We have all heard the terms ‘helicopter parent’ haven’t we? The term is defined as a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children. Well, let’s discuss the pros and cons of being such an involved parent. Is it wrong? Is it right? That is something you have to decide, but we should discuss both sides of the arguments. Reasons that parents give are often fear of failure, environment, weakness and peer pressure.
Fear of Failure.
It is my experience that as parents, we don’t want to see our kids fail at anything. We don’t want to see them not making the team, or get bad grades, or in any way look or feel inferior to their peers. It crushes us anytime our kid feels worse, especially when we could easily fix it for them and save them the anguish of failure.
Fear of Environment.
Often time, the news and events surrounding our children often make us anxious about the world they are growing up in. Shootings in schools, bullying, and even our economy can give us the reasons we need to justify over protecting our kids. Crime rates rising all over the country and more stories of missing kids or abused kids hitting the news often times cause so much stress in the adults, that we forget to allow our kids to experience life.
Fear of Weakness.
This is quite different from failure because this speaks directly to a parents overcompensation for their own experiences. A parent who grew up in a specific environment will try to give their own kids a better life than they had. A parent in a broken home may try to be better than the other parent or compensate for the lack of the other parents’ participation in the child’s life.
Fear of Other Peer pressure.
We often get unsolicited advice from parents and none better than that advice from adults with no kids, which allows other people to dictate how we choose to parent. Peer pressure never goes away, it just changes subjects. There is no crime in bragging, but at the same time, pride cometh before a fall. (biblical reference my parents often spoke of) We should be building up each other rather than broadcasting their shortcomings.
How can you love a child, protect a child or even be there for a child too much, you might be asking? Let’s discuss these negative impacts.
- Self-Confidence. By doing everything for our kids, we give them the idea that they are not able to do for themselves, therefore it decreases their self-confidence. They will often tell themselves that they can not do something, even if we find it is a rather simple task. This does not prepare them for self-reliance. They will not feel like they can be trusted with these tasks and will doubt their own ability to change anything.
- Lack of life skills. Do your boys know how to keep a clean home? Do you girls know basic maintenance for their home and vehicles? In today’s society gender roles are often disputed and spit upon, but in reality, our kids just might find themselves in a situation where they don’t depend on a partner. If everything is done for them, they will not learn these skills that they will need once they are out of the nest.
- A sense of entitlement. Doing everything for your children, fixing their every mistake, giving everyone trophies so no one feels left out and fighting your kids’ battles will give them a false sense of security. They will believe that they should be compensated for every effort. This is a tough pill to swallow parents, and we are doing this to our next generation.
What can we do now?
*deep breath* Let them feel.
It sounds so simple, and yet the task is often too unbearable for a parent to undertake. Let your kids know that it is okay to cry, it is okay to be mad, its okay to be disappointed, and honestly, it is okay to feel any emotion. We have to teach our kids what emotions are positive for their lives, and which ones are negative. We have to teach our kids that it is okay to feel an emotion, but it is not okay to dwell on it, pouting, wanting everyone else to change themselves to make them feel better. It is really difficult to put this into words with as much passion as they are coming through my brain with, but feelings aren’t bad. It only turns into a bad situation, when our kids expect the world to change without having to feel any discomfort themselves.
So, let them fall, let them fail and let them feel. I would love to know your feelings about this topic in the comments below.