Resisting the Temptation to Be a Helicopter Parent
There are some phrases coined for certain parent personality types at colleges and universities throughout the country. One common token term is the “helicopter parent.”
The Helicopter Parent – The Persistent Hoverer
A helicopter parent is one who hovers closely over their child’s activities whether their child needs them or not. While their intentions are good, this interference can actually impede the progress of their child in school and other endeavors.
Attending college is an entry into adulthood, and this is a time when students need to start making most of their decisions themselves. Sometimes they will make the wrong decisions, but failing teaches success and is a necessary part of the life experience.
This is not to say taking an active interest in your child’s education is a bad thing. Actually, research has shown that students whose parents take an active role in their child’s education are better performing students.
So when does enough involvement become too much?
A common indication of helicopter style parenting includes statements such as, “We are planning to major in English,” meaning both you and your student. Other examples include contacting your child’s professor about their progress or communicating directly with their academic advisor without your child knowing about it.
A Perfect Balance
Finding the perfect balance between taking an active interest in your child’s education and hovering too intently over them can be a challenge, but it is essential to understand the difference if you want your child to have the best chance of success.
While this may be hard to believe, some parents continue this hovering activity even after college graduation, going so far as to interfere in their child’s professional life. Human resources departments at many businesses have become all too familiar with this behavior in recent years, even so far as parents attempting to negotiate their child’s salary.
The important element to keep in mind is that if your involvement level is such that you are making the decisions rather than the student, you may be hovering. In order to mature, your child has to deal with life circumstances that land in their path. Removing the obstacles for them is not helping them; it is preventing their development into capable and mature adults.
Keeping an active interest in your child’s education and life in general is an admirable parenting trait. Just keep things in perspective and remember that sheltering your young adult from life’s circumstances is not helping them learn to survive.
Your student’s college years are a time for them to come into their own and learn to make decisions and work through problems themselves, although they will most always seek your valuable advice occasionally and when they do, feel free to give it to them.