Stop the Helicopter Parents!

As I watch our daughter and son-in-law raise their two children, I know that the tiny tots are in good hands. Mom and Dad don’t go into a tissy when one of them falls down and gets a bruise. Mom and Dad are not afraid to speak sternly when they go astray and Mom and Dad are ever conscious about teaching them manners. 

Gracie and Noah are certainly not perfect ( even though their grandparents think so) and will likely have their bad side moments as they get older, but I am proud to say that Mom and Dad are not going to end up as helicopter parents hovering over their children, trying desperately to protect them from harm or worse yet trying to be their best buddy. 

There is a growing body of evidence coming forth that those children raised by the helicopter parents are entering young adulthood with serious issues of depression, anxiety, sadness and a sense of being lost in the world. Therapists are increasingly coming to the conclusion that these disorders are related to parents who not only did everything for their kids when they grew up, but also protected them from even the most mundane threats to their health and safety.

There is evidence everywhere about what drives the helicopter parents – minor injuries are blown out of proportion, mediocre grades become a major intellectual crisis, failure to start on a soccer or baseball team are huge disappointments.

The national symbol of the helicopter parent is the insistence that their kid get some kind of trophy or ribbon, even if the child did nothing to deserve the recognition.  Hovering Mom and Dad become insistent that their child be made to feel better to boost their self-esteem.

The helicopter parents are even afraid to end the hovering once their child gets to college as they call incessantly, complain to professors over grades and never give their son or daughter a chance to be on their own and grow up.

All of this smothering and parental intervention has created a generation of young adults who simply can’t cope with life and have been so protected that when they enter the sometimes cruel world they fall apart or lose their way.

The lesson to be learned here is that nurturing a child does require parental monitoring, but not parental smothering and regular insistence that their child be treated in a special manner.

What parents need to realize is that they are preparing their child for life, with all its bumps and obstacles and that leaving them to fend for themselves and experience disappointment is not a bad thing, it is just part of growing up in the real world.

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