|Parents tend to take control their children's lives because they only want the best for them. / Photo credit by Anurak Ponapatimet via 123rf|
Parents want the very best for their children. Their deep love and care drive them to go to great lengths to be good providers and protectors. They are always on alert, ready to jump at every opportunity to make their children’s lives easier. Their hyper-involvement and obsession to create the perfect world can propel them to instinctively hover over their children like a helicopter.
Helicopter parenting is aptly described by three types of behaviors: first is the ever seeking thirst to know everything about children’s daily lives from schedules, engagements, achievements, grades, and even decision making; second is intervening in children’s friendships, romance, conflicts, and other social interactions; and third is children’s autonomy limiting, which is when they believe that their parents controlling their lives for them. In Japan, such parents are called monster parents.
Why Parents Hover
Helicopter parents are micromanagers of their children’s affairs. They overindulge them and push them to excel. They commandeer every detail of their lives to near suffocation. There are four triggers for this.
Fear of dire consequences: According to Deborah Gilboa, M.D., founder of AskDoctorG.com, parents would like to prevent outcomes that would bring their children unhappiness, troubles, pressures, rejections, and failures.
Feelings of anxiety: In an attempt to protect their financial worries and the world in general, parents take control of their children’s lives to keep them from frustration and hurt.
Overcompensation: Parents who were mistreated and ignored as children can overcompensate with their own children. They exaggeratedly attempt to resolve their own childhood issues with excessive attention and supervision.
Peer pressure from other parents: The extreme love and care they observe with parents of their children’s peers puts pressure on some parents to do the same. They may feel guilty if they do not do so and overly think they are bad parents.
The Good and the Bad of Helicopter Parenting
Helicopter parenting is a contentious issue. Psychologists and sociologists have done varied analyses and concluded that it brings forth good and bad effects for both parents and children.
Economists Matthias Doepke of Northwestern University and Fabrizio Zilibotti of Yale argue that intensive parenting style leads to better outcomes for children based on the following meta-study they made.
• 2012 PISA data (international academic test for 15-year-olds) and children-parents interaction reports showed higher scoring test results for students of more intense parents regardless of parents' educational level.
• Data from a national study conducted in 1997 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that tracked teenagers' achievements found that kids of parents with an “authoritative” style were more likely to graduate from college and get graduate degrees.
|Parents will hinder their children's life skills if they always do everything for their children. / Photo credit by Anurak Ponapatimet via 123rf|
A 2010 British study published in the European Sociological Review showed that the benefits of authoritative parenting go beyond the classroom. The children were found to be healthier and have better self-esteem. Pamela Druckerman, an opinion writer for the New York Times, says that authoritative parenting employs reasoning to convince kids to do good things beneficial for them, emphasizing adaptability, problem-solving, and independence to help them in their future workplaces.
The intentions of helicopter parenting are good, so long as parents do not lose their perspective. Engaged parenting has many benefits for children like feelings of love and acceptance, better self-confidence, and opportunities to grow.
Helicopter parenting becomes a problem when parents get transfixed on their fear and decisions on what might happen, resulting in reduced confidence and self-esteem. The underlying message received by kids is parents’ lack of trust that adversely affects their confidence level.
Children will not learn how to cope with loss, frustration, or failure if parents will always clean up their mess. Studies found that helicopter parenting makes children feel less competent in dealing with the stresses of life on their own. Another study from the University of Mary Washington shows that over-parenting is associated with higher levels of child anxiety and depression.
Children may become accustomed to a sense of entitlement and always have their way if their social, academic, and athletic lives are always adjusted by parents. If parents always do everything for their children even when they are capable, it will hinder honing life skills.
Breaking the Helicopter Habit
Raising children presents immense challenges and surprises as well as joy and connection. However, it seems that the negative effects of overparenting far outweigh its benefits. As such, parents should make adjustments in their parenting style by:
- Supporting your children’s growth and independence by listening to them, and not always pushing your desires on them.
- Not doing everything for your children. Teach them how to accomplish tasks on their own.
- Letting children decide how to handle their own problems and experience the consequences of these actions to draw life lessons.
- Raising children normally. Refrain from giving them special treatment.
- Teaching children to stand up for themselves in a respectful manner.
- Understanding and accepting weaknesses and strengths, and helping them to use their strengths to achieve their own goals.
Give your children the freedom to explore the various aspects of the self to enable them to identify and understand themselves. The key is to remain supportive, not overbearing.