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Helicopter Parenting: A Damaging Trend

You’re simply being a good parent, right? You’re being involved and taking an interest in your child’s friends, education, and life, right? How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from taking an interest in to hovering…becoming a helicopter parent?

Being a helicopter (one who hovers) or a lawnmower (one who mows down all obstacles) to being a Blackhawk (crossing ethical lines) parent are new terms but appear to be showing up in the lives of more children in recent years. It’s as if the parents (maybe you?) are living vicariously through the achievements and actions of their child.

Smoothing the path and not seeing your child struggle is a natural thought process. And yes, as a parent, you need to be involved and interested in what your child does, but you need to know when you’ve gone from being involved to becoming a helicopter parent. Here are some clues to helicopter parenting styles:

Are the paths in front of your child free of obstacles? Have you done your best to make certain risks are mitigated? Does your child skate through all events smoothly with no chance of failure? Your child needs to fail and to struggle in order to be able to savor achievements and rewards for a job well done.

Your child has a cell phone and because of that do you demand a phone call every day? Do you call him or her to make certain your child is up for classes? Does he have to check in before undertaking an activity and then report the outcome following it? Let your child learn by making decisions and gaining independence.

Your child didn’t pass a test or didn’t score as well on a paper as you imagined they should have. Do you call the professor and demand an explanation? Do you think it’s the professor’s fault for not offering your child a good grade? Your child’s grades should be based on the quality of his or her own work, not your interference in the grading process.

Take joy in your child’s success and commiserate with them when they fail, but let them earn their kudos and take their lumps on their own. It’s natural to want to see your child succeed but help them do that on their own and the sweet rewards of success will be all the sweeter (and more frequent) for them.

Myra Lee is a middle school teacher. Like other teachers and administrators in her school, she earned an online degree and strongly believes in online education for working professionals.

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