A helicopter parent is one who practices an intrusive style of parenting, controlling every facet of a child’s life. Although this behavior is normal when children are very young, it becomes increasingly more detrimental as children pass into adolescence and beyond. Successful adults develop out of teenagers who learn to be independent and make good decisions for themselves — skills that the children of helicopter parents are often unable to master. Fortunately, a pattern of over-parenting behavior can be easily modified once parents understand the damage they may potentially cause.
What Makes a Helicopter Parent?
The origins of over-parenting begin with simply wanting the best for your child, but, like anything taken to excess, it can eventually become harmful to both parent and child. In the most extreme cases, parents become unable to focus on anything else, expending every ounce of attention and energy on the child while neglecting work, social interaction and their own healthy, personal relationships. And although the Internet is populated with 10-question quizzes with titles like, “Are You a Helicopter Parent?” honest self-evaluation and frank conversation with family members or mental health professionals may be the only way to truly answer this question.
How Helicopter Parents Can Harm Their Children
Although it may be hard to imagine that any parents could care too much about their children, helicopter parenting can cause lasting damage to a child’s mental and emotional health. Kids of helicopter parents are unable to learn good decision-making skills. Earning independence is an important part of growing up, but teens who are over-parented cannot develop the autonomy, assertiveness and critical thinking skills necessary to become a successful adult. Self-reliance and self-regulation are also compromised when parents govern every aspect of their adolescent or teenage child’s life.
Restoring Balance to the Parental Role
In most cases, helicopter parents are acting from a genuine concern about their child’s well-being. Although the relationship can become intrusive on an inappropriate level, it may actually be easy to correct this course, once parents become aware of the damage they may be inflicting. Simply recognizing your tendency to be too involved in your child’s life may be enough to reverse the damaging patterns. The critical first step for any parents who fear they have become too controlling is willingness to admit that over-parenting can be harmful.
At Havenwood Academy, the trained professional counseling staff is dedicated to restoring healthy familial relationships. With a focus on assisting adolescent and teenage girls and their families overcome a variety of challenges, Havenwood Academy can help young women address any profound, negative outcomes that may have developed as the result of being the child of a helicopter parent.