Helicopter Parenting

Posted by on Sep 15, 2015 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Helicopter Parenting

(As seen in Anton News Publications Sept 9 – 15, 2015)

Helicopter parents can be identified by their tendency to hover close to their child and is a natural outcome of our increasingly competitive society. Ready to come to the rescue at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment, these parents are over-involved in the lives of their children. They make important decisions for them, solve their problems for them and intervene in their conflicts with other children.


helicopter02When children aren’t given the space to struggle through their own issues, they aren’t being given the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills or the coping skills needed to deal with failure. Failure and challenges teach kids new skills and, more importantly, teaches kids that they can handle failure and challenges. If they don’t have the opportunity to become confident in their own abilities, if they don’t learn how to pick themselves up again, they may develop a fear of failure and of disappointing others. This can affect their self-esteem, cause anxiety and lead to depression.


Ironically, studies have shown that this extra attention seems to benefit parents more than their children. Helicopter parents had reported living happier and more meaningful lives than their more hands­off counterparts. Researchers concluded that parents of college-aged children may want to maintain the kinds of connection they had with their kids when they were younger. They concluded that this may feed an illusion that the parents aren’t aging, and keep these adults from having to carve out new roles for their own post parenting lives. In addition, there are studies that report some parents are especially needy emotionally and that they look to their children to supply the closeness that may be missing from their marriages or their own social life.


Professors at Brigham Young University performed a study that questioned whether or not helicopter parenting may behelicopter03 beneficial under certain conditions. Their research evaluated whether parental warmth mitigated the negative effects of hyper-attentive and controlling behavior where ‘warmth’ is a measure of a parent’s availability to talk to and spend time with their child. These professors concluded that parental warmth may reduce but cannot neutralize the consequences of helicopter parenting. They further concluded that a lack of parental warmth intensifies negative effects including lower sense of self-worth and increased likelihood of engaging in risky behavior.


Other studies on helicopter parenting found that the children of helicopter parents are less engaged in school, are less satisfied with life, are more likely to use anxiety medications and reported significantly higher rates of depression. Hyper-parented kids were also found to exercise less and were more likely to be bullied. These findings suggest that loving parents cannot justify their helicoptering tendencies; too much control is just that–too much. The researchers suggested that parents not overcompensate by removing themselves completely from their children’s lives, young adults still need parental support, but also they may deserve more autonomy.


Parenting is more than just a series of judgments parents make. It’s more than just deciding when bedtime should be or how much sugar to allow in your child ‘s diet. Those decisions are naturally important and necessary, but above all, the point of parenting should be to raise a child who is capable of taking on adult tasks. It is always better to empower children with the tools to make good choices for themselves rather than having them remain dependent on parents to sort out their problems for them. We need to be both mindful of who our child is now and what type of adult we are trying to raise. In practical terms, this means letting our child struggle, allowing them to be disappointed, and when failure occurs, helping them to work through it. It means letting your children do tasks that they are physically and mentally capable of doing.


  1. Excellent article. Struggling with this with my husbands ex. She strives to be the cool parent but overcompensates, reacts out of anger, and is a total control freak

    • Thanks

      I’m sorry to hear that. Try not to let it affect your relationship with your husband. Some exes simply have a difficult time letting go. They also often worry too much about how other people will perceive them. They feel that their ex can expose their negative qualities which sometimes makes them resentful. If you’d ever like to discuss further please let me know.

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