Oh no! Am I a helicopter parent?
Helicopter parenting is getting a lot of bad press lately. After data began showing the negative effects of helicopter parenting among college students, it seemed everyone had something to say about the over-involvement of parents in their children's lives. Over the past few months, we've gone from criticizing a mom who let her young children walk alone to and from a park in their neighborhood to blaming overbearing parents for developmental issues in their young adult children.
But then, the children who walked to the park are fine. College students of helicopter parents seem to be increasingly depressed and overwhelmed. This revelation had me reevaluating my own parenting style. My children have described me as an "overprotective" mother. Does overprotective equate to helicopter parenting?
As any mother worrying about the effect she is having on her children will do, I went to the Internet to find out if I was, indeed, a helicopter parent.
I took an online quiz. It revealed that I have my feet on "terra firma" and that I "co-pilot" with my kids. The "congratulations" message had me convinced that these are good traits.
I reviewed 20 Signs You're a Helicopter Parent. I was able to say no to 19 of the 20. I laughed at more than 10 of the signs. That's a good sign, right?
While I might be overprotective, I should have known it's not the same thing. While I did protest the middle school showing a rated-R movie in history class, resulting in my children having to do research and a two-page paper in the library while everyone else watched Saving Private Ryan, these signs clearly suggest I was never a helicopter parent:
- Other than open houses and the occasional field trip, I did not spend a lot of time at my children's elementary schools.
- My kids, no matter how much they complained or begged, always had to do their own school projects.
- My youngest, at the age of 16, spent four weeks on his own at film camp in New York City and I was able to let him.
- My middle child, while in college, thanked me for not calling every day something his roommate endured from his mom for four years.
Not that helicopter parenting is all that bad. There can be benefits according to some resources. Even Psychology Today has good things to say about this parenting style.
Rather than get caught up with the pros and cons of a particular style, it is probably best for parents use a combination of what comes natural, what meets the needs of their children and what fits their belief system. And for every parent and child it will be a little different. But as long as everyone is coming at the challenge of parenting with good intentions, I'm sure the kids will turn out just fine.