Seminar Date: May 7, 2014

Of One Mind continued its spring 2014 Parent Seminar Series with “The Counter-Productivity of Helicopter Parenting: The Price of Hovering.”   Richard B. Cohen LMFT began the lecture by defining what helicopter parents are. “Helicopter Parents” are also known as “Lawn Mower Parents” because they “clear out the way” for their child.   These parents worry, get scared, then hover. Helicopter Parents are anxious parents who have difficulty with their children making mistakes or failing. Richard explained how this parenting doesn’t teach children to be responsible for themselves. Learning to be responsible is very important for children to learn because our self-esteem is connected to accomplishing something.

It may sound counter intuitive to some but we actually need to let our kids fail so that they can learn. “Teach a man to fish he’ll eat forever.”   Richard shared that there’s a natural opportunity for kids to learn when there are consequences to their behavior. Similarly, risk estimation is under developed if a child never gets to fail. If mom and dad shield all consequences, the kid is at a loss when it’s time to launch into life.

There are negative effects to helicopter parenting. Helicopter parents have kids who quit quicker. These same kids have more discomfort under stress. They have less psychological wellness, more depression and more anxiety. The difficulty in handling their depression and anxiety leads to higher prescription drug usage.

Helicopter moms are into the details of kid. Helicopter dads are into career success and status. They are the ones threatening the little league coach. Ideally we want to monitor our children without being excessive. Try to find balance as you model and consult. Guide and limit. Richard acknowledged the other extreme of permissive parents who may not monitor enough. Richard referred to this as “free range parenting.”

Richard said to teach your kid to value school. Tell them they are doing it for themselves not for you. Raise them with the idea that respect is more important than grades. Grades are for them. Respect is for you.

One interesting area of discussion occurred after Richard pointed out this same hovering can occur in relationships where someone is carrying someone else. Does the other person in the relationship become less responsible? Richard’s suggestion for raising kids or being in a relationship is to make sure you don’t over help. Don’t always give the answer.   Praise from a parent is what’s important to a child. When a parent worries, the kid might think they don’t have it together. The long term internal reward is for children to learn to do things for themselves.

And everyone can benefit. The more a kid is taught to participate in chores, the more connected they feel to the family. Richard recommended that parents set a schedule for their household. Everyone should know when they eat, sleep, clean, play and study.  Richard challenged the parents to ask themselves “What am I teaching my kid?” He asked the parents in attendance “Can your kids be disrespectful and still go out on weekend?”  If that’s the case, then what are they being taught?