helicopter parents have been highlighted in news and social media stories for years and their antics tend to become fodder for the late night show standup routines. Images of characters like Marie Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond; parents who can’t let their children grow up on their own and always at the ready to make things right and fix a problem at a moment’s notice.
A lot of the research around helicopter parenting demonstrates the negative effects of this approach as heavily outweighing the good, although some good does exist. One major benefit is an improved psychological adjustment to life for adult children with this strong support system in place versus those with less structure and support in their own life.
However, a number of individuals studied showed a lower engagement rate in their studies because they are accustomed to having decisions made for them and a strong support network to take care of problems on their behalf.
While the definition and perception of “helicopter” parenting and “involved” parenting continues to get murkier in pop and modern culture, trying to find a balance in supporting your child and yet still holding them accountable for their actions continues to be the primary challenge for most parents.
What camp do you put your parenting style in? Have you been called a helicopter parent? How do you think your actions are benefiting your child?