While the term “helicopter parenting” may be fairly new, the parental behavior that it describes is as old as time itself. Curious to find out more about what the trend means and the implications it can have for a family? Then read on…
What is helicopter parenting?
The term is used to describe parenting that could be considered to be cloying, overbearing, or too intense. It usually applies to parents who obsess about their children’s pursuits but can also be used to describe parents who are overly concerned about their child’s safety.
Why do people become helicopter parents?
As mentioned, there are two elements of helicopter parenting: educational and safety. Educational helicopter parenting is largely the product of an incredibly competitive schooling environment, where parents are told that every decision their child makes will influence their child’s success in the future.
Safety-related helicopter parenting is more complex. Social media a24-hourour news cycles have meant that parents are hyper aware of the dangers their children may be exposed to in the modern world. Despite the fact that crime rates are consistently falling, it doesn’t feel as if this is the case due to higher levels of reporting. As a result, parents’ natural protective instinct over their children goes into overdrive.
It’s worth noting that few people choose to be helicopter parents; it just happens and given the above, this is more than understandable.
What are the signs of a helicopter parent?
- You worry about your children’s academic abilities and future career prospects.
- You seek to ensure your child excels academically beyond what would be considered standard. For example, hiring private tutors or encouraging your children to seek extra credit or homework.
- You struggle to deal with concerns about your children’s safety when they are out of your sight.
- You restrict your child from being involved in activities as you fear for their safety.
If the above sound familiar, don’t give yourself a hard time. Helicopter parents are a product of modern society; you’re just doing the best you can given the times you live in.
Is helicopter parenting bad?
The signs suggest that educational helicopter parenting is indeed concerning. Studies have linked helicopter parenting to anxiety and depression in children. However, this predominantly applies to helicopter parenting regarding educational attainment; for safety helicopter parenting, there’s no clear evidence.
However, safety helicopter parenting may be concerning for you. Excessive worrying can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. It’s worth examining your thought patterns to see if this may apply. Do you worry about other aspects of your life, and are those worries disproportionate to the true risk? Perhaps you walk down the street, fretting about an accident that results in injury and the necessity of a lawyer representing you in a lawsuit, or worry about how you would cope if you lost your savings overnight, and plan how you’d be able to continue to provide for your kids in such an eventuality.
These are disproportional concerns about mundane situations, and they — and similar thoughts — could be indicative of an underlying issue with anxiety. If this sounds familiar to you, it may be worth speaking to a doctor for further assistance.
Should I stop being a helicopter parent?
Ideally, yes. While it is natural to want to protect, nurture, and help your children succeed, it may ultimately be better for your family if you step back. And remember: don’t give yourself a hard time about previous helicopter parenting. It’s entirely natural, and you were just doing the best you could, so be kind to yourself as you seek to make the relevant changes.