Are You a Helicopter Parent?

Today we’re privileged to have a guest post by Anna Scates of The 7 Year Adventure – A Positive Spin on Parenting.

We are all guilty of it at some point in our kids’ lives. It just comes naturally, and we can’t help it. Parents wind up driving their kids crazy by being a wee bit overbearing. The more common term for it is “Helicopter Parenting.”

Learning to let go can be a painful, slow process in a parent’s life. You have to make yourself do it, especially when they go off to college.

helicopter1I found myself “helicoptering” once when my oldest child, Jacquelyn, was in her freshman year of college. I learned that she had overslept and missed one of her classes. Well, I just could not let that happen again, so I did what any good, long distance parent would do. I called her the next morning in time for her to get up for class.

Big Mistake. Here’s why.

  • She was in college and old enough to get up on her own.
  • If she did not get up, she was old enough to deal with the consequences.

Understandably, she got angry with me for calling. Really, Mom! I don’t need anyone reminding me to get up!

Yep. I got the message, and I learned my lesson. Back off, Mom! She can handle this.

Parenting Anna Scates

I learned the hard way not to let one mistake define how I was going to treat her from that point forward. Besides, her grades were always very good. She did not deserve my scrutiny. (She ended up graduating Summa Cum Laude from engineering school. I should have just chilled.)

Perhaps you think your child does deserve the scrutiny of “helicoptering.” Perhaps your teenagers are still at home and sometimes exhibiting irresponsible behavior. We have to make it clear to our teens that it is vital for us to trust them, and the only way we do that is to give them opportunities to be trusted. Small at first, then larger as they prove they can handle more.

Think of a dog on a short leash. Maybe this is a bad analogy, but I am going with it anyway. On the short leash, the dog has extremely limited freedom to move and run and explore. He can get easily frustrated and try harder to pull away. But, the more leash you give him, up to a point, the more chance he has to learn how to walk on the leash properly, at a good distance from you, without pulling to get away. He is still tethered, but still safe, and he feels as though he has some freedom of movement.

Certainly once your teen is in college, shouldn’t you give her the chance to at least prove that she is able to handle some of the freedoms that come with being away at college? At this point, you do your college student more harm than good by being so hyper involved in her life.

landing-stage-sea-holiday-vacationWe hear all manner of horror stories about how college kids party and do things that don’t exactly make their parents proud. But if we give them a chance to be responsible at home first, then maybe they will exercise that responsibility later when we aren’t around to police their every move. Maybe responsibility is a learned behavior.

You’re probably thinking, “But you don’t know my kid!” Well you’re right. I don’t. But I do know from my own personal experience that eventually you will have to let go and step away. I know you are going to miss them. I know it is hard to let go, but it needs to happen. Your teen will be on the way to becoming a better adult, and so will you.

If you found this post helpful, or if you have an experience you want to share, then scroll down and leave a comment in the section below.

Also, drop by The 7 Year Adventure – A Positive Spin on Parenting Teens if you want to see a few more articles on tips, tricks, and the joys parenting teens.

Thanks, and Happy Parenting!

Anna Scates


This is solid information from a wonderful blogger, Anna Scates. I encourage you to visit her website! If you are want to connect with me, Kate Pieper, LMFT – I can be reached at 530-268-3558 or email me at kate@katepieperlmft.

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