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So what are the pros and cons of hovering parent and their helicopter children

Posted Nov 12 2012 3:30pm

Some people blame the new technologies such as the cell phone for the ever-growing number of hovering mothers and their helicopter children. Professor Mullendore from the University of Georgia sarcastically called the cell phone “the world’s longest umbilical cord”.

The term “helicopter parent” was first used back in 1969, but became a commonplace term in the early 2000’s, when the baby boom generation’s kids grew up to college age, and extreme cases of angry parent storming into lectures at college to demand explanation for the kid’s grade were reported, aside from writing their term papers, and picking the proper romantic partner for them.

This parenting trend, even though it shows an everlasting concern and love for the children can actually be of harm to the growing helicopter adolescents, who even at College don’t have the word in decision making, find it difficult and even impossible to handle everyday situations they are faced with.

The question is how protective is too protective, and when is it time to “cut the umbilical cord”?

The truth is, that it’s great to be interested and involved in your child’s academic performance and extra activity participation, but when grades become more important than learning, and you start doing your child’s homework for them, this actually stops your kid from learning.  When your child calls you from their summer camp to ask you where to find the bathrooms, instead of asking someone standing next to them, then maybe you and mostly your child has a problem.  The question you need to ask yourself is – how will your child make the best decision for themselves when faced with a problem or situation, which can place their health and safety in actual risk of making fatal decisions, or if their life is in danger, for example? Think of it that way.

Looking for and choosing a job for your 26 year old son is definitely  not something you should be doing, if you want your son to become an independent person capable of making his own choices, capable of looking after himself, and even capable of making mistakes…and learning from them!

Also, the hovering parents’ fear that something might happen to their child will eventually project itself to the child, and instead of learning how to stay safe, it might choose to simply hide from life and fear it.

There are of course some good sides of being a hovering parent.  The fact is, that helicopter Moms and Dads are doing what they are doing to actually help their child and prevent it from being hurt, or falling – figuratively and literally.  This actually means that a great parent-child relationship is created, without the parent manipulating the child for their own benefit, as the situation is in other cases of psychological control enforced by egocentric and manipulative  parents.

Studies on the matter of over-parenting, have shown that on average, people since the 1990’s started spending longer hours with their children. In general, the parents who have higher education are found to spend more time than those with lower education levels.  A possible explanation is that in poorer households, the children are left to grow up by so-called inertia – the parents provide food, clothes, etc. but the growing up part is left for the children to handle.  The college educated parents show a tendency to put much more interest in the child’s possible talents, ideas, skills.

Very often, the cause for hovering is the anxiety with which some parents try to make their child a successful person – but the great risk is that instead of success, the anxiety is passed on to the children. Their dreams of a good life are pre-programmed and planned out carefully by the parents.  Another danger for the helicopter children is that many times, when overprotective parents exaggerate their child’s talent and “gift” they actually harm their realistic views on their own talents.

An Australian research performed a couple of months ago has found that hovering parents who are constantly mentoring the progress of their children and are over parenting, tend to have more anxious and inhibited children. Anxiety tends to be transmitted unconsciously to the children from the parents, this is why instead of making the child fear something by showing your own fear, a model of being courageous should be encouraged.

In order to be able to raise a more confident person, who doesn’t fear failing and knows how to bounce back after taking the wrong step, you should try allowing your child to think, by giving them more time without extracurricular activities, also encourage your child to ask – and not only you but the people who are directly involved in the particular situation where the question has arisen.  Allowing your child to make their own choices, so that they can learn to be more independent and know how to make the right decisions later in life. Allowing your child to make mistakes and wrong steps will allow them to learn.

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