Dear Dr. Renaud:
I heard the term “helicopter parent” for the first time yesterday and now I am wondering if I am one of those too.
I try to protect my daughter from bad things. That’s my job, isn’t it? I don’t want any harm to come to her and this is a bad world we live in so that’s what I do.
Dear Good Mom:
Yes, your job is to protect your children from harm, but – and this is a big BUT – your job is also to teach them. Parents now make the mistake of confusing protection with education.
Your job as a parent is to teach your kids how to be independent. You are supposed to prepare them for life; not protect them from everything.
Unfortunately, well-meaning parents are smothering their kids and raising a generation of marshmallows – they look like they have substance but they melt at the slightest heat. I am seeing more and more of this in my practice and it concerns me.
Beyond “helicopter” is “cockpit parent” – that is where the parent is not just hovering over everything the child does but actually drives everything. The child has no autonomy at all and is not allowed to do anything as the parent is doing it all for them. The poor kid is just along for the ride.
For the sake of your child’s development and self-esteem, please stop hovering and smothering. You know if you are doing that.
Let them experience disappointment and failure. That is the only way they are going to develop self-confidence and resilience. I am not advocating letting them get run over by a car or anything extreme, but they do have to learn about consequences of their choices.
Experience is a good teacher and if you don’t allow them to have some unpleasant experiences they won’t learn and won’t be prepared for life.
Remember, your job as a parent is to prepare them for life.
Dr. Danielle Renaud helps parents deal with parenting and family issues. She can be reached at 778-421-1925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.