Helicopter Parenting: Are You Ruining Your Child’s Future?


We’ve all heard about helicopter parenting, right? It’s a name given to parents who hover around their child 24/7, much like a news helicopter hovers around a police chase scene. It’s like they’re constantly waiting for something to happen, ready to jump in and solve every problem their child has. Those who follow the helicopter parenting method, though, may actually be ruining their child’s future!

Are you a helicopter parent?

First, let me say that we are ALL engaging in some helicopter parenting methods in some way. When my son was in kindergarten, I switched his classroom because I didn’t like his teacher’s criticism of the colors he chose to use for a squirrel picture. It was actually more involved than that, but I’ve stepped in and ripped my son out of a classroom twice in four years rather than have him deal with a cruddy teacher.

While I let my son play alone in the front yard, I won’t let him walk home from the bus stop. When I was his age, I walked alone every day and at a much further distance, but I’m too scared he’ll get hit by a distracted driver to let him have that freedom. So yes, even I could be accused of helicopter parenting tendencies. Being over-protective in some ways does not mean you’re ruining your child’s future. Being a constant helicopter parent, though, could very well cause problems later in life!

How is Helicopter parenting ruining our children?             

I want you to think about your childhood. If you were raised in the previous century, it’s highly unlikely that your parents even knew what helicopter parenting was, let alone followed it. I explored the woods near my house alone by the time I was five. I climbed trees. I fell out of trees. Hard. I got back up and climbed again, because no one was staring at me telling me I could have a concussion or a broken bone. I learned how to get back up on my own. Something that I really needed later in life.

Helicopter parents often don’t give their kids chances to fall, let alone get back up alone. They’re right there to say “that tree limb looks weak!” or “dirt isn’t edible!” Their kids never have a chance to learn that mudpies sound good in theory but taste gross in reality, or that sometimes we fall down. Helicopter parenting kids rarely fight their own battles, so they rarely experience the victory of their own successes.

When you hover over your child so closely that you’re involved in every action they take, they’ll never learn to stand on their own two feet. They’ll also always feel like they need you to help them complete a task, which leads them to believe that they can’t ever take full responsibility for their own achievements. It’s hard to have good self-esteem when you know you only succeeded because someone helped.

What does this mean for the future? A generation of children who are completely unable to think for themselves, for one thing. Will you be there with your child when she heads off to college? Will you take her finals for her? Will you go with your son on his first job interview? His first date (creepy!)? No, you won’t (I hope!). So how can anyone think that helicopter parenting is setting our children up for success?

So how do we let our kids succeed without letting go too much?

That’s the big question, isn’t it? How do we, especially those who have been helicopter parenting all along, take a step back and let go enough to help our kids succeed? I could let my son walk home from the bus stop, but it goes against every parenting instinct I have. Should I just not trust that instinct? I don’t think that’s the answer. I think when we KNOW that there is a STRONG chance that something is dangerous, we step in. If we see our child climbing to the roof to play superman, we stop them. If we see them climbing a tree five feet off the ground, though, we step back and give them a chance to succeed.

We let them fight their own battles on the playground too. My friend and I have a philosophy when our kids play together: if no one is bleeding, we let them work it out. They’d fight for a minute, then get over it and be friends again. Now, if your child is a victim of bullying, it’s a different story. The point is, we all need to maybe take some time to reevaluate when to step in and when to step back. That is the only way our kids can grow and thrive.

What do you think about helicopter parenting? Do you disagree with me? Tell us in the comments!

16 thoughts on “Helicopter Parenting: Are You Ruining Your Child’s Future?”

  1. There has to be some sort of balance to it. You need to be protective to an extent, but you’ve got to let the kids explore and make some mistakes too. They learn that way.

  2. I have found I am way more laid back than most of my friends as parents. It means my kids are usually up for anything, which I prefer!

  3. Wat a great post! Im sort of in between. Protective when I need to be but back off and have them fall a few times too. It teaches them how to build themselves back up I think if you let them fail. My mom was the same she knew I needed to learn for myself and I think I try to do that with my own today.

  4. My mother was protective, but I do recall occasions where we were allowed to fail (tbh the failure was due to our laziness) or forced to deal with tough situations on our own. She had to restrain herself to keep from stepping in. It helped when dealing with my own children.

  5. I think that you need to raise your kids the way that is best for your family. Every family is different and it is hard to be a proper judge of others sometimes. thanks!

  6. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    I am definitely not too overprotective. My parents were and I think I would have been a different person today if they had given me some space when I was a kid.

  7. Helicopter moms are nightmares I’m dating a guy that bought a house across the street from his mom who’s husband left her his sister never left only had 2 boyfriends (only her brothers friends) never got a job outside of her mom getting her one and working with her! She was engaged moved out 3weeks later back home the guy kicked her out said she was creepy.she hates all her sons girlfriends and daughters boyfriends. I’ve lived with him for 7 years she’s never said hello! Sister either! Her boyfriend says even when he goes over there the mom never talks to him!its awkward! She’s bitter and miserable! I heard she recently has been meeting a man out for breakfast sat mornings but I don’t know for sure and my boyfriend says no way! I’d love to catch the hipocrit in action! What do I do but wait for her to die! Then maybe brother and sister will b spinsters and I’ll b out of the picture

  8. I have to agree, I’m a trial by error person and open/honest parenting. My main goal is to not mess them up! lol I have a 14 year old and so far this has worked for her!

  9. I struggle with the balance here. My husband is quite the helicopter while I’m more of a roving missile. I let my kids live their lives but sometimes I hone in on an issue and can’t stop until it’s decimated. In exchange, my daughter still needs me to remind her to brush her teeth EVERY single day.

  10. I never was the helicopter parent. Im more a “learn by trial and error” parent which resulted in two well-rounded young adults. Helicopter parents must be stressed out all the time. I feel bad for them :(

  11. Great post!!!! Need to forward this anonymously to a few parents I know……… Both of my parents had an awesome laid back approach to parenting (still with lots of structure and guidance) and I’ve tried to model myself after them. My 7 year old is extremely independent and confident in herself and her abilities… I hope that’s a sign I’m doing okay. = )

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