Finally, a legitimate reason to be creeped out by helicopter parents: they’re damaging their children
There are too many parenting techniques to count these days, but one of the most prominent (and most disparaged) is helicopter parenting.
According to a story in The Daily Mail, scientists at the National University of Singapore tested 253 kids with intrusive parents and determined that Mom and Dad’s constant hovering is driving up their anxiety.
So-called helicopter parents are being urged to ‘pull back’ and help children solve problems for themselves, after a study found their ‘intrusiveness’ makes youngsters self-critical, anxious and depressed.
One mom wrote about the study in Babble, and outed herself as the type of parent who does her kids’ homework and researches his book reports. Less out of a need for control, she writes, than a fear that he’ll screw up.
The idea of helicopter parenting has always seemed like a fairly obvious fail to me. When you’re so involved in your kids’ lives that your essentially living it for them, removing their responsibility from their failures and their successes, you’re not raising healthy people. You’re raising people who will be forever dependent on others, and will be sorely ill-equipped to handle any of life’s obstacles when you’re no longer around. These kids are so crippled by the fear of making mistakes that they’re practically unable to function without someone’s constant guidance and assistance.
Some parents are so committed to helicoptering that they move near their kid’s college, and continue playing a large role in their schoolwork, and beyond, at exactly the point in their lives where they should be learning to be self-sufficient. According to this study, they’re not only being robbed of their ability to live independent lives, they’re also being burdened with additional stress. The study showed that “60 percent were found to be increasingly self-critical, while 78 percent showed signs of ‘socially-prescribed’ perfectionism, described as a rejection of personal flaws based on the expectations of society.”
Everyone wants their kids to succeed, but success isn’t solely based on getting a passing grade. It’s about learning from your mistakes, and coping with failure, and discovering what works for you. Controlling your kids’ lives to make sure they don’t make a misstep isn’t teaching them to succeed, it’s teaching them they can’t possibly succeed on their own. These kids aren’t learning anything except what it’s like to constantly have someone looking over your shoulder while simultaneously breaking every fall. There’s a difference between offering parental support and always stepping in to save the day.
Instead of training their kids to succeed, these parents are damning them to a lifetime of unhealthy expectations, expectations which can’t possibly be met when Mommy or Daddy isn’t there to enter the right answers for them.