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Good or bad parenting: Helicopter parenting

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Stop the propellers

Helicopter parenting occurs when parents constantly interfere and interact in their children's lives. They are always there -- hovering like a helicopter -- micromanaging and over-analyzing every little detail of the kids' lives.

Helicopter mom helping teen daughter with homework

Obviously babies need helicopter parenting for safety and security. However, too much helicopter parenting as children grow up is not a good thing. The desire to be a helicopter parent is impulsive. We all want to make sure that are children are safe and happy. However, if we shelter our kids, take on their challenges and make their decisions, we take away their opportunities to learn, develop and grow.

Read about parenting styles for a new generation >>

Kids need to fail

Children need to make poor decisions, learn from natural consequences and sometimes they just need to fail. Making mistakes will allow them to develop logical responsibilities and help them to make the right decisions in the future. Over-parenting deprives kids of their independence and the self-worth that is created from making your own choices.

Encourage success without helicopter parenting

From sports to academics, you can encourage your children to succeed without taking over every last detail of their lives. It's important to stay involved with your child while allowing him/her to grow into a mature adult. Staying up all night doing your son's school project or moving your daughter to a new class if she has difficulty with a teacher does nothing to help their future. You might be solidifying your friendship with your child. However, your primary role is to parent and guide your kids, not befriend them.

Long-term effects

The one positive aspect of helicopter parenting is that parents always know what's happening in their children's lives. However, the negatives can be many. Helicopter parenting leads to children becoming dependent on your advice, your time and your money. They may become so dependent that you'll still be helicopter parenting well into their college years and beyond. Additionally, many children will begin to rebel against their helicopter parents as they get older. You can avoid being a helicopter parent by:

  • Letting your children face their own problems.
  • Stop trying to save them in every situation.
  • Talking your kids through their dilemmas and help find solutions (rather than solving everything yourself).
  • Encouraging them to try new things -- even when they are fearful.
  • Allowing them to face possible failure and experience valuable lessons.

Take the quiz: Are you a helicopter parent? >>

Helicopter parents are far too involved in every aspect of their children's lives. By smothering kids, you leave them very little space to develop their own problem-solving skills and self-esteem. If you are a helicopter parent, make a conscious effort to back off a little bit to allow your child to grow.

Life vs. fiction

Night Road


Speaking of helicopter parenting, check out our fabulous book pick, Night Road by Kristin Hannah, a great fiction read that raises questions about motherhood, helicopter parenting and tells the unforgettable story about one family and the pain of loss and power of forgiveness. Head to our new SheKnows Book Lounge now.

More about helicopter parenting

How not to be a helicopter parent
The problem with helicopter parenting

To hover or not to hover

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