The Issue With Helicopter Parenting

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The Issue With Helicopter Parenting

Photo Courtesy of shebudgets.com/

Photo Courtesy of shebudgets.com/

Photo Courtesy of shebudgets.com/

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You know those parents at Disneyland that have their kids on a leash? You would think that we would have moved past that by now as teenagers, but we really haven’t. Instead of the cute monkey stuffed-toy strapped to our backs we have a:

Helicopter Parent (n.) : The bane of your existence as well as any teacher you’ve ever had. Literally hovers over you 24/7. Tracks you on “Find My Friends.” Obsesses ceaselessly over getting into college and your grades.

Usage: My mom just had a three-hour-long meeting with my teacher today because she is concerned with my 99% in English. God, what a helicopter parent!

Helicopter parents all have good intentions; they think they are doing the best they can for their kids. In reality, they are setting their kids up for failure and, in the process, ruining their relationship with their “darling” children.

I’m not saying parents shouldn’t care about their children at all, they should just be less obsessive. It’s important to give your children some breathing room; otherwise, they will never develop their own life skills. Doing everything for your kids takes away the chance for them to experience all of the milestones in their life they should go through. If you don’t let your kid take public transportation or even go to sleepovers, how are they ever going to be able to move out or get around when they leave home?

Former Stanford dean Julie Lythcott-Haims explained this when she contributed to an article about helicopter parenting on The Washington Post: “We want so badly to help them by shepherding them from milestone to milestone and by shielding them from failure and pain. But overhelping causes harm.”

Keeping your kids in your own nest might give you some peace of mind in the short-run, but will hurt both you and your kids in the long-run. An extremely sheltered kid would have absolutely no clue how to take an Uber into the city or have the social skills to create a network for themselves in college if their parents did everything for them their entire life.

Parents would also be causing more suffering for themselves as they would be constantly worried about what their children were doing. If they had never let their kids do anything alone in their life, how would they suddenly stop meddling and stop being anxious about them? There’s no way they could continue to micromanage every aspect of their children’s lives when they lived thousands of miles away. Right?

But now, even that is possible. With new technological “advancements” like Find My Friends, parents can abuse location services to track their children’s movements down to the inch from across the country. This essentially allows them to watch a little dot move around on their screens and make frantic calls to their kids (that are now adults) when they miss an exit or move out of their “two-mile radius” to ask where they’re going.

Breathing down a child’s back is not okay. Even though it could be for safety reasons, tracking them is not the best way to go about it. Instead, teach your kids to make smart decisions and give them the space to make some mistakes along the way so they can learn. Telling them that they are always being watched is, first and foremost, a little creepy. It strips away the little privacy they have and makes it seem like they live in the plot of a dystopian novel where the “Big Brother” is constantly there to scare them into submission. Even the Constitution itself gives us all a right to privacy, so the least parents could do is trust the Founding Fathers.     

Parenting is not a test that a person can pass by getting your child a 2400 on their SAT or a post you can make or Facebook after every (and I mean every) time they get a college decision back. Parenting is about teaching them the skills that will make them capable enough of leading an adult life. Forcing your children to do Speech and Debate and soccer and robotics AND community service may pack a great resumé, but it only looks good on paper. They may get into college, but it’s only what they do after they enter college that matters in their life. If parents make all of their decisions for their kids, how will they ever develop a sense of individuality and a personality? When will they explore their world and find their passions?

So parents – monitor your kids and teach them life skills, but don’t hover. I know it might be painful, but it’s time to unbuckle that leash and let your kids roam free, outside their two-mile radius.

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