You’ve seen them. Helicopter parents. Parents that seem to do everything for their kids, hovering nearby, always ready to make the decisions. Helicopter moms and dads sound hobbling, overbearing and stifling. But is helicopter parenting actually harmful?
Psychologist Karen Fingerman led a study out of the University of Texas to test the claim that over-involved parenting ruins kids. What they found was that “grown children who received intense support reported better psychological adjustment and life satisfaction than grown children who did not receive intense support.” This support can come in the form of life skills or advice.
Helicopter parents are painted as hovering adults who are micro-managing their children’s lives. However, these adults may not be as harmful as some experts have led us to believe. Here are seven ways that studies have shown these parents are doing a good job.
1. They Know Where Their Kids Are & What They Are Doing
According to the Pew Research Center, 60% of parents regularly check their kids’ phones. Helicopter moms and dads also know where their kids are by using location services. They know who their kids are communicating with and what they looking at on their phones by checking social media accounts, texts, and emails.
QUICK TIP: Establish house rules for device use with your children. Using software like Screen Time, OurPact or Qustodio not only allows remote monitoring and limits time on devices, it fosters agency by allowing kids’ input.
2. Helicopter Parents Are Involved Academically
Moms.com points out that from room parent to PTA president, helicopter parents are the eyes and ears of most schools. Actively participating in education is more than just checking grades. It’s volunteering, chaperoning, attending meetings, reading school newsletters and participating in events with children. Being on campus offers insight into how kids interact and whether they are making healthy choices.
It’s not just the stay-at-home parents that have this access. Many schools have opportunities and events that take place outside of school days.
QUICK TIP: As kids mature, look for ways to stay involved that don’t require as much “boots on the ground” effort. This will help them build independence with the security of knowing that a parent is still involved. Don’t step in if they don’t make the team or they get a bad grade. Empower them to own the ups and downs of growing up. This is their moment to take the tools they have and use them independently.
“All that hard work and hands-on attention was for a purpose, but clearing the air space so an adolescent can grow UP into an independent young adult takes even more courage, skill, and support for their parents than did all the years of necessary circling,” writes educator Jake Weld for All Kinds of Therapy.