Do you find yourself doing your child’s homework and do you have all your kid's teachers saved to your phone? Does your adult child call you before making a major life decision? If you said yes to any or all of these, you may be a helicopter parent.
Some parents cringe when they hear that phrase or may even use the label themselves, but according to experts, it can be a name for parents who are doing something “developmentally inappropriate.”
For parents who lack boundaries, a helicopter parent is not just someone who cares for and loves their children. Associate psychology professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia Holly H. Schiffrin states that a helicopter parent has the potential to rob children of important lessons.
“If children aren’t allowed to experience the natural consequences of their actions when it’s relatively low stakes,” Schiffrin states, “ then it’s hard for them to learn those lessons.”
So what counts as a 'natural consequence'? According to Schiffrin, this occurs when a child forgets to take their lunch or do their homework for school. These consequences allow the child to realize these mistakes and not to repeat them. It’s all about a child experiencing low stakes consequences, rather than at a high stake level where consequences are much more lethal.
According to a study between YouGov.com and Huffington Post, it can be difficult to assign the label. The study revealed that although only 24 percent of people under 33 think they have a helicopter parent, while only 15 percent of parents of adult children agreed.
A culture of helicopter parenting and its results are starting to appear. Certain companies have started “Bring Your Parents To Work Day,” and tales about parents hitching alongside their adult children for interviews are becoming less rare.
Although the studies into helicopter parenting are generally new, it has been found that it occurs at all income levels, ethnicities and genders. As a result, there are rising numbers of severe psychological problems in children and young adults that cause a range of problems from high anxiety to even suicide.
According to an online 2013 survey, college students of parents who lack certain boundaries are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Former dean of freshman at Stanford University Julie Lythcott-Haims has stated that as the years went by, she experienced students who were academically accomplished but lacked skills in taking care of themselves.
For parents who worry about getting their child into Ivy league schools like Harvard and Stanford, Lythcott-Haims suggests rethinking about what is a “good” college.
So next time you’re stressing about getting your child in a good school or worrying if your twenty-four-year-old is eating enough, it may be time to land that helicopter and relax. Not only will it be good for you now, it will also be beneficial to your child in the future.