Helicopter Parenting Your Kids Now Might Make Them Depressed Later

Mom Moment 7

helicopter parentingIt's easy to judge helicopter parents. Especially now that there's actual research confirming such overinvolved, overprotective childrearing does more harm than good: A recent study showed that college kids of helicopter parents are more likely to feel incompetent and be depressed than kids of non-helicopter parents. And even if your kid is still in preschool, this is something you want to think about -- because as easy as it is to judge helicopter parents, it's even easier to become a helicopter parent.

According to study author and psychologist Holly Schiffrin, "when parents are overinvolved with their kids' lives, they're undermining their sense of competence, both by sending a message that says, I think you can't do it yourself, and robbing them of the opportunity to practice those skills." They also felt like they weren't in charge of their own lives.

"It was really not feeling autonomous and not feeling competent that were associated with depression and lower life satisfaction," said Schiffrin.

"Most of the time when parents are doing these things, they think they are being helpful to their child. But college students are adults and they need to be learning how to be adults, which means solving heir own problems. If we don't give them the opportunity to do that, we really are taking something away from them."

As parents, it's hard to resist the urge to fix every little thing that goes wrong for our kids. We want to shield them from all the pain and suffering of life -- we want to make it all better. But when we go out of our way to protect our kids from life, we end up with kids who don't know how to, well, live.

The road to helicopter parenting is paved with good intentions ...

Do you think you can be a helicopter parent sometimes without meaning to be?

Image via the_stir/Flickr

in the news, toddler development, toddler health


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Cassandra Huber

Nope, I am protective of my son, but in a healthy manner....he is a very advanced and super independent 13 month old thanks to us giving him limited freedom to explore and discover and learn things as he goes witout hinderance. I do not feel the need to keep my son in a bubble, never good for any child, unless they plan to live with mommy and daddy when they are 30 and have mommy do everything for them.

TugBo... TugBoatMama

My folks are helicopters and I'm friggin' 30 years old. My mother's constant reminders that I wasn't smart enough or able enough to handle myself has affected me in these ways. She has a way of making me second guess myself every time. If I tell her something good that is happening in my life, or about upcoming plans I'm excited about, she will take it and make up the worst possible scenario in her head. I tell her I have been training for my first 5k run, and she only says I shouldn't be running out there because I will get raped and murdered. If I tell her the hubs and I are going out to the casino for a night (which is once in a blue moon), she tells me about how I need to stay away from the slot machines because I will just let them take all my money and I will develop a gambling problem.
If she wants to take the kids for a few hours, she tries to tell me what I should be doing with my free time, because she doesn't want me doing anything "questionable" because I'm a mom. A lot of the stuff she tries to shield me from is just "DUH any idiot knows this" type of stuff. She's always telling me she "can't let me" do this or that.
And no we do not live with her.

bella... bellacazzate

My aunt is a severe, textbook style helicopter parent. When her son went off to college (living there per the encouragement of my uncle... my aunt begged him to commute to a local university), he never really returned. He told my brother and me that it was the most liberating feeling to finally be away from his mother. Despite loving her, he needed the distance desperately. She had restricted his friends, told him the activities he enjoyed, controlled his interests. It was terrible. 

There's a gorge between wanting the best for your child and keeping him safe from actual threat and compulsive controlling under the guise of protection. 

nonmember avatar AntiHelecopter

I am not a helecopter mom. I saw what it did to someone I know. She is 52 years old and still lives at home with her parents and has no desire to ever leave. She has never been on her own or had a significant other or any of her own friends. It's sad and I will not do that to my own kids.

nonmember avatar Justintime

I really struggle with this. I've started to physically put my hands behind my back so my kid will do things by herself without me interfering. I have to let her do things the way she wants. Especially when it comes to drawing/colouring. I'd do it all myself if it were up to me. And I have to let her interact with kids her own age without me being the constant referee. I'm trying but it's proving to be a challenge.

corri... corrinacs

On the one hand I kind of have to be.  He's got so many allergies, many of them life-threatening that I have to take notice of whta's around him.  But once we are in a place I know is safe......it's all on him!

the4m... the4mutts

I am only a hellicopter parent when situational safety is an issue, like at a county fair, or ultra crowded event. Other than that, I keep my eye on my kids, stay close enough to help if they need it, and let them have fun.

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