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Four Reasons not to be a Helicopter Parent

September 18, 2015

You’ve probably heard the stories of parents calling college presidents, yes, presidents of colleges, to complain about issues their college students are having. It can be something as petty as a roommate is leaving old takeout food on the dresser to a professor grading “unfairly,” according to the student.

I would be devastated and embarrassed if my parents had called anyone at my college, let alone the president to help with a problem I was having. But in today’s age where so many parents are trying to make their children be successful at all costs, they are unknowingly doing a disservice to their children.

In 2011, Lori Gottlieb, author and licensed marriage and family therapist, discussed the negative effects of helicopter parenting in The Atlantic Monthly. She wrote, “Paul Bohn, a psychiatrist at UCLA who came to speak at my clinic…believes many parents will do anything to avoid having their kids experience even mild discomfort, anxiety, or disappointment—‘anything less than pleasant,’ as he puts it—with the result that when, as adults, they experience the normal frustrations of life, they think something must be terribly wrong.”

Many kids today aren’t able to manage their own schoolwork, relationships or conflicts because they have grown accustomed to relying on their parents to solve everything for them. It’s important that parents see the flipside to being a helicopter parent because you can prepare your children for success in a different, much more effective way.

By not hovering over your children and jumping in at every instance of a challenge, you will help your children in these at least these four ways.

Your children will develop self-confidence.

By allowing your children the opportunity to make their own decisions and deal with those consequences, positive or negative, they will develop a sense of ownership and self-confidence about themselves and their lives. They will believe that they can do things on their own or with little guidance.

It will help your children learn from mistakes.

Not all of our decisions as adults result in positive outcomes, so why should we make our children’s? By allowing your child to fail and make mistakes, you are teaching them resilience and problem-solving skills. Just remember to let them take the lead on learning from their mistake – don’t rush to fix it (unless you want to be living with them when they are 40 and still having to help pick up the pieces to every problem they encounter).

Your children will be better prepared for their future as an independent young adult.

Without hovering, your children will be equipped to be a student and member of society without relying on your constant guidance. The self-confidence and resilience they will have learned will set them up to be more prepared for a life on their own in college and in the real world.

You will have more time to focus on sharing time with your family.

Instead of worrying about every single problem your children may experience in a day, you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on them as people. Your time can be spent reading together or playing a family board game instead of calling the teacher or the neighborhood boy’s parents after dinner.

Before you know it, your children will be on their way to a life of their own. If you want to set them up for their own success, remember that you can help by taking a step back and reducing the amount of hovering you do.