No one is going to argue the fact that as a parent, your priority is to keep your child safe and protected while also being a supportive and nurturing influence. And of course, no parent wants their child to experience heartbreak, disappointment, and failure, but this is an unfortunate side to living life to its fullest.
However, when you take parenting to the hyper level of micromanaging all aspects of your child’s development, there’s a chance you’re well on your way to the dreaded label of a helicopter parent. You know the type, they have a tendency to hover and circle over top of their child at all times. And at the first hint of trouble or unease, they swoop down to the rescue.
Everyone knows a helicopter parent or two. Let’s hope the helicopter parent within your social circle isn’t you. But, even if you do see yourself after reading the points below, don’t worry. It’s never too late to make a few changes for the benefit of your children and yourself. Read on for 10 signs that you may be a helicopter parent.
10 You Won't Let Anyone Hold Your Baby
Forget asking a trusted family member or friend to babysit for an hour so you can have a much-needed break; you haven’t even relinquished your hold on your precious bundle since you got home. In fact, it’s normal to feel possessive of your new baby, but it’s important to keep these feelings in check and take steps to ensure they don’t spiral out of control.
When it comes to providing your baby with a certain level of love and care, there’s no denying the fact that nothing can replace a parent’s attention. But keep in mind that if you want to provide your baby with everything there is to offer, then it’s up to you to ensure they are given the opportunity to bond with other family and friends within their lives.
Take a lesson from a mother bird who provides their babies with food and shelter, and when the time is right, provides them with the nudging they need to fly all on their own.
9 Google Is Your Favorite Past Time
For any new first-time parent, the internet can be a God send. You can’t remember how the nurses swaddled your baby? No problem. Google an online tutorial and you’ll be swaddling like a champ in no time. Your week-old baby’s belly button stump is hanging on by a thread. Should you pull it off or leave it be. Take a quick Google gander before you bother weighing in with your doctor.
However, there’s a fine line between using Google as the helpful tool that it’s intended to be and using it obsessively in order to ensure your baby will survive the night. Checking the internet can provide you with an information overload that can easily send you into helicopter overdrive. Ask yourself this question: are your internet searches helping to allay your fears or are they exacerbating them and creating new ones?
Do you feel your internet surfing is getting out of control? Do you find yourself obsessively googling every behavior your baby is exhibiting out of worry and concern that something is wrong? Did your baby cry last night and rather than check if they needed changing or ensure they had been fed, you looked up possible reasons for infant crying?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is possible that you are suffering from postpartum OCD. This anxiety disorder is marked by uncontrollable thoughts, fears, and repetitive behaviors and can occur for up to six months following the birth of your baby. It’s important to seek help from professionals who are familiar with these behaviors. Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns.
8 At Night, You Lay Awake Chewing Your Nails
Maybe you’ve always been a worrier or maybe the worry gene hit you like a ton of bricks the moment you realized you were pregnant. Or maybe the insidious worries snuck up on you a little at a time. It’s only now that you are home with your baby that you realize how consumed you’ve become.
Whatever the case, it’s important to find a worry balance before they spin your propeller out of control. In order to protect your child and keep them safe, you do need to have some healthy worries, but at the same time, you don’t want to go overboard to the point where you lay awake at night with overwhelming and obsessive thoughts.
If you believe your worrying has slipped into a toxic territory, then it’s up to you to dial it back. Start by talking out your concerns with your partner and other trusted family and friends in your life. Sometimes, just talking your worries out into the open is enough to help diminish them and see them in a clearer perspective.
Then, do something for yourself that will help clear your head and allow your mind to focus on something else: go for a walk, work out, do an activity you enjoy. And if you still have concerns, talk to your healthcare provider.
7 You Find It Difficult to Enjoy Parenthood
Mainly a North American concept concerning millennial parents, helicopter parenting turns parenting into an all-consuming and exhausting journey. Hindsight is 20/20. Many self-proclaimed helicopter parents look back on that time as feeling unable to enjoy their children as well as their life as a parent.
Many helicopter parents end up carrying the sole weight of parenting on their shoulders, even if they don’t have to. Don’t let yourself get to the point of no return. It’s never too late to make changes in order to improve your parenting experience. Not only will you benefit, but your child will as well!
6 When Someone Asks Your Child a Question, You Answer for Them
When it comes to helicopter parenting, one of the biggest hazards is not giving your kid a chance to work things out for themselves. It begins early and it's relatively unnoticeable; rather than encouraging your baby to crawl or walk by putting a toy out of their reach, you simply provide them with anything they can possibly want so they don’t have to crawl or walk on their own. Instead of talking to your baby and pushing them to communicate, you offer them everything so they don’t have to form the words themselves.
