Empowering Successful Future Adults: Breaking the Trend of Helicopter Parenting

Children need attentive parents, but children also need space. They require space to make their own mistakes, learn from them, regroup, and pick themselves up to keep going. Most parents do not like to see their children fail and be devastated, yet it is an important life skill to learn. We want to raise competent, self-assured, and successful future adults, so a parent’s job becomes a tightrope walk between protection and freedom. Helicopter parenting, used to illustrate excessive hovering, comes to mind when describing parents that do not want to miss out on any elements of their children’s lives. People with this style of parenting even resorting to meddling, even with the noblest intensions. Parents who protect and shelter their children too much can prevent them from the very growth that is essential to their development.

Most parents who love their children are guilty of over-parenting in some way or another. Sometimes, parents just need to learn the appropriate times to let their baby birds fly on their own or they may never learn how to survive outside the nest. There was once a time when parents would tell their children to go outside and play on a Saturday morning and to make sure they were home for dinner. Kids roamed the neighborhood with friends on bikes and skateboards all day. There were skinned knees, dirty pants, lots of laughter, and even some tears. In the year 2017, the days of kids roaming free have been replaced with GPS on kids’ phones and warnings about stranger danger. With 24/7 access to their children in the form of cell phones, parents have an ever-tightening leash on their offspring. With Mom and Dad just a phone call away, children are rarely forced to figure out how to solve a problem on their own or cope with a difficult situation.

Today’s children are very busy, not only with school but with many great extracurricular activities. With so much going on in their lives, these kids need to learn to set their own alarm to get up each day, keep track of their own belongings, stay up to date on their school work, and meet their deadlines. Sometimes, it is so much easier and faster for a parent to just step in and help, or worse, do it for them. However, in the long run, parents are not helping their children learn to be independent and responsible. In essence, parents need to let their children learn from their mistakes, so they can do it right the next time. Another effective way to teach responsibility is to have chores at home, along with consequences for not doing them. Children need to be taught that it is okay to fail at something and that, yes, sometimes there are winners and losers in games and life doesn’t give out participation trophies. They need to understand how to learn from their supposed failures and how to move on. As any mommy or daddy can attest, being a parent is the toughest and most rewarding job in the world.

The goal of any parent is to keep children safe and teach them the skills they need to be competent, confident, and independent adults when the time comes.

A few tips to remember:

  1. Empower your children; don’t micromanage.
  2. Encourage your children to be independent.
  3. Help build emotional intelligence.
  4. Don’t do everything for your children.
  5. Do not enable your children to be helpless.

By Irene Marshall