This Parenting Style May Have Serious Consequences

Parenting is a tough business.

We want to protect our children from all harm, disappointment, or struggle.

There is a fine line between guiding your child to learn how to cope with difficult times, and totally isolating them from anything negative that may happen.

The term “helicopter parenting” came about in recent years as many parents have overcompensated in trying to protect their children from harm.

But this parenting style can often backfire as a child enters the teen years and adulthood, having damaging effects on their ability to be independent and cope with disappointment.

The Child Mind Institute reported:

This generation of parents of young kids has, I think wisely, discovered that being very present as a parent is important to really nurture a child. But this generation has also—as it does in so many other endeavors—taken active parenting to new competitive heights.  And we are a society that tends to subscribe to the idea that if something is good, then more of it must be better. And that’s where the idea of the helicopter parent comes in, because in fact more isn’t always better.

With all the dangers facing children today, many parents are afraid to let their children experiment and make decisions on their own.

The “helicopter parent” often will make all decisions for their child, set rigid boundaries, and keep their child in a form of isolation, which in their minds keeps their child safe.

But by never allowing our children to face disappointment or make decisions when they are in a tough situation, helicopter parents may be setting their children up for failure down the road.

And, in fact, a child who does not know how to reason out consequences or make a tough choice on their own may not be able to keep themselves safe when they are faced with a difficult situation.

The Child Mind Institute continued:

Having obstacles to overcome is what helps children to build resilience, to develop coping skills to deal with things that are difficult. As they get older, they’re able to say, when facing a challenge, “Well I got through that so I can probably get through this.”   Children need to learn through trial and error—this worked, this didn’t work. This is something that that parents may have difficulty with, because of course they don’t want to see their children suffer at all.  But with no suffering, you build no skills.

Eventually an overprotected child will grow into an adult and face adult problems: “I’m having trouble getting a job.” “I didn’t get accepted to that program I wanted.” “That guy didn’t ask me to marry him.” Whatever it is, if you have no tools in your armory for coping with disappointment, for struggling and persevering, then you’re in trouble. I think that kind of lack of resilience—the feeling of being overwhelmed as an adult and unable to cope—often ends in depression.

Learning how to become resilient and weigh consequences at an early age is vital for all children.

As they grow, children will inevitably be forced with tough — or even dangerous — situations.

And knowing how to cope with disappointment and difficulty will help them succeed far more as adults.

The Child Mind Institute reported:

Wanting to protect a child from suffering is also the reason why some parents tend to be very poor disciplinarians. 

Having parents who set limits enables kids to internalize their own moral compass. They learn to say to themselves some form of, “No, I really can’t do that; that’s my limit.”  And the flip side: “Oh, I did this thing wrong, now I feel guilty and bad, and I have to make reparations.” If you didn’t provide any of this kind of training, it’s going to be harder for them to set limits for themselves.

Children who have been raised to make their own decisions will be more successful later in life.

They will have the coping skills to think through their problems and make an intelligent choice.

This is especially important when they become teenagers and face peer pressure to rebel and experiment with drugs, alcohol, or putting themselves at risk.

While keeping our children safe is every parent’s top priority, we must let them learn and make mistakes, and eventually set out on their own journey.

Strong values, learning by example, and setting reasonable boundaries — while allowing children to make mistakes and experience disappointment and failure — will help them be stronger, more resilient adults.