It's easy to judge helicopter parents. Especially now that there's actual research confirming such overinvolved, overprotective childrearing does more harm than good: A recent study showed that college kids of helicopter parents are more likely to feel incompetent and be depressed
than kids of non-helicopter parents. And even if your kid is still in
preschool, this is something you want to think about -- because as easy
as it is to judge helicopter parents, it's even easier to become a helicopter parent.
According to study author and psychologist Holly Schiffrin,
"when parents are overinvolved with their kids' lives, they're
undermining their sense of competence, both by sending a message that
says, I think you can't do it yourself, and robbing them of the opportunity to practice those skills." They also felt like they weren't in charge of their own lives.
"It was really not feeling autonomous and not feeling competent that were associated with depression and lower life satisfaction," said Schiffrin.
"Most of the time when parents are doing these things, they think
they are being helpful to their child. But college students are adults
and they need to be learning how to be adults, which means solving heir
own problems. If we don't give them the opportunity to do that, we
really are taking something away from them."
As parents, it's hard to resist the urge to fix every little thing
that goes wrong for our kids. We want to shield them from all the pain
and suffering of life -- we want to make it all better. But when we go
out of our way to protect our kids from life, we end up with kids who don't know how to, well, live.
The road to helicopter parenting is paved with good intentions ...
Do you think you can be a helicopter parent sometimes without meaning to be?
No. I don't think I do or did. Both of my kids have depression though which I'm convinced is a nature thing not a nurture thing. What I did was create a strong framework of rules and within those they had a lot of freedom. I wanted them to be responsible as soon as they were able and make thier own choices. If anything I did as a parent was wrong it was likely wanting them to be more responsible before they were ready.
The only time I intervene with my kids is if its dangerous. Otherwise, I let them do their own thing. I give them the tools that they need to figure it out on their own. I will help if they ask but I let them fail if necessary.