When you become a parent, it’s only natural to feel protective of your child. While they’re young, it’s easy to hold them and watch over them continually. As they become older and more mobile, things become a bit more challenging.
Do you find yourself at times being overbearing parents? 58% percent of parents who participated in a survey about helicopter parenting claimed they were not overprotective. But were they telling the truth?
Let’s examine what exactly it means to be an overbearing parent and some tell-tale signs that you might be headed in that direction.
Who Are Overbearing Parents?
The current term for overbearing parenting is defined as helicopter parenting. The name was first coined in 1969. Helicopter parenting means that a parent hoovers (like a helicopter) over their child’s every move and rescues them from every moment of harm, disappointment, bad grades, and may resort to finishing school projects for them!
Some psychologists will agree that helicopter parenting is more about the parent than the child. The parent feels that their self-worth is tied up in how their children develop and grow, or they have a difficult time letting go.
Traits of Overprotective Parents
It can be hard to identify if you’re a helicopter parent, especially since you have your child’s best interest at heart. Parents don’t always see clearly.
All parents make mistakes now and then, but a solid string of some traits can point to a bigger problem. Here are seven ways to help you uncover if you’re a helicopter parent.
1. Too Close for Comfort
Have you ever seen a parent at the playground following their child who can walk perfectly fine? Helicopter parents stay close regularly. They’re always watching their child’s every move, evaluating them, and warning them of danger ahead.
2. Make Their Choices for Them
Another phrase for this is that they’re controlling parents. Everything from friendships, choosing classes, and even manipulation come from a helicopter parent. They often don’t consider their child’s wishes or wants and will speak up for them at every chance they get.
3. Demand Perfection
Nearly every healthy parent-child relationship has a parent that desires their child to do well in every capacity. However, overprotective parents have high expectations that are impossible to reach, such as a perfect report card or consistently clean room. This makes the child feel guilty when they don’t live up to those expectations and could result in a period of rebellion.
4. Pave the Way to Success
Overprotective parents hate to see their child fail. Some have even resorted to writing college entrance exams or refuting a lousy grade for their child so that they might succeed. This “protects” the child from having to work hard and earn their success and sets the child up to feel entitled and unable to learn from their mistakes.
5. Solve Every Problem for Them
Do you get involved with every problem your child has?
Instead of encouraging the child to work it out on their own, the overprotective parent takes the matter into their own hands. Allowing the child to think through and solve their problems is a critical skill they need in adulthood. Robbing them of an opportunity to participate in conflict resolution is not a wise move.
6. Love on Their Terms
Overbearing parents often give conditional love to their children. If a child has misbehaved or does meet a standard set on them, they are made to feel guilty and parents with withholding any signs of affection towards the child. The opposite is true; if a child does well, love is given.
7. Isolate Their Children
Because some parents feel like their self-worth is tied up in their children, they will slowly ensure that their children are with them at all times. They may guilt them into believing they spend too much time with their friends, other relatives, or even the other parent. Eventually, the child feels so distraught that they have no choice but to stick by the parent even if they don’t want to.
Trouble for the Child
Overprotective parents might be misguided, fearful, or anxious, and they believe they’re doing the right thing. The opposite is usually true, as helicopter parents provide more harm than good.
Children with overbearing parents may grow up lacking confidence in their ability to do anything, no matter what it is, because their parents always took over. Like their parent, they might experience anxiety over making decisions or possess an inability to cope with disappointment and frustrations. One of the worst outcomes could be a child who believes they are entitled to everything, and won’t put in the hard work necessary for success.
Being a Healthy Parent Vs. an Overprotective Parent
While protecting your child from some things is necessary and reasonable (like protecting your home, here’s more information you can’t protect them forever, nor would you want to.
Parenting with a healthy mindset will (likely) result in children who are prepared for the world, who can think through their problems, and work hard despite obstacles in their path.
Some ways you can practice being a healthy parent are:
Encouraging the child to do activities themselves and present the opportunity to problem solve if they’re able.
Do not demand that your child follow the same path you choose. While you may have reasons for teaching your child your viewpoint, allow them to make their own choices.
Show your child that you’re a person too! Being involved in every little aspect of your child’s life and having no time for your own is unhealthy, and the child will notice.
Helicopter Parenting: Zoom Out
Being an overbearing parent doesn’t have to be part of your destiny – or your child’s. Children need to formulate their views, opinions, and success if they are to be functioning adults.
Are you looking for more parenting advice? Check out our parenting section!