I first heard the term Helicopter Parent when I was reading a book called, Parenting With Love And Logic, by Foster Cline and Jim Fay, they really had an amazing impact on me in my professional development, and as a parent.
If you can picture a helicopter, it has rotors up on top, and that allows it to hover. It seems to just kind of sit in the air. Helicopter parents hover over their children’s every move. They hover to make sure they (fill in the blank).
It is a natural tendency to want to hover, so don’t beat yourself up over that, it is natural.
But, are helicopter parents bad parents? No. But there are some very specific consequences to that hovering.
When you hover over your children, you are sending the message, “I don't really trust you to be able to handle this.” You may see yourself as trying to be helpful, but what are they learning? Can you actually imagine yourself telling your child. “You are not capable of this.” No. Allow them to make a few mistakes.
Another message is, "Don't worry, I'll do the thinking for you. Let me figure it all out and just hand it to you."
Economically, just think about how that's going to impact your child. Because kids are constantly trying to figure out, "Okay, what's going to be the easiest thing for me to do here? Should I worry about this? Or, should I let mom worry about this? They will go with, "Let mom worry about it," every time. If you are hovering, you are sending the message that you are willing to do their job.
Another message that we've kind of gotten in a habit as a community, as a culture is the idea, "I don't want you to fail. Failure is bad." I think when we hover we are preventing them from failing. The message that failure is bad is not a really great message for us to raise our children believing, because they are going to learn so much from their mistakes. The better message is, everyone fails, what are you going to do now?
What messages do we want to send our kids?
The most powerful message that we can send our child is, "You are capable of doing this." We want them to know that we believe in them and that they are capable. Not only that we believe in them but we want them to learn that they can believe in themselves.
When mistakes occur, let them figure out how they are going to fix it and only step in when they ask for help. Let them know that you believe they can handle the situation.
In realizing that my own work is one of the principles of my happiness, I can tell my child that they are going to realize happiness as they think and work hard at something. That will bring them joy, going through the struggle. And it helps them to link up cause and effect too, another good reason to stop the hovering.
The bottom line here, you are not a bad parent if you are a helicopter parent. It's a natural thing for most parents. We just want to send a message of confidence in our children.
Dr. Paul is an author, speaker, personal coach and positivity expert with 20+ years experience as a Professional Psychologist.
His book Pathological Positivity and its pocket-sized companion Portable Positivity illuminate powerful principles that when applied can make an immediate difference in your life.
Dr. Paul's channel Live On Purpose TV, available on YouTube, has a parenting playlist with a wide variety of subjects to help parents create positivity in their parenting.