When I first heard the term “helicopter parent” in the late 80’s, I finally had a name for an alarming and unhealthy trend by many well-meaning parents.
A helicopter parent is an overinvolved and overprotective mom or dad who believes that loving their child and being a “good” parent means protecting them from anything even slightly negative or aversive, and making sure they succeed at whatever they think the child should be able to accomplish regardless of what the child wants.
By not allowing the child to deal with the negative and painful consequences of immature, bad, stupid, irresponsible, sinful and, at times, even illegal choices, the helicopter parents rob their kids of the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Years after graduating from college, many are still dependent on mom and dad and in some cases still live with mom and dad.
What’s especially tragic is that with the best of intentions, helicopter parents end up producing dependent and entitled kids who don’t know how to make their own decisions, take care of themselves, or deal with difficult situations. They don’t know how to deal with failure, take responsibility for their mistakes, and they end up blaming everyone else for their problems. They expect the world to take care of them because they are so much more “special” than other people.
So here are 4 ways you can avoid becoming a helicopter parent:
- Teach your kids how to take personal responsibility for their choices.
- Let them experience the consequences of their choices.
- Help them understand that failure can be one of their greatest teachers.
- Let them know that they have what it takes to make their own decisions.
Kids need to learn that choices have consequences and that they will not always be rescued. Mommy or daddy won’t always be there to pay for their mistakes and bail them out. In II Corinthians 12: 9-10 we are told that, “power is made perfect in weakness” and that when we are weak we are really strong. Healthy parents understand that just as God isn’t a helicopter parent, we can best serve our kids by teaching them that mistakes are a great opportunity to learn invaluable lessons, to experience Gods presence, and to discover God’s provision and power in the process of becoming responsible young adults.