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Am I a helicopter parent? 5 signs you need to learn to let go a little

Overparenting is linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression in children. How can parents strike the right balance between being appropriately engaged with their children without over doing it?
Susan Swann, FamilyShare Modified: June 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm •  Published: June 21, 2014
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The term "helicopter parents" first made its way into the lexicon through Dr. Haim Ginott's 1969 book, "Between Parent and Child." In his book, Dr. Ginott interviews a teen who complains: "Mother hovers over me like a helicopter."

According to Wikipedia, the use of the term helicopter parents "gained wide currency when American college administrators began using it in the early 2000s as the Millennial Generation began reaching college age. Their baby-boomer parents earned notoriety for practices such as calling their children each morning to wake them up for class and complaining to their professors about grades the children had received. Summer camp officials also reported similar behavior from parents."

The rise of the cell phone is also seen as a contributing factor to helicopter parenting. University of Georgia professor Richard Mullendore called it "the world's longest umbilical cord."

Today's parents of toddlers and teens were raised by baby boomers, so helicopter parenting may come naturally to this generation. Helicopter parenting isn't about protecting children, it's about overprotecting them.

Dr. Ann Dunnewold, Ph.D, who is a licensed psychologist and author of the book, "Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box," calls it overparenting, which she describes as being involved in a child's life in ways that are "in excess of responsible parenting." Dr. Dunnewold continues, "The main problem with helicopter parenting is that it backfires."

When parents anxiously hover over children, they stunt their growing independence. The message unintentionally being conveyed is: You cannot do this without me. That message does not produce confidence and resilience in children. In fact, a study from the University of Mary Washington indicates that overparenting is linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression in children.

How can well-meaning parents strike the right balance between being appropriately engaged with their children, which increases feelings of acceptance and love, while not hovering over them?

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