You’ve likely heard of “helicopter parenting”, a term used to describe the tendency of modern parents to hover over their children, crossing the line from being supportive and responsible into the territory of being imposing.
“Imposing on my own child?” you might ask. Yes, if you’re a helicopter parent. Research suggests that heavy-handed parental involvement as adolescents emerge into adulthood has a negative impact on their development. Parents with a high level of participation in their teens’ lives and decisions usually have good intentions, but are inadvertently stifling their child’s level of life satisfaction, their physical health, their self-efficacy, and whether they can handle adverse situations.
Some college campuses caution parents of enrolled students to resist the urge to jump in and fix every little thing that you think your child should fix. The reasons for the negative impacts this type of parenting has on kids are exactly what you’d think. As outlined by Harvard Medical School, by not letting kids make mistakes, they miss out on the learning opportunities that follow. Further, ‘hovering’ over your child can induce anxiety, and by doing everything for them, you are sending a message to your children that they can’t do it on their own.
Correcting this behavior is a matter of practice. Particularly as your child matures and develops through adolescence, rethink the consequences each time you want to jump in and save the day. If your child is away at college, or headed there soon, try to hold off on calling multiple times each day. (An Indiana University article refers to the cell phone as the virtual umbilical cord.)
Again, if you’re helicopter parenting, you most likely have good intentions, so give yourself a pat on the back for caring and devoting much of your life to your child. But rethink whether you are doing them any favors if you never allow your child to struggle, to make their own decisions, or to problem-solve.
Ohio State University offers research-based tips for parents about raising children.