How Helicopter Parents Become Enabling Parents

 In Family, Recovery

It is undeniable the influence of a parent on the life of a child. Whether it is through passing along small pieces of wisdom or advice, modeling their value system or teaching important life skills, their impact spans across all areas of life. Children are affected not only by their parents’ active role in their life but equally so their absence. Unfortunately, enabling parents can hinder a child’s growth.

While biology certainly plays a role, these children are seemingly predisposed by their environment to grow into a certain character given their kind of upbringing. Not surprisingly, each parenting style has a particular impact on the life of a child. They will emulate what they see their parents doing and develop some behaviors depending on how their parents bring them up.

Most children who have difficulties in adulthood when it comes to independent living and maturity are those that were raised by overprotective parents, which is one form of enabling patterns seen in parent-child relationships. We will refer to them lovingly in this article as “helicopter parents”.

Most enabling parents are typically well-meaning and want the best for their children, and it is not hard to see how they can easily fall into the trap of these sorts of parenting tactics out of their desire to see their children succeed. However, gifting them with an easy life and removing challenging situations from their path does not end up helping them in any way in the long-term. As a matter of fact, such a child will likely grow up with an unhealthy attachment to the parents and unhealthy idea of how the world works. When the time comes for them to move out and start their own lives, they may be unable to, or they do so with great difficulty.

Helicopter parents

As a parent, you want to see your children succeed. You have taken all the steps to expose them to every activity possible and pay for extra-curricular activities so that they can be well-rounded and have a shot at further education. You want everything to be done right and to check all the necessary boxes. You’re convinced that you know the ‘right way’, and you want to ensure that your child has a great life. Behind such hovering is the idea that a child cannot do it right by themselves and therefore should not be left to their own devices to try and potentially fail.

There is nothing wrong about having dreams and hopes for your children as a parent. You may believe that you know what is best and go out of your way to make it happen for them. Sometimes, you may even bend the rules a little or try to find loopholes to give your child an advantage that was never offered to you. However, you may actually be doing damage to your child’s own sense of agency and self-sufficiency.

Helicopter parenting is a style of parenting where a parent “hovers” over their children. For example, as it relates to school work, an enabling parent may find themselves waking them up for class, checking in to make sure homework is done, setting expectations for the quality of work and grades.   Eventually, it seems parents forget that they had a life of their own and begin to solely focus on their children. Some have even gone to the extent of completing tasks that young adults are expected to do themselves.

Due to such helicopter parenting, in having things done for them and never learning to trust their own intuition, young adults of this generation are having a difficult time transitioning into adulthood.  It is no wonder there is a generation of young adults who have a sense of entitlement and inadequacy of their own accord. This is not their fault entirely as it has roots in childhood; what was modeled for them and how they learned.

Parents have a unique opportunity and responsibility to help their children-turned-young-adults learn to deal with the challenges that arise in their lives, independently. This typically involves learning to identify your own enabling behaviors and employ a more hands-off approach instead. However, when they’re struggling with addiction issues or other mental health concerns, it can be difficult to know where to draw the line.

At Launch Centers, we have worked with countless parents, helping them to learn that it is not too late, that they can still make a difference in the life of their teen, and still support them in learning the tools they need. Give us a call today to learn about our approach to helping your teen re-learn how to develop goals and move towards a successful future. 

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