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Helicopter Parents: the Pitfalls of being a Type A Parent

This topic is very near and dear to me as it is something that I struggle with to this day. As a mother of two wonderful daughters and wanting them to be happy. All parents feel this way. You want what’s best for your kids and you will do everything in your power to give it to them. But, as you’ve probably realized if you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, I am also a Type A control freak (by nature, working towards my Zen state of settling smarter). I want what’s best for my kids and I will make 100% sure that they are on the best path.

How? Well, I’m older and wiser so if they listen to me everything will turn out right. It took a long time for me to realize that sometimes being a helicopter parent is more detrimental than helpful to your children, especially as they get older and mature. So, I’m here to help all of you fellow well-meaning helicopter parents.

What is Type A Parenting?

Type A parenting, more commonly helicopter parenting, stems from a good place. We see the potential in our kids and we want more for them than they may want for themselves. This means that we push our kids to do what we know (but really only think) is good for them. We push them into sports, volunteering, and school activities that will help them grown. We push for their grades to be at a certain level. We micromanage their studying, homework habits, and even friendships.

And if the pushing isn’t enough, we also cover for our kids! We fight their battles at school and at their extracurricular activities. Even though everything we’ve done is to lay the foundation for a happy, independent person, Type A parents fret over whether we’ve done enough.

Of course, it is vital to help your kids grow and impart good values and habits on your kids and I’m not saying you should just cast them out and let them sink or swim. Guidance is different than being overbearing. And Type A parents tend to have a harder time understanding the difference. Especially as our kids become older and capable of making their own decision, we have trouble letting go.

This Needs to Change

I’ve found that the micromanagement of every aspect of your kid’s life is detrimental to their growth and maturity, let alone a giant time suck that you simply cannot afford. And then, and therefore, they get used to you handling everything, being their motivation, and don’t feel confident in handling their own issues. And why would they feel confident? The fact that their parents have handled everything for them sends a message that says, “You’re not ready for this yet. Mommy/Daddy has this.”

It’s vital to remember that people, including our kids, learn best when they’re making their own mistakes. Successes and, yes even failures, are key for their development of self-worth. Letting your child possibly fail is nerve-racking, trust me, I know. But the faster they fail, the more they will get used to it and the easier they will get back up. The little failures are there to help build their confidence. 

I once watched a mom at a park see her son fall down off the slide, and it was as if time froze.  There was this critical parenting moment, where he would either realize that he fell hard and it hurts and go to her for comfort and consoling, most likely, ending with the inevitable silent pause followed by the giant WAIL or (what she did was amazing), she ran over to him and said “good fall buddy!” and gave him a high five, which he returned with a giant prideful smile as he marched right back up the slide to do it all over again. It was as if he didn’t even feel any pain.  She changed the dial and built his confidence and ability to fall on his bum. We all must practice falling. 

And finally, the main reason to step back a little is for your own sanity. Give yourself a break! Be there to guide and advise but also have faith in your kids. Expect them to do what they are capable of and get out of the way!