“Helicopter Parents:” Beware!

Much has been written lately about helicopter parents, a term coined to describe well-meaning mothers and fathers who hover over their maturing teens and young adults, preventing them from becoming fully independent and taking age-appropriate responsibility for their lives. In addition, helicopter parents are known for swooping in at the first sign of trouble to prevent their kids from experiencing—and resolving—the struggles and problems of growing up. New research supports the view that parents should be more mindful of whether their interventions would indeed meet this definition. A recent study in Journal of Family Studies found that among 300 American undergraduates, those who perceived their parents as highly controlling also reported higher levels of depression, decreased life satisfaction, and lower levels of perceived autonomy, competence, and relatedness. In other words, compared to college students who saw their parents as less controlling, these students were unhappier, felt worse about themselves, and thought they didn’t get along as well with others. At a time when young people need confidence in their own abilities and strong interpersonal skills to launch as adults, parents need to be mindful of pulling back and giving them the necessary freedom to do so.

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