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'Helicopter parenting' harmful to parents as well as kids

Posted September 20

There are psychological and financial consequences associated with 'helicopter parenting', and it doesn't just impact the kids. (Deseret Photo)

School is back in full swing for students across the country, as are the rotor blades of so-called “helicopter parents.”

While it can be beneficial in some aspects for parents to have a close relationship with their children, it can also cause harm when parents tend to hover close to their children, ready to rescue them at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment.

Laura Hamilton, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California and author of a new book, "Parenting to a Degree," says some parents provide so much financial, emotional and logistical support, it seems as if their children never left, according to her blog, "Families as they really are."

“There is some truth to the notion that helicoptered children are slow to adapt to adulthood,” Hamilton said. “Their academic success can come at the cost of self-development in other spheres.”

Chris Meno, a psychologist at Indiana University, wants students to find support and counsel within themselves, according to a recent IU newsletter.

"When children aren't given the space to struggle through things on their own, they don't learn to problem-solve very well,” Meno said. “They don't learn to be confident in their own abilities, and it can affect their self-esteem.”

Never experiencing struggle means adult children never experience failure, which can develop into “an overwhelming fear of failure and of disappointing others,” according to Meno.

And just because parents and children happen to have a warm and loving relationship, it doesn't erase the damage done by helicopter parenting, according to a 2015 Brigham Young University study cited by the Deseret News.

But kids aren’t the only ones harmed by helicopter parenting. Parents end up with their fair share of consequences, specifically when it comes to finances.

A 2013 Pew Research Center study found that 48 percent of adults ages 40 to 59 have provided some financial support for grown children (age 18 or older) in the past year, with 27 percent of those adults providing the primary support.

According to Hamilton, adults who extend parenting responsibilities to later in life end up “undermining their own financial security and draining emotional and psychological reserves.”

There is also a direct correlation between financial and emotional support. The more parents help their children financially, the more likely children are to rely on their parents for emotional support.

According to the Pew study, among those parents who are providing primary financial support to their grown child or children, 43 percent of parents say their children frequently rely on them for emotional support, while 45 percent say they sometimes do.

Similarly, among those parents who say they do not provide any financial support to their grown children, only 24 percent of children frequently rely on parents for emotional support and 39 percent sometimes do.

Email: solson@deseretnews.com; Twitter: @sether00ski

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