When the news breaks and a couple discovers that they will be parents for the first time, surely their minds are flooded with ideas and images of what that will be like and how that will change them as people.
I think all initial would-be parents first thought is ‘I’m going to be the cool parent', or ‘I’m going to be my child's best friend', and these thoughts are all with the best intentions and absolute sincerity when had, but one thing I don’t think any parent has ever said, is ‘I’m going to be a helicopter parent,’ or at least, they didn’t plan to turn out that way.
While some of you might be unfamiliar with the term ‘Helicopter Parent’, I can almost guarantee that you all know one, whether you are a parent or not. These are the moms and dads who take an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.
The ones who're constantly following their children around doting on them, ready to catch them before they even fall and holding a tissue in hand just in case their nose gets runny, eventually, maybe.
This type of parenting style has come up in conversation between my partner and I on more than a few occasions, usually after witnessing it in action, and we invariably come to the same conclusion; it's not for us.
The reason behind this is simple; we believe that it does more harm then good for your child/children as well it robs them of the opportunity to experience some of the most important fundamentals of being a kid, and that's learning things on your own. Here are a few of the reasons why I will never be a helicopter parent that you might want to consider.
8 Confidence And Self-Esteem Issues
Confidence and self-esteem are things that are developed through trial and error, by learning from your mistakes, and understanding that these don’t define who you are, but rather are simply part of the process of self-discovery.
However, if you are a helicopter parent, then chances are you are probably there giving your child the right answers and making sure that they don’t make any mistakes. I will admit; this does sound good, but what happens when you're not there to help them?
Children need to develop a belief in themselves and their abilities in order to healthily grow, as this skill will provide them with an ability to peservere when they are tested in life and don’t always have mom and dad there to give them the right answer.
7 Enhanced Likelihood Of Panic And Anxiety
Piggy backing off the last reason, I will provide you with a scenario to help better illustrate this point. We will assume that you are a helicopter parent, and have been gracious enough to provide your child with unadulterated protection and support throughout their younger, yet arguably formidable years, and now, they are faced with a problem, and you are not around to help them. How do you think this is going to make them feel?
Studies have shown a link between overprotective parents and the development of anxiety disorders in children and young adults, and it’s not a far stretch upon the mind to imagine why.
When a child goes through life without being tested or faced with a dilemma, then when it inevitably does occur, they are almost guaranteed to be met feelings of panic and anxiety and this ultimately unfamiliar situation.
6 Sense Of Entitlement
Helicopter parents have a tendency to go above and beyond for their children, but very often in ways that are not beneficial for either party involved.
While I don’t think anyone would argue with me about the importance of showing interest and supporting your children in their endeavors and passions (whatever they might happen to be), it is prudent to remember that it is a fine line between supporting and over indulging.
A great example of this is organized sports or activities. While it is a beneficial thing for your child to get involved in team events, and more importantly for you to support them, you certainly do not want to get in the habit of indulging every whim or fleeting interest that your child has (and they will have many).
This can be a great opportunity to teach your child about limits and sticking with their choices by not providing them with unlimited ones.
5 Lack Of Ambition In Your Child
Everybody knows that spoiling a child isn’t good, and to a large degree, that is, what being a helicopter is (just a more flattering way of saying it). Whether you are giving in to your child's demands or are in their principal's office trying to change their teacher, by making life easy for your child, you are robbing them of developing ambition.
Life is only easy for a very select, and more often than not; a large amount of effort is required in order to get all of the great things that we all desperately work for. However, we work towards those things because we know what it’s like not to have them, and thus have developed a work ethic, a concrete principle or belief that through effort or labor, desired results can be achieved.
It seems like pretty simple stuff, but it’s highly unlikely that had you not had to work for those things that you desired, then you would not have developed this ambition, this work ethic to better yourself.
The same rule applies for children; if you constantly provide everything for them, they won't learn how to do anything on their own, nor will they have a desire too. Like the proverb says, if you give a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.
4 Difficulties Facing Crisis And Emergencies
There is no such thing as perfect life; there will always be speed bumps and hiccups along the way of varying degrees. It’s inevitable. The key is how you handle them as they arise, and I hate to inform, but if you are constantly micro-managing your child’s or children’s lives, then you are not allowing them to develop some of the most important skills that they will need later in life.
I know it's easy; regardless of their age, all you want to is protect your child from anything and everything. And it really does feel good when you are able to do it. But the reality is that you, unfortunately, won’t always be there to protect them.
There will come a time (usually a lot sooner than you think, or would like) when you are not around when something happens either to, or around your child. That is why it is so important for them to develop the coping and processing skills so that they know how to react in times of emergency and crisis, which I am sad to report, is a steadily increasing statistic.
3 Difficulties In Growing Independent
Children only grow in one direction, and I think that the main objective of parenting is to create and raise someone who eventually can and will exist independent of you. Now, unless you have a different dictionary than I do (and I have like 6), then independence and being a helicopter parent doesn't go together.
By allowing your child to discover who they are as an individual, not being pushed or influenced in one direction or another, will help your child define his or her course in life. Think of that as life’s North Star, always there, telling you where to go. It's a very reassuring thing to have. However, if you are constantly or over involved in your child’s life, then your influence, whether intentional or not, is bound to be felt.
Try and think back to when you were a kid, and I promise that some of the best memories you have were when you were out on your own or with friends, but ultimately, without your parents. This is when children feel like they can be themselves, and that's exactly what they are trying to learn how to do.
I am by no means saying to turn a blind eye to your children, but rather let them go off a bit on their own. If there is one thing, I learned, it's that just because a child can’t see his mom or dad, doesn’t mean they don’t know exactly where they are.
2 Difficulty Learning Life Skills
No two days are ever alike (unless you are in a Bill Murray movie), and thus, it is important to develop certain tools and skills in order to handle the different events that happen to you every day.
These include coping with stress, organization and time management, problem solving, study skills and the list goes on, and every one of them is very important in order to handle the daily events that unfold in our lives.
Most of these skills begin to develop at a young age, and that is for a reason, as they are more difficult to acquire and learn the older you become. If you are a helicopter parent, then you are putting your child at a serious disadvantage later in life by performing all of these life tasks for them, and prolonging their development and the inevitability of them having to learn them themselves anyway.
1 You're You, They're Them
I know they are your children, and yes to a certain degree, it is your responsibility to care and provide and protect them. What I think often gets forgotten though, especially by first-time parents is that although your child is a little miracle, what they are not is a little clone of you.
Parents often don’t realize how strong of an impression we can have on our children, very often unwittingly, especially when they are at a younger age.
If the goal of parenting is to create a life, foster it, and watch it grow into something independent of yourself, then being a helicopter parent is like trying to win a race by taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps back every time.
But, if you allow your child the opportunity to “be a child” and make mistakes, and fall down, and cry and learn and laugh, then you will not only enjoy your time with them that much more, but you will be doing them a great service later on in life.