6 Signs You've Become Helicopter Parents

Amy Aitman
July 9, 2015

Are you and your partner helicopter parents? Here are 6 signs you might have fallen into this parenting style.

You may have once scoffed at the helicopter parents who anxiously watch every move on the playground or take over every volunteer job in the classroom, but what if you've become one without noticing? It's natural to want to spend all of your free time with your kids, but it may have caused you to become a helicopter parent.

What Is a Helicopter Parent?
"Helicopter parenting is that anxiety-driven, over-the-top, over-involved style of parenting in which we work to control every aspect of our children's lives," says Dr. Ann L. Dunnewold, a psychologist. "We want to make everything perfect and completely safe for our kids, making sure they are never bored or unhappy or missing out on any fun or learning opportunity," she adds.

Helicopter parents, named for the constant hovering they do over their children, do this by commandeering their kids' lives. "Helicopter parents focus on making decisions for their children," adds Dr. Karen Ruskin, a family therapist. Parents don't feel secure in letting their kids make their own choices and control their kids surroundings. "Although these children who experience helicopter parents feel loved, they may feel suffocated by the over involvement," she says.

Signs You Might Be a Helicopter Parent

  1. Playing Together Constantly
    Look around: Are you the only parent on the merry-go-round? Are you blocking him from playing with others? These could be signs you're hovering. "We all have those moments of overprotection or wanting our kids to excel at everything," says Dr. Dunnewold."You might feel guilt if you fail to talk in a singsong voice every waking moment to your baby. Or you might be driven by anxiety to hover behind your toddler, ready to protect them from any bump or bruise or playground bully."
  2. Getting Close With Teachers
    You don't just know the names of your kids' teachers -- you know their phone numbers, home addresses and favorite foods."Helicopter parents don't just get involved in their child's education, they plan, organize and maneuver every detail of it," explains Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert and author of "Get the Behavior You Want ... Without Being the Parent You Hate." "If you have your kids' teachers' phone numbers and email addresses memorized, you are probably a helicopter parent."
  3. Following Their Every Move
    Maybe your car seems to know the routes to your kids' soccer practices, dance lessons and kid yoga classes without you driving it. Cheering from the sidelines at a big game is great, but hanging around for practices and play dates often means you have no time for yourself.

    "This parenting style stresses parents, meaning they never have a chance to breathe in the midst of all the hovering and controlling," Dr. Dunnewold says. "Their own needs come last, and they are soon running on empty."
  4. Shouldering All the Responsibility
    You may do the laundry and help your child with her homework, but if you're completing all assignments and not allowing her to lift a finger around the house, you might be a helicopter parent. You think you're helping, but this behavior can get kids into trouble. "When we do everything from constantly entertaining our kids to fighting their battles, they never learn to do these things for themselves," Dr. Dunnewold explains.
  5. Taking Grades Personally
    Did that one slip-up on a progress report send you into a frenzy? Do you find yourself heavily involved in every school project, determined to get your child on top? Is it impossible for you to let him fail on his own? Hiccups in school and similar mistakes are natural, and trying to shield your child from any grade below an A isn't practical.
  6. Controlling Their Schedules
    You day planner is filled -- not with your appointments but with events, lessons and planning sessions with your kids' tutors. Helicopter parents strategically organize their kids' lives to give them every opportunity. This super scheduling comes from a place of love, but it could be too much.

    "We really like our child, we love them and we find ourselves getting incredibly invested in their emotions, in the details of their lives and try to make their lives," says Dr. Gilboa. "We lose sight of the bigger goal, which is to let our kids find and make their own happiness."

Being a helicopter parent isn't the end of the world. By recognizing your parenting style and tweaking it to fit your family, you can raise a happy and healthy bunch.

In need of more parenting tips? Check out Parenting Advice and Trends.

Amy Aitman is a freelance writer at 8 Men Writing and a mommy blogger at Mommy Patter. As a mom of a 4-year-old, she understands how easy it is to become overinvolved in our kids lives.

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