Helicopter Parents: Are Teens Being Smothered?

In a age where technology allows for “Helicopter Parents” to monitor their kids like never before, where is the line drawn between parenting and overprotection?

Helicopter Parents: Are Teens Being Smothered?

Your mother parallel parks into an open space in front of a huge office building. You sit nervously in the passenger seat, dreading your first day of a real, grownup job.

“Now sweetheart, I packed you a pb&j sandwich for your lunch and put a little note for you in there to ease the first-day jitters a little bit,” she says with a smile. You’ve become so reliant on her since high school when she held your hand through everything.

It’s understood that most of our parents love us dearly and just want to see us reach our potential. What they sometimes fail to understand is that learning from our mistakes is part of the process. If we don’t screw up every now and then, we will crumble when faced with even the slightest bit of adversity. The problem is, how are we expected to make our own bloopers when the adults in our life prohibit any sort of defeat.

When your parents email your teacher after you get a bad grade on a test or help a little too much on school projects, they’re hindering your ability to make executive decisions and function as an individual. As much as we like having them do everything for us, they can’t call your boss when you don’t get that promotion or make your presentations for that big meeting you have. This kind of “helicopter parent” will hold your hand through 12th grade and unintentionally leave you floundering in the real world.

If you’re on the bench for a sports game and your parents harass the coach to put you in, what do you gain from that? Not being handedevery single opportunity presented should drive you to work harder and be better to earn a spot on the field, not just have it given to you for showing up. Otherwise, you’ll be in for a nasty surprise when you show up to your first job interview expecting  the CEO position to be dropped in your lap just for getting there on time.

And even as you’re reading this, you are identifying either your parent or a parent you know as one of those “over protective” types. I’ve always found it uncomfortable when I hear about legal guardians taking their teens cell phone and rifiling through their text messages with friends or monitoring their social media accounts. This to me signifies a level of distrust and reinforces an already thick barrier between parent and child. I think that as a parent you have to trust in your parenting abilities thus far to steer your child in the right directions without your constant supervision.

As much as our parents would love if every order they made was abided by infallibly, that’s just not the reality. Having our parents monitor our every move can condition us to have resentful feelings toward them. Most teenagers are wired so that if they want to do something, they’re going to go out and do it, hence the phrase “strict parents create sneaky kids”. To be stifled by Mom and Dad’s incessant control can cause us to desperately search for fresh air, usually in the form of rebellion.

Parents love us, yes, but maybe it couldn’t hurt to politely tell them to let you think for yourself for in preparation for the adult life ahead.