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The Harm of Helicopter Parenting and Parents

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Comparing parenting methods to a hovering transportation device first designed in the fifteenth century… For psychologist Foster Cline alongside education consultant Jim Fay this is a great topic for their book ‘Parenting with Love and Logic’. This book focusses mainly on the fine line between loving your child and picking them up before they fall. A “helicopter parent” is very unlikely to ever respect their child’s ability to navigate the world – sometimes resulting in problems during adulthood. A helicopter parent sees the need to be a part of every aspect of their child’s being. Whether that’s schooling or social life it is all micro-managed to the same extent. Such a parent tends to be more aware of the negative aspects of their child’s life as opposed to the positives.

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Paying attention to a child is undoubtedly a good thing. Helicopter parents try to justify their way of thinking by convincing themselves that their actions will help protect their children from common problems faced by adolescents. For example, alcohol, drugs and gangs. However, new research suggests that helicopter parenting in toddlers can actually lead to an inability for children to control their impulses and emotions. Though it could be argued that this method simply shows how much the parents care, not allowing children to foster their own experiences can have a negative effect in the long run. This is exemplified by an experiment carried out in the US by: Nicole B. Perry University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Jessica M. Dollar, Susan D. Calkins, and Susan P. Keane University of North Carolina at Greensboro Lilly Shanahan The University of Züricha, a few years ago. A group of toddlers and their mothers were brought into a laboratory and given an array of toys. Throughout the experiment most of the mothers intervened and told them what to play with, even though all of the toys were age appropriate. Three years later the same children were given an unfair amount of sweets and their mothers’ reactions were recorded. When all of the children were five their attitudes towards school was recorded, then at ten the teachers were asked to test their emotional wellbeing. Those five year olds with less emotional control at five were seen to have problems socialising at the age of ten. So overall this parenting method highlights the negative effects of over protective parenting on children.

It has also been argued that children who have helicopter parents are very likely to lack self-confidence. As their parents are constantly making their decisions for them, these kids may feel nervous asking for any form of help. The decisions they make in a day have to be approved by their parents and the thought of upsetting their parents is one that can cause a feeling of anxiety. Children with over protective parents tend to lack emotional resistance. This is due to the parents’ constant coddling. As the child is constantly coddled at home he/she has no idea what to do in socially daunting or dangerous situations. In short, any ‘street-wise’ qualities are absent. Children subject to the helicopter approach are almost never inclined to take risks which means they miss out on things that could improve their quality of life. This cautious behaviour makes it very hard for “search light children” (the children of the helicopter parents) to make friends and develop socially. In extreme cases these behaviours can carry on into later life.

We can sit and think, “Oh how horrible, these nasty parents are putting all of this pressure on their young”. However, if we look at it in a more abstract way, an example would be a pickle, then it is more understandable. The longer you leave a cucumber in a can of vinegar, the more of a pickle it’s going to be. The child is represented by the cucumber, mostly tasteless and completely untainted to begin with. The can of vinegar, though a useful enhancement when it’s used for its intended purposes, can have horrible consequences for the cucumber if left in too long. If we see the vinegar as the home life, it can preserve the cucumber well for a good amount of time. However, if left too long that pickle isn’t going to go too well with the other salad vegetables – or fruits, where a cucumber is concerned-. Comparing this to a child and its parents: if we take a completely open mind and leave it in a controlling environment without thee free range to make decisions and develop opinions, by the time that open mind reaches a social situation it really is no wonder that there are difficulties coping

In conclusion, there is a very fine line between care and catastrophe. The argument above these children’s heads is a very diverse and sensitive subject. The last thing anyone wants to do is tell a mother she is wrong. At the end of the day she believes she is doing the best for her child. Almost every mother in the world believes her methods of parenting is the best way forward. After all, the children are the responsibility of their parents. Surely their parents should be the sole curators of their lives? Then in a society’s point of view. Once a pickle is pickled it is irreversible. That pickle is a pickle forever. Over protected children in this situation may never be able to socialise effectively with people of their own age group as seen in the experiment in the second paragraph. There are two opposite sides to the scale. On one hand, a child could have outstanding academic skills and absolutely no common sense or “street smarts”. On the other, a child could have complete free range over their social lives yet have little academic or sporting ability because no adult has ensured that they persevere. In all cases we can see that helicopter parenting is not an effective parenting method. This style is damaging to not only the adolescent experience but can damage the psych in later life.

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