You may have heard the term ‘helicopter parenting’ at some point or the other in your life as a parent. Primarily an American coinage, it refers to the model of parenting where parents hover around their child like a helicopter, tending to their every need and requirement. However, as is very natural, this kind of parenting often goes overboard, in which parents end up interfering and sometimes destabilizing the lives of their children. This leads to mental issues from the perspective of the parents as well as the children involved.
Let’s look at this problem from two sides of the coin. From the point of the parents’ view, helicopter parenting is all about protecting and insulating the children from every negative aspect of life. But is that really possible? Can any parent actually do that? The answer is a thumping NO! Life throws many challenges and unexpected situations that the child cannot share or deal with the help of parents. As a parent, you need to understand that.
It is true that during the formative years of the child, especially from their birth to the toddler stage, the child is entirely dependent on the parents. This gives a heightened role to the parents. But they need to understand when the time is ripe for them to back off. They need to realize that when the child grows up to their adolescent stage, they are no longer relying on the parents to take every small decision about their lives. Due to peer pressure and the need to assert their own personality, children will deviate from the diktat laid out by parents. That should not hurt or depress the parents.
Similarly, the issue is quite challenging from the perspective of the children. They are likely to develop symptoms ‘social anxiety’ where they are unable to deal with the society and group of people around them on an individual basis. This is because they are used to having their helicopter parents guide them on every little thing! Another problem could be the development of ‘general performance anxiety’ where children find it tough to do anything properly because they are wary that whatever they do, it might not be good enough for their helicopter parents.
As parents, if you find you are a helicopter parent but cannot back off, or the parent of a child who’s getting increasingly depressed due to your mode of parenting, you need professional psychological help.