If you are still digesting the last post on being an empty nester, you might be interested to know there is another parenting pitfall to watch out for: Helicopter Parenting.
According to Wikipedia, Helicopter parent is the term used for parents who pay too close attention to their children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. The phrase was originally coined by Foster Cline and Jim Fay, because like helicopters, these parents hover overhead. The term grew in popularity… " in the early 2000s as the Millennial Generation began reaching college age.”
Whether your children are toddlers, school aged, teenagers, young adults in university or married – helicopter parenting or over parenting is easy to do. Here are some warning signs that you might be over parenting:
- Abandon all interests, hobbies and goals, immersing yourself in a plethora of children’s activities?
- Live outside your means to provide your children with things and opportunities you can’t afford?
- Find yourself "hovering” over your child/teen/young adult i.e. popping by or calling your child at school, summer camp, continuously arguing with their teachers re: grades or goals, phoning your child at college each morning to wake them up or often bailing them out of financial problems?
- Find yourself in the middle of your child’s marriage or relationship issues?
- Have a compulsion to text or phone your child and know where they are and what they are doing throughout the day?
For the most part, over parenting is not because parents are trying to be over controlling, rather it is based on "good intentions gone awry.” Many parents grew up feeling disconnected from their own parents and have swung too far in the other direction. They’ve becoming obsessed with their children’s lives and activities – losing themselves in the process.
A culture of fear, heightened by media reports of abductions and murders, has been aided by technology that allows us to be connected everywhere. Wikipedia also states, "The rise of the cell phone is often blamed for the explosion of helicopter parenting – University of Georgia professor Richard Mullendore called it the world’s longest umbilical cord.”
If any of these issues apply to you or someone you know, it is not too late to turn things around. Sometimes, we need to step back as parents, allow our children to fail, fall and make mistakes so they can learn how to be productive, responsible and confident people. Be loving, be connected – just don’t hover.
By: Sharon Osvald in collaboration with Winnie Visser
Principles for Real Living:
I am responsible for my own attitude
My attitude affects my actions
I can not change others, but I can influence others
My emotions do not control my actions
Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I'm a failure
Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world
Desperate Marriages by Gary Chapman, Northfield Publishing, Chicago 1998, 2008