Helicopter Parents

Are you the type of parent who hovers over their children and want to know everything they do (or not do)?

Are you confused how to be involved with your children without inundating them?

This article is focussed on finding out what a helicopter-parent is and also why parents adopt this type of parenting.

What is Helicopter-Parenting?

Helicopter parenting is most often applied to parents of high school or college going children, although this can be applied to any age to some extent. These are the Parents who do tasks for their children when they are totally capable of doing it themselves.

Let’s look at some examples for you to understand this term exactly. Your child is struggling with revision, you make him a time table schedule, you manage an exercise routine for him, you are constantly asking him to do something with plenty of instructions and then see them done through, you are shadowing your child as soon as he comes home from school and directing his behaviour all the time, finding out with desperation each and every friend they have and then asking them about your child in their absence, etc.

This is a never ending list as a lot of the things we do which we think are in their best interests are actually hindering their development and stopping them from getting more confident. If you allow him zero alone time, there is something wrong with your parenting. Reality check time!

Where did this term come from?

This term was first used by Dr Haim Ginott’s 1969 book Parents & Teenagers. The teenagers described their parents who hovered over them all the time. In 2011, this term was officially entered in the dictionary based on its popularity. It was since then overly used when describing parents who were over controlling, overprotecting and over perfecting their children, in summary basically ‘Over Parenting’ them!

Why do we hover over them?

From my personal experience and career in various educational settings, I have come across parents who have personally emailed me a seating plan that they think will be best for their children, last year a mum was seen secretly recording her daughter and her friends behaviour during the home time and one that always cracks me up was a parent digging through the trash in the classroom with an intention to read any notes that other classmates have written for her daughter.

So, what triggers over parenting? Are you consciously doing it or you don’t even know when your loving concern self-has turned you into a helicopter parent.

From my personal experience and having spoken to a lot of parents who think are helicopter parents, I have summarised these common triggers.

An overly negative thinking

If you are a natural worrier and you have a fear of dire consequences, you are more likely to exhibit over parenting. For example, a low grade in your child’s exam or test will make you think that your child is not going to excel in his life and you must immediately take control and do something about it. A lot of times we do feel that our involvement will help our children overcome this consequence or help them succeed in life and if we don’t do it, who else will. In reality, this may not be the case. They may just improve at a later stage in their life, they may just overcome their hurdles, and they could just be slow learners. A huge number of possibilities, yet your over-involvement and a pessimistic approach might just hamper their growth in so many different ways. These setbacks are actually great life lesson for them.  Although at the time, these setbacks may look life –threatening, in reality, they are their teachers.

Supposedly remedial actions

In the olden days, there were a huge number of families that were too busy making their ends meet that they did not really pay much attention to their children. They thought they did a good job, but in reality, they scarred their children unintentionally with negative thinking and low self-esteem. When these children themselves become parents, they want to provide for their children all that they missed. They want to smother them with all the love they can, which is absolutely fine to do, something that every parent must do. As a result, excessive attention leads into excessive monitoring and then eventually into over parenting.

Peer Pressure

‘The grass always looks greener on the other side’, I also love a more recent version of this. ‘The grass looks greener on the other side is because they take better care of it’. Peer pressure is one of the most important reasons why parents get into over parenting. When they see other parents getting involved overly in their children’s businesses, guilt takes over and we tend to think we are doing something wrong or we are bad parents as we are not as immersed in what they are doing.

This day and age

helicopter parenting

Ok, let’s all admit, times are sad, there is so much going on around the world. Not just around the world but in our neighbourhood too. Morals have gone down the drain and we hear about so much more crimes than we used to a few years back. We all want to protect our children and make sure they are not harmed. The job market is sore too, we want our children to compete and bag that job before anyone else does. This feeling of uncertainty drives the parents to take control so they are not hurt or disappointed in their lives.

A lot of research in this field have indicated that over parenting does not necessarily result in happier kids or more successful kids. We definitely belong to a generation of loving, caring and concerned parents, but unfortunately, we need to learn where to draw the line. It is a tricky line that we need to find, to be engaged with our children more effectively with their lives. We don’t want our parenting to backfire. After all, what we want for them is ‘Success’.

Watch this space for more relating to this topic.


About The Author


A Science Teacher in a Mainstream School in the U.K | MCA | B.Sc (Physics) | PGCE (QTS) |A Writer and Blogger

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