Dr. Rich Patterson

Helicopter Parents’ Concerns

Helicopter parents are parents who are very protective or have an obsessive interest in their child’s life.  As a retired high school administrator I could recognize these parents quickly when I asked the child a question.  Right away the parent would answer very quickly for them before they could say anything.  If I were able to stop the parent from doing that and say something like, “Let the child speak and answer the question.”  The child was hesitant, afraid to speak their own mind because they knew it may not be in alignment with what the parent would say.  Several college officials, USA Today, CBS News and many other sources say that this over-attention to the child actually hurts them, not helps them.

How so?  Kids who are raised by helicopter parents are actually lacking in resilience.  Resilience is a very important trait that allow people who are knocked down in life to rise up again and again.  The Search Institute (www.search-institute.org) speaks to resilience over and over in their research of now thousands of kids.  Helicopter kids struggle in school and often have parents that say don’t do this and don’t do that.  My intention with this writing today is not to put down helicopter parents but to help them find more information and to be more aware of allowing their kids to make choices.

When kids learn to keep their emotions under control they are less likely to have emotional problems in the future.  I encourage you as a parent to allow your kids to handle their emotional challenges themselves with little to no advice or “checking” from the parent.  This is not to say you don’t take an interest, but simple allow them to make choices and then to also experience the result of those choices.  Unless the choice involves a great risk, help them understand their choices and to process them after they have played out.

I encourage you to read more about helicopter parenting and increase your awareness on this often overused parenting technique.

Yours for better kids,