The Risk in Helicopter Parenting

FullSizeRenderIn a world where we have evolved from allowing our kids to walk home from school without CPS calls, into a population with a vitamin D deficiency from never allowing our children to play outside, it is no wonder that “helicopter parenting” exists. When you are responsible for a tiny human life, a life belonging to a tiny human you also happen to be quite fond of, it is easy to slip into hyper vigilance to try to feel a sense of control over all the things that feel so out of your control.

There is a line, though, and the research is showing that while helicopter parenting  may limit some harms, it also comes with its own set of problems. Crime has decreased, and we now know that children are a lot more likely to be hurt by a relative than a stranger, but still we hover. Medicine has advanced and death by injury has been cut in half, but we hover. We hover, and we push. Are they meeting their milestones? Are they in a good enough school? Should they take violin, Mandarin, and what about that toddler chemistry course that counts toward college credit?

The danger in getting hurt, and the danger in failure, add weight to the already heavy responsibility of parenting. So we hover, because we want the world for our kids, and we hover because we want to keep our kids safe from the world.

The problems that accompany this level of intense parenting though include depression and anxiety as they get older. By protecting our kids from the dangers of the world, we prevent the existence of any space for them to learn how to function in the world.

We take them from free play so they can go to piano, and they miss out on learning social skills. We put them on literal leashes to keep from losing them at the mall, and they don’t learn how to look out for red flags on their own. Most of all, we make all the decisions for them, and they learn that they cannot be trusted to make decisions for themselves.

It’s hard. It’s scary. There is so much at stake. But in allowing our kids to fall, we let them learn that they can get back up, and we teach them that they are valuable no matter where they land.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway

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