A parenting genre, known as “helicopter parenting”, aims to completely run their child’s life for them. The exact opposite is “free-range” parenting where children are allowed to roam free and are not accompanied by adults everywhere. There is a happy medium, however. This style doesn’t actually have a name, but it could be referred to as “being there when needed”.
Parents can tell they have done a good job if their children grow up to be self-sufficient, happy and productive members of society. The best way to ensure that this happens is to be present when needed, offer advice when it’s asked for, be observant of their child’s behavior and to teach by example.
Teenagers tend to be rebellious. If they are constantly being told what to do, it could backfire. For example, those learning to drive will benefit more from a parent who talks about what they’re doing and why while their teenager is a passenger. Later, when the newly licensed offspring are out on their own, they will remember what their parent did in many situations that come up.
Rather than have an untrusting parent go with them everywhere they drive, it can help calm a parent’s fears to install a fleet dash cam to give help in dangerous situations.
Those Tricky Adolescent Years
No matter how charming your child was when younger, the adolescent years can be a challenge for both parent and child. Children want independence but don’t really know what they’re doing. It’s scary for everyone involved.
The very best thing a parent can do is to keep reminding their child they are always available to listen to any problem, big or small. An added caveat to that is to really drive home the idea that no matter what the problem is, you will help them through it, that it will seem much smaller when they let it out, and that you will not be angry.
Your children really want your help but are often reluctant to ask for it for fear of your anger or disappointment. If they know they can trust you as a confidant, they will.
Many parents panic during these years and stoop to gross invasions of privacy like room searches or reading their child’s email and text messages. This will only infuriate them, make them trust you less, and learn to hide from you better.
On the other hand, not being involved with them at all might give them the idea that you don’t care. Try to find the happy medium that works.
The Young Child
Helicopter parenting starts at birth, unfortunately. The idea is to save a child from anything traumatic and that the parent knows the best way to do everything, so they should just do it.
The problem with this parenting style is that one day the child will move away from the parent. Then they will be pretty much lost because they’ll realize they don’t know how to do everyday things. Instead of doing everything for your child, give them a chance.
Have them tell the waitstaff what they’d like for dinner, rather than speaking for them.
Let them make decisions from a young age. Even something simple like asking them if they want to wear the red shirt or the blue one makes them feel their decision is important and they have some power in this world.
The sad result of a child who has had every decision in life made for them is that they have trouble functioning on their own. They are inept at speaking to grownups and find it really hard to make decisions since they have never been asked. They may even be terrible at such things as knowing how to cross the street properly and how to navigate taking an elevator.
Of course, every child is different. However, in general, it is more helpful for the child when they learn at a young age that their opinion is valued and that their parent is there to always listen and help.