The term "helicopter parents" refers to parents who are too involved in their children's lives (particularly during the college years because parents may have a hard time letting go of their kids). Helicopter parents hover closely over their children in order to intervene during problematic times, stressful situations, etc. What helicopter parents may not realize is that their parental intervening can be detrimental to their children's growth and maturity. If a parent steps in every time his student needs a problem solved or makes a mistake, how is that student ever going to learn to be a functional adult in society? The following will help you determine whether or not you are a helicopter parent and give you tips on how to be a helpful parent without being overly involved.
Are You a Helicopter Parent?
If you answer yes to one or more of the following questions, then you may be a hovering parent.
- Do you call your child every day?
- Are you in constant contact with administrators at your child's school?
- Have you ever researched or written a college paper for your child?
- Do you frequently intervene if your student has had problems with his roommate?
- Do you act as your child's secretary? (i.e. make doctor appointments for him, give him morning wake-up calls, etc.)
- Have you ever tried to settle grading disputes for your child more than once?
- Have you ever chosen classes for your student to take?
- Do you feel bad about yourself if your child makes a mistake?
Turn Hovering into Helpful
As a parent of a college student, it's crucial for you to remain supportive but still foster an environment where your child will learn how to become an independent adult. Here's how you can be a helpful parent without hovering.
- Refrain from calling every day. Instead, let your child call you. Or come to an agreement on how often and when communication should take place with your child. On average, this should be no more than three times a week and during times when your child isn't busy with schoolwork and other activities.
- Listen more than you talk. If your child calls you with a problem he is having at school, such as a roommate or grade dispute, just listen to what he has to say. Even if he asks you to step in and take over, refrain from doing so because that will not help him in the long run. He needs to learn how to solve problems on his own. So, instead of intervening, ask him what he thinks he should do to improve the situation.
- Turn in your two weeks' notice. Don't be your child's secretary. Let him schedule his own appointments, run his own errands, research his own college papers, etc. Unless you intend to cater to him throughout adulthood, it's crucial that you let him learn how to be self-sufficient now.
Whether the actions of helicopter parents stem from old habits, anxiety from empty nest syndrome, etc., it is important to understand that hovering is not beneficial for anyone involved. If you are a helicopter parent, be sure to take the proper steps to overcome it. Your child will thank you later on.