This micromanaging behavior escalates as they grow older. If your little angel brings home a C on their homework, rather than work out the possible reasons they received the not-so-great grade, you phone the teacher to give them a piece of your mind and then re-do the work yourself to ensure your child gets the A they deserve. Eventually, you may end up with an adult who has no clue how to face difficulties head-on and problem solve for themselves.
5 You Don't Allow Your Child to Take Any Risks
As a parent, you basically discourage your child from taking any risks whatsoever. That’s not to say that you should let your toddler walk near the water’s edge on their own. There’s a big difference in keeping your child safe and allowing your child to undergo certain risks that will be learning experiences for them.
A baby about to take their first step risks falling down; a child approaching a group of unknown kids at the park to play risks being rejected and excluded; a teenager trying out for the basketball team risks not making the cut. Sure, if they fail, they’ll feel some pain, embarrassment, disappointment, hurt feelings. But if they succeed, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and exhilarating pride that only comes from challenging yourself. No matter the outcome, your child will grow and learn as an individual. Basically, it’s a win/win.
4 Your Child Is Completely Dependent on You
Obviously, newborn infants are completely dependent on their parents in order to receive all the necessities of life. But as babies grow, it’s important to allow them an appropriate level of independence so they can learn from the experience.
Children raised in a smothering environment tend to grow up being overly anxious and often suffer the effects of depression. They sometimes confess to being less satisfied with their lives in general. Oftentimes, they grow up unable to solve their own problems and either turn to others for help or put their head in the sand to avoid any uncomfortable situation. As individuals, they are usually unsure and lack confidence.
As life unfolds for your child, each positive and negative event will be a learning opportunity for them. And no matter how insignificant in your view, every learning opportunity will have a butterfly effect on your child’s future and the way they learn to cope, adapt, and adjust.
3 Doctors Roll Their Eyes At You
If you feel like your doctor is screening your calls or you sense some hostility when you visit with your child, it may be time to take a step back. Dig deep and answer the following questions: what are you seeking from your doctor? Are you looking for reassurances that your child is healthy and safe? Are you genuinely concerned about a specific situation? Are you in need of attention when it comes to the well-being of your child? Is there something going on in your life that has you particularly stressed? Has someone close to you recently suffered health problems?
It’s normal for every parent to worry about their child’s health from time to time, but if it’s always on your mind and you are finding it overwhelming, you may be suffering from health anxiety and/or hypochondria. If you have always been a worrier, then be aware that you may be prone to suffering bouts of health anxiety once you become a parent.
Finding a worry balance is important for parents, especially newly minted ones. Heading to the doctor is not necessarily the solution for dealing with all-consuming worries. In most cases, you may be able to save yourself and your baby a visit to the doctor just by simply taking a deep breath and giving the situation a day in order to “wait and see.”
2 You Rarely Say "No"
Actually, saying “no” isn’t half as important as saying the word and meaning it. When you say “no” to your child, do they smirk knowingly and still do whatever they want? If this happens routinely in your house, then whether you admit it or not, there is a chance you are a helicopter parent.
Maybe you are worried about upsetting your child and then having to deal with their unpleasantness. Whatever your reasons, it’s important not to become overly concerned with short-term goals. Instead, take a look at the bigger picture.
Setting limits for children is a necessity in any parent’s life. Children need limits and structure in order to feel safe and secure in their environment.
Hearing the word “no” is a normal part of life. The sooner your child learns to deal with “no” and its consequences, the sooner your child will adjust to life in general. Imagine how difficult your child will find life as an adult if they never learn to accept the fact that now and again, they will not always get their way.
1 Your Child is One of Your Closest Friends
Keep in mind that a relationship between parent and child is much more complicated than a simple friendship. Kids need structure, boundaries, and limits. They will often require periods of separation from their parents and this is completely natural and normal. As a parent, it's your role to advise, teach, and provide your child with appropriate consequences when they are required. You are in charge. There is no equal power within this relationship.
If your child is your BFF, it may be time to cast a larger net into your social circle. By definition a friend is a peer, and until your child reaches a certain age--probably adulthood, they are not your peer. If you're trying hard for your child to like you, how can you possibly be using the proper judgment required to raise them? The respect you give your child and the respect they, in turn, give to you is different than the level of respect you give to your friends.
That said, it doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with your kid, enjoy their company, and take part in fun activities with them. You just need to relate to them as a parent to a child while doing so--not as two peers within an equal relationship.