‘Helicopter parents’ harmful to growth

Erica Beebe

More stories from Erica Beebe

Editorial Cartoon by senior Christina Bruce

Editorial Cartoon by senior Christina Bruce

There is endless debate surrounding the ‘right’ way to raise a child. Parents play a significant role in a child’s life, so it would be no surprise that they could affect their brain development in negative ways, and often do. Recent studies show that many parents are crossing the line between being supportive and too involved, which could lead to issues like anxiety and depression later in a child’s life. These parents have earned the name ‘helicopter parents’ because of their constant hovering over their children.

A study conducted by Florida State University researchers showed that students who had a so-called ‘helicopter parent’ reported low levels of self-efficacy, higher levels of anxiety and depression and lower life satisfaction and physical health. In contrast, students who had parents who allowed them more freedom reported higher life satisfaction, physical health and self-efficacy.

Parents setting a curfew or occasionally grounding their child does not make them overbearing, but shows they care. However, a parent who goes as far as controlling their child’s diet or emailing their professors when they receive a bad grade is simple going too far. It may be challenging to watch a child struggle or fail, but this is a necessary part of childhood. Shielding a child will only negatively affect them later on. If parents are simply being supportive, they allow their children to make independent decisions, rather than deciding for them. There are good intentions behind ‘helicopter’ behaviors, but at the end of the day, parents should not hinder their child’s development.