I had not heard the term “helicopter parent” until a few years ago, when a friend commented that I was beginning to behave like one! Common sense told me all I needed to understand about that term, but upon further reading, I learned this approach to parenting does no favors for your child and can cause anxiety and even stunt cognitive development.
Very well.com has this definition: “Helicopter parents are parents who pay extremely close attention to their kids’ activities and schoolwork in an effort to not only protect them from pain and disappointment, but to help them succeed.” So, HP’s are basically overprotective, and will do all in their power to prevent their child from discomfort of any sort, and secure achievement at any cost.
Now, every caring parent wants their child to succeed, to be happy, and to be a blessing to the world, but sometimes, things occur that might push us over the edge from producing a fine member of society, to creating a person who feels suffocated and apathetic.
This overprotection can easily happen when we have experienced the death of a child—or even a spouse. When someone we love dies, worry, anxiety, and invasive tactics can become easy habits. I am over two years on this grief journey, and am guilty—I admit it! I have two sons that I track too much on a phone app. Sometimes, I insert my opinion a little too aggressively to my 23 year old, and I’m sure it goes in one ear and out the other. I have even quietly prayed certain outings would fall through for my 13 year old, because of fear for his life!
What kind of existence is this? A stressful, pointless waste of energy kind of life, that’s what kind! Shielding our loved ones from consequences, or nagging and micromanaging their every decision, can only harm—preventing them from growth and decision making skills they need to develop. It simply isn’t healthy for the relationship or the child at all.
So how can we break free from this lousy behavior?
Back off slowly—coach from time to time on that science project, or the room cleaning project and try to avoid standing over them at every turn. Occasional coaching or advice may be warranted, whether it’s for something as small as chores, or as monumental as buying a car.
It will be hard, I know!
And the most important, helpful, affirming action I can do?
Have faith in the One who holds their lives in His hands!
I dedicate a lot of time in prayer, reminding myself that they don’t belong to me in the first place—I’ve been given the privilege of parenthood by our Creator, and regardless of the outcome, I trust He is working it all together for good.
Again, I know how tough it is, especially when I look back over the years and wonder what I could have done differently, or where I might have failed as a parent, and how the outcome may have been different—if my 24 year old son may have been spared. But do not allow the enemy that space in your brain—we do the best we can with what we have, and there is absolutely NO good to be gained from retroactive guilt, nor from the act of “helicopter” parenting.