The term “helicopter parenting” has a negative connotation. It conjures an image of hyper-anxious, authoritarian parents who won’t let their children just be kids. The reality of helicopter parenting, though, is that it can actually work. The New York Times recently published an opinion piece on the benefits of helicopter parenting. Helicopter parents are best described as authoritative, not authoritarian. The key difference between the two is that authoritarian parents demand children do things a specific way, whereas authoritative parents provide a helpful framework for accomplishing tasks. You may want to ask am I a helicopter parent or a helpful parent?
If you feel that you may be a helicopter parent, ask yourself: Is my child succeeding? Are they happy about their performance in school ? If the answer is “yes”, then it frankly doesn’t matter how you characterize that level of support you’re providing. Most students need a high level of support throughout their academic careers, whether from parents, tutors, friends, teachers, or mentors. If the answer to the above question is “no”, then ask yourself: What am I doing that isn’t allowing my child to express his or her individuality, and to make mistakes?The best learning experience can come from learning from mistakes in the context of a positive interaction with a parent.
The New York Times piece referenced an important element of being a helicopter parent, in that to be a proactive, highly-involved and supportive parent, you will be working hard and experiencing moments of heightened stress. The most important thing will be to maintain your own life balance, as that will be the model that your child follows. Don’t forget to take the time to see the big picture, and realize that as long as you and your child are trying your best, you are succeeding.
John Posatko, M.A.Ed.
Director of Education
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