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How Helicopter Parents Affect Their Children's Mental Health for a Lifetime, According to Study

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Helicopter parents are perhaps this generation’s worst nightmare. From stalking your internet history to calling you every five minutes when you’re away at a party in a friend’s place, we all know what it is like when our mom and dad tend to be just too over protective and cross the invisible line that invades our privacy. Being concerned for your child’s welfare and safety is one thing, but putting their lives on twenty-four-seven surveillance and dictating their every choice and controlling their every move is another. Helicopter parenting takes it to a whole new level, using the time-tested excuse that elders know what’s best for their kids. This actually does way more harm than good.

As per a 2013 study involving 297 students, published  in the “Journal of Child and Family Studies,” college students with helicopter parents reported significantly higher levels of depression and less satisfaction in life and attributed this decrease in well-being to a violation of the students’ “basic psychological needs for autonomy and competence.” Academically overbearing parents may not only force their child to take up a major they have no interest or talent in, but plan their every career choice, leaving no room for voicing the student’s desires. Ultimately, the effects of helicopter parenting do not conclude with a teenager’s coming of age or a student’s moving out; it is lifelong and with deadly consequences.

1. They kill the child’s confidence.

Over-parenting may be advertised as leading the child to success, but in reality, it paves the way for a hassle-free one-way trip to hell. A child who grows up with parents who do everything for him/her, lacks the proper decision-making skills required to face life. One