Are You a Helicopter Parent?
I've seen several headlines lately related to the ill effects of being a helicopter parent. Slate wrote a compelling piece about how "kids of helicopter parents are sputtering out," and Redbook has an article in its recent issue about the downsides of being a helicopter parent.
This summer has meant summer camps, more free time and more friend time for my son. He's almost 6. I don't consider myself a helicopter parent, but sometimes I find it really hard to not warn him to look before you leap, jump away from the pool wall, be careful. It's my motherly instinct to take care of my cub, and I think of it as teaching him safety smarts. Helicopter parenting is defined as "overparenting." To me that means doing it for them and not giving them some room to learn lessons and grow on their own, which includes failure, resilience and making friends.
By not allowing our kids to do things on their own, they have a hard time finding their way when they leave the nest. They don't know how to cope, how to navigate life because someone has done it for them. I think back a couple generations and know for sure it wasn't happening for my grandparents or parents. They made their own way, and they made it much earlier in life. Seems to have worked out pretty well for Baby Boomers.
Reality is, each child is his or her own person. All I can do is try to instill a sense of confidence by supporting my child, both when he succeeds and fails. But preventing him from failing or not letting him try on his own is likely to hurt him more in the long run. He may not do it the way I want all the time, so I have to prepare myself for that too and accept he's his own person, just like I was. I'm certain I didn't do everything the way my parents thought I would, but they love and support me just the same. And the ultimate goal is for my cub to grow up and be an independent, confident individual. Happiness will follow.
I found this online quiz that asks "are a helicopter parent?" For what it's worth, I co-pilot with my kids and have my feet on "terra firma." What's your take? Do you hover or let them roam?