I hugged her tightly and then watched my daughter as she left and walked away from me going through airport security. I didn’t leave or divert my eyes until she was out of my sight. Then, my heart ached. I sensed a feeling of loss. Wait! Don’t feel sorry for me yet. You have to hear the whole story. And I’m being a little overly dramatic here for effect.
That was earlier this summer when I dropped my 16 year old off at the airport for camp. I was left with this feeling of nervousness. Is she gong to be safe? I was also sad. I was going to miss her a lot. But I have to admit something to you and it’s a little embarrassing. She was only going to be gone for a week. Well, really only four days. Hey, in my defense I have two girls and she’s my youngest. I know, lousy excuse.
My oldest goes to college far away but she and I talk several times throughout the day either by phone or text. I’ve made it a rule not to smother her so I usually wait for her to reach out to me first. We probably speak twice a day and text more often. I look forward to hearing from her. But between that and the dramatic airport goodbye, it has me wondering, am I a helicopter parent?
What’s a helicopter parent? According to Dr. Louis Kraus from Rush University Medical Center, “In it’s simplest form a “helicopter parent” is a parent that is involved in almost every aspect of their child’s life, ultimately resulting in difficulties in problem solving and being an independent young adult. ” He says helicopter parenting has probably intensified through the years because of social communication, social media and modern day electronics such as texting.
Could this be me? Is that why I miss them so badly when they leave or I worry when I don’t hear from them. I had to know. So I did what any self respecting potential helicopter parent would do and went online and took a test.
After answering a series of questions the results revealed, I’m not a fully licensed helicopter parent, but apparently, I’m airborne, meaning potential trouble is brewing.
So are there different degrees? I asked Dr. Kraus, who’s the Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Rush here in Chicago.
“There are probably some degrees but in general the terminology has one construct to it, and that is the somewhat overbearing, protective parent that does not allow their child to have the independent skills they need to grow and develop in a healthy way,” said Dr. Kraus.
Hmm! I don’t think I’m that bad. Although I did only quit cutting my teenagers steak for her last year. That’s irrelevant, right? But I never interfere in their problems with their friends, except to give them advice when they ask.
So maybe I’m okay? I’ve seen many parents like me with teenagers and adult aged kids basically offering the same “full service” parenting we’ve been giving them since they were little. I constantly have my phone by my side in case they need me for anything. Can anyone else relate to me? Or am I off my rocker here?
Dr. Kraus says most parents who do fit this category don’t realize they are actually helicopter parents and may look at other parents thinking they are lax in their parental responsibilities. Isn’t the first step in redemption admitting you have a problem? Why are some of us so protective? Were our parents this way? I’ve decided I’m going to change my evil ways. I’m half joking here but I really am going to make a concerted effort to back off.
Here’s the deal, helicopter parenting isn’t good for anyone. Not the parent nor the child. Recent studies have shown that helicopter parenting can leave a child with a lack of self confidence, depression and anxiety. I don’t want to do that to my girls. It’s time to stop. I’m going to take it one step at a time.
I’ll start right after I finish making my daughter her breakfast for lunch because it’s summer and she likes to sleep in.
Are you a helicopter parent? Are you trying to stop? Give me an example of how this term fits your parenting skills. Helicopter or airborne parents, it’s time for us to unite and back off.