As parents we all have the best intentions at heart when doing anything for our children – but that doesn’t necessarily mean we always do what’s actually best for our children.
We love our children, we care for our children, and we want the world (and then some) for our children. What we don’t realize though, is that on our missions to protect them, nurture them, and provide for them, we often end up causing some harm – unintentionally of course.
We aren’t saying you are a horrible parent who has made grave mistakes and clearly doesn’t know what’s best for their child or how to achieve it – all we are saying is that sometimes what we think is best for our child, while doing so with perfect intentions, is maybe not as good as we think it is.
Example A: Helicopter parenting.
What Is Helicopter Parenting?
Although the term was first used in 1969, by Dr. Haim Ginott, in the book Parents & Teenagers, “helicopter parent” was only inducted into the dictionary less than a decade ago, in 2011.
The term refers to a “style of parents who are over focused on their children”. Helicopter parents typically “take too much responsibility for their children’s experiences and, specifically, their successes or failures”.
Essentially, it means you are overinvolved in your child’s life – is that even possible, you ask? Well yes, actually, very much so.
Parent’s can easily become over controlling and over protective, to a point where it is no longer healthy or helpful to the child(ren).
Before trashing the concept of helicopter parenting all together, however, we have to admit that, to an extent, it is not all bad. To prove it, let’s take a look at some of the positive effects of helicopter parenting.
Can Helicopter Parenting Actually Help Your Children?
There are articles and books and podcasts (and more) that do nothing paint this style of parenting in a bad light. They claim that helicopter parenting is hazardous to children, and urge parents to steer clear of it and give their children space
However, as with anything in life, there are both pros and cons to helicopter parenting, you just have to approach the technique with care – it’s all about balance.
Here are a few of the ways in which a “helicopter parent” style technique can actually benefit your child.
Your Child Will Feel Supported
Having you close can give children a sense of security – this sense of security acts as an enabler for children to branch out and try new things without fear of failure. Essentially, your child, even as they grow into young adulthood, will view you as a sort of safety net. They will carry the feeling that you have their back and that they have someone who will always be there for them to turn to. This is both encouraging and reassuring for them.
Your Child Will Feel Seen
Not only will they feel like they have a strong support system in you, but they will also have the feeling that they are seen. It’s important that your child feels that you not only are there for them as but that you hear them, understand them, and see them for who they are.
Parents who are preoccupied with other things, such as work or even themselves, create children who feel unseen. With parenting techniques more focused on the child and the child’s needs, that child is fully aware that they are seen and are not only cared for but are cared about.
Your Child Will Be Exposed To A Larger Variety of Activites
Children, on their own, may not always seek out new or different activities on their own – they tend to gravitate towards specific hobbies, interests, or activities that they excel at. Having parents who push them to try a variety of new things, such as languages, instruments, sports, etc., helps children develop different skills and determine their interests and affinities.
Aside from determining what they excel at, children who participate in an array of activities are more likely to know failure – but this is a good thing. Not being the best at something helps children become more resilient and persistent and reduces ideas of perfectionism.
Your Child Will Be More Likely To Succeed (In & Out Of School)
Chances are that if you are a helicopter parent, you push your children to succeed. You actively help them with their homework; you dedicate time to helping them with extra curricular; you instill in them the importance of practice, time, and effort.
This technique not only benefits your child in the moment, but also gives them life skills and lessons for later on down the road.
Of Course, You Do Have To Watch Out For The Harmful Aspects Of It
The purpose of this article is to prove to parents that helicopter parenting, at least to an extent, does offer benefits to your children. However, it is important to bear in mind the negative effects it can create as well. These are the negative effects that give helicopter parenting such a bad reputation – and for good reason.
Your Child May Lack Problem Solving Skills
A child who lacks problem-solving skills turns into an adult who lacks problem-solving skills.
Learning basic problem solving at a young age not only a valuable skill but also an essential one for anyone who wishes to succeed on their own in the real world – one that is needed both in small and large scale situations on a regular basis.
Your Child May Lack Independence
Sure, you may love doing everything for your child – but take into consideration the fact that you aren’t always going to be there to do everything for them. Children need to learn how to function independently in addition to having support from the adults in their lives.
Your Child May Not Understand Natural Consequences
If you are always interfering when, or before, your child ends up in a situation where negative consequences are in order, your child will lack the fundamental understanding that sometimes their actions have consequences.
A child, who will grow into an adult, who doesn’t understand the concept of consequences, will be under the illusion that they can do or say whatever they please without fear of punishment.
You May End Up Pushing Your Child Away
You want your child to feel loved, supported, and seen – but you don’t want them to feel smothered. Children who feel overwhelmed by how much attention their parents give them, especially if said attention is controlling or over protective, will pull away to create the space and distance they desire.
How To Tell If You Are A Helicopter Parent
Do you run straight to your child every moment that they need something? Do you hover over your child anytime they are doing their homework, practicing whatever it is they take part in, or even just playing? Do you encourage (or push) your child to participate in numerous activities/events? You may be a helicopter parent.
If anyone has ever referred to you as overbearing, over-protective, or controlling, you may be a helicopter parent.
But that’s okay! We aren’t suggesting that you change your parenting style all together – in fact we believe that a high level of involvement in your children’s lives is extremely important. What we are saying is that there is a fine line between being involved, supportive, and present, and being controlling, obsessive, and over the top.
Dial It Down A Notch
As you can see, there are clear benefits to having an active role in and close relationship with your children.
While we may away from the term “helicopter parent” because this term is typically used to describe those who take the “active” role a step (or more) too far, we are not shying away from what the term encompasses. We believe that the fundamental drive behind the helicopter parenting technique is an important one – our children need us to be present, protective, and proactive in their lives.
The advice we will give (more like a warning), is just to ensure you provide your child with a healthy balance of active parenting and space.
Of course, where the line is drawn for this balance will all depend on the child – every child is different and will respond to, and need, a varying amount of support and space (even children within the same family).
Take some time to understand each of your children as individuals, and then take your good intentions and balance them with how much active and passive involvement each child needs to develop the skills, emotions, and ideas that they need to grow into happy and successful adults.