Piano, guitar and swimming lessons, maths coaching, ballroom dancing, Little Athletics, Nippers, rugby, soccer and cricket. This is the hectic life of an eight-year-old boy who spends more than 30 hours a week participating in extra-curricular activities.
It’s called ‘helicopter parenting’, a relatively new cultural phenomenon – yes, they use that word to describe it – where the parents ditch all their hobbies and work commitments to focus wholly and solely on their kid, constantly shadowing their child in an over-protective, I never want you to get a cut knee kind-of-way.
First coined in Dr Haim Ginott’s 1969 book, Parents & Teenagers,by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a dictionary entry in 2011. It is now applied to parents of even young children and typically means over-controlling, over-protecting and overwhelming a child by refusing to let them play alone, learn alone or, God forbid, trip over alone.
This style of in-your-face parenting is exactly what Aussie mum, Anna, thrives on, dedicating a whopping 50 hours a week to her children, Frankie, 8, and Janie, 4, according to the Daily Mail.
She has enrolled them in 16 extra-curricular activites (Frankie’s are listed above) a week and is always on the sidelines cheering them on, watching their every move and making sure they are doing each activity right.
This Helicopter Parenting style is becoming a nationwide trend, according to parenting experts who say it all begins when the child is just a baby, commonly in the form of a parent’s excessive anxiety about their child’s safety and whether they’re developing “normally” according to medical standards.
A new study released in June has found that ‘helicopter parenting’ is not useful and the children of ‘helicopter parents’ are less engaged in school. The researchers defined ‘helicopter parenting’ as parents’ over-involvement in the lives of their children.
The definition included parents making important decisions for their children, solving their problems and intervening in their children’s conflicts. Warmth was measured by parental availability to talk and spend time together.
The researchers gathered data from 438 students in four universities in the US, who self-reported on their parents’ controlling behaviour and warmth, then on their own self-esteem, risk behaviours and academics.
The findings suggest that loving parents cannot justify their helicoptering tendencies; too much control is too much, no matter the parents’ affection and support.
Mother of Frankie and Janie, Anna concedes her attitude stems from her own parents not being able to spend quality time with her when she was a child.
“I’m trying to give them the things that I may not have had because my parents did not have the opportunity to spend time with me and I know how much I craved it – its just so important – so maybe I’m doing too much of that,” she said.
“What else is more important than giving your kids that education? I just want them to grow up to be individuals who can do everything.”
‘I’m such a panic merchant – I just panic about things straight away and I’m such a perfectionist – to me everything is a rush.”
What do you think? How much is too much?
Here are five signs you’re a Helicopter Parent
1. You can’t let go
2. You refuse to let your child “fail”
3. You do your child’s homework (or provide too much help)
4. Your see your child’s teacher more than once a week
5. You don’t let your child play because of germs.
Photo Credit Feature Image: moravian.academy