Is helicopter parenting really that big of a deal? Surely not. After all, these parents only want the very best for their child. Really, they do. And they will go to great lengths to insure that their child gets the very best.
No problem, right? Wrong. Problems. Big problems. Research is showing that these kids are and will continue to suffer. All the way through adulthood. For parents who only want the best, maybe the “best” isn’t good enough. Maybe it’s just plain bad…
The following 7 outcomes are what research points out as effects of helicopter parenting.
(1) These kids never develop intrinsic motivation.
Why should they? Mom is going to make sure that the work gets done. “I’ll take care of that for you, honey.” Intrinsic motivation is simply a willingness to accomplish something that does not involve an external reward. So if Mom or Dad will take care of it, the child never learns the feeling of accomplishing things for himself. In the adult world, employers may hire someone who lacks intrinsic motivation, but if getting the job done comes up lacking, the job won’t last long.
(2) These kids believe that failures and mistakes are shameful.
If parents are constantly “fixing” the mistakes of their child, it send the message that what the child did is not good enough. By correcting their work, a message becomes clear to them: Mistakes made by kids are embarrassing to the parent. Is this really what you want your child to believe?
So what if your child doesn’t make the highest grade on a project? At 30 will she remember the grade she made or will she remember being allowed to do something completely on her own and the feeling of accomplishment when the project is done? Personally, I don’t remember a single grade from grade school or high school. But I do remember turning in projects that I was proud to have made.
(3) These kids lack confidence.
As you can probably see, the issue of a lack of confidence certainly rides on the coattails of the second issue. If their mistakes are shameful, and they are always corrected by parents who do not want to be embarrassed, then confidence is quickly squashed. Like a bug. Gone. And once that confidence is gone, it is next to impossible to regain it.
If not even your parents think you are capable, then who else possibly will? Parents truly believe they are helping, but they are sending the message that the outcome is what is important, not the learning process. And certainly not if the product does not meet the parent’s ideal standards.
(4) These kids are more anxious.
“Children from affluent families are three times more likely to suffer depression and anxiety than the average teenager,” (“THE PARENT TRAP; an,” 2006). Take a student who cannot seem to please mom and/or dad with his work, his confidence disappears, so his level of anxiety goes up. This is a serious problem. A Johns Hopkins University study shows that “hyperparenting was more closely related to increased anxiety in children than the mental health of the parent or parental rejection. In turn, elevated anxiety (in children and adults) is linked to depression and behavioral issues.” (Cortes, 2014)
Is this the reality you want for your child? Anxiety and depression that follow through to adulthood? Behavioral issues? The helicopter parents are right now saying “Not my child.” Yes. Your child. Alcohol abuse, drug use/abuse, excessive risk taking. These are some of the behavioral issues that might possibly develop.
(5) These kids have a greater sense of entitlement.
Well, why wouldn’t they? They have had a helicopter parent who has done everything for them for their whole lives. So they expect it. “Mom, bring me a glass of water.” “Mom, I left my practice pants at home, bring them to me.” “Coach, my son needs more playing time.” “Teacher, my daughter’s grades need to be higher.”
When you look at it under those sentiments, it is not a far leap to get to “Boss, I should make more money.” “Why shouldn’t I get whatever I want? I always have.” These kids have not had to solve problems on their own. They haven’t been given the tools to prove their own abilities, so they don’t know what those abilities are and most are unwilling to try. It is just easier to expect everything to be handed to them.
(6) These kids grow up to doubt themselves.
When that sense of entitlement is blown back in their face in a shock of reality, they begin to believe that may Mom and Dad may have been right. Maybe they aren’t capable of things. That’s why mom and dad always did everything for them. So it that is the truth, then they have no reason to believe in themselves as capable adults.
(7) These kids grow up to be chronic complainers.
When things go wrong, it isn’t their fault. It can’t be. It never has been before, so someone else made the mistake. This brings about complaints about other people. Also, as adults, they are expected to do things for themselves, about which they complain. There is never enough. There is always something wrong. There has to be, because everything is no longer being taken care of by someone else.
So, you’ve seen the negatives. What is there besides helicopter parenting?
For one, the role of parents is to work themselves out of a job. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. You want your kids to grow up to be independent thinkers who are capable of getting themselves up, dressed, off to work, do their job, and return home again without relying on anyone else.
Parents should be the support system, not the entire system. Think of it like what happens with birds. (Just maybe not as quickly.) After baby birds hatch, they are fully cared for until they are capable of finding their own way. As soon as their feathers have grown in, they are pushed from the nest. Fly or fail. They are allowed back in the nest for only a short time before they are sent off to be birdie parents of their own. Have you ever seen an old bird move back home? Nope.
But those little chicks of helicopter parents…well, those are the ones most likely not to succeed. And to come back home to roost.
Cortes, I. (2014, September). Tiger Moms, Get off Your Hovering Helicopters: While Parents May Have the Best of Intentions, Their Frantic Efforts to Shepherd Their Children to Happiness and Success Are Making Kids Anxious and Depressed. USA TODAY,143(2832), 26. Retrieved from Questia School.
Helicopter Mothers; They Hover over Their Children, Refuse to Let Them Grow Up and Risk Raising a Generation of Losers, Warn Experts. (2005, November 7). Daily Mail (London). Retrieved from Questia School.
Helicopter Parents ‘Can Harm Children’ (2015, September 5). Daily Mail (London). Retrieved from Questia School.
Kormanik, B. (2004, February 27). MOM, DAD, ARE YOU A ‘HELICOPTER PARENT?’; Homework-Helping Parents Who Hover over Children Can Smother Them, Teacher Says. The Florida Times Union. Retrieved from Questia School.
THE PARENT TRAP; an American Psychologist Has Whipped Up a Storm of Controversy by Identifying a Generation of Horrific ‘Helicopter Parents’ who Hover over Their Child’s Every Move. Helen Kirwan-Taylor (Left) Explains Why She Knew That the Backseat Approach Was Best All Along-. (2006, September 8). The Evening Standard (London, England). Retrieved from Questia School.
Pushy Parent Syndrome; Children Suffer Stress and Depression as Middleclass Mothers Demand Success. (2006, August 7). Daily Mail (London). Retrieved from Questia School.