Helicopter Parenting: The Detrimental Effects


Photo by Terence Burke on Unsplash

Some of my friends tell me about how their parents are constantly tracking their phones, monitoring their grades, and never letting them go out. Generally, this phenomenon is referred to as ‘helicopter parenting.’ To me, this seems overbearing and suffocating. We need to remind parents that in order for teenagers to discover their individuality, we must fail and make mistakes. Understanding consequences is essential for young adults, as many of us will be heading off to college in no time. 

According to a study carried out by the University of Mary Washington, “Helicopter parenting behaviors may also interfere with feeling a sense of competence because such parental actions can convey the message that parents do not have faith in their child’s abilities. Furthermore, when parents solve problems for their children, then children may not develop the confidence and competence to solve their own problems.” The study examined volunteer student’s well-being against their parents’ levels of control. Students who had over-controlling parents experienced much higher levels of depression and anxiety and were less self-satisfied. 

So how can we combat our parents in a respectful way that paves a path for growth? Here are a few strategies that may prove useful:

  1. Ask for space — this is a good first step to providing your parents with boundaries you would like them to respect. 
  2. Explain to them that in order for you to succeed, you will have to learn to manage failure instead of being coddled. 
  3. Tell them that the best way to support you is to let you explore your own world on your own terms, and that only you can find your own self-fulfillment. 
  4. Genuinely listen to their concerns and explain why you believe you are capable of taking care of the issue
  5. Ask them to accept both your weaknesses and strengths — using specific examples will help build your case. 
  6. Tell them you appreciate everything they have done for you! All of their concerns come from a place of love, and they just want the best for you, and sometimes don’t realize they got carried away.
  7. Both you and your parents need to know the difference between psychological needs for autonomy and competence. This means knowing the difference between being negligent and overbearing, and when serious parent involvement is needed to create a successful environment for a student.