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I Got It, Mom!
Dr. Haim Ginott coined this term in the late 1960's, and although it was in reference to parents who micromanage their teenage children, it has been applied to the college-aged semi-dependent young adults. Helicopter parents often feel they are being "good parents" by overdoing it. In actuality they are causing their children to miss out on teachable moments by intervening when it isn't even necessary. You may have had a parent like this, or you may know some insufferable adult who is the result of this terrible disorder. You may be somewhat guilty of certain behaviors indicative of smothering the maturity right out of a child or young adult. Here are some helpful tips.
Signs of a Helicopter Parent
Here are some signs to look out for:
- You expect an unreasonable amount of perfection from your child. You may even take the responsibility off of your child to make sure things are "done right" instead of giving them room to grow.
- You take personal responsibility for the negative outcomes of your child's endeavors. Children fail sometimes and it's good for them. You don't want them to grow into an adult jellyfish, unable to accept rejection and unwilling to try again when things don't go their way.
- You overcompensate for life's imperfections. Maybe you had a premature baby and you feed the child (who is no longer underweight) whatever they want because they almost died 15 years ago. Maybe you are divorced and you spoil the child rotten with materialistic goods and they have no social skills and thus, no friends.
These are just a few points. You can read about more signs here.
How to Cope
Let's face facts: it hard to shift gears when children grow. You may see them as a tiny, helpless infant in your head, but they are not anymore, and as society gradually puts the responsibility on the growing teen for his or her actions, so should you. You as a parent are doing your child a disservice by not trusting in the training you have provided and allowing trial and error to happen. The truth is, children make mistakes, and the failures are just as important as the successes. If you don't position your child to overcome, they will grow up and become a constant avoider of adversity, and whoever is closest to them in life will be inadvertently placed in authority over the outcomes of their life. There may be helicopter parents, but there usually is no helicopter husband or wife. Don't set your son or daughter up for the kill; learn to gradually let go knowing you have equipped your child and it is now up to them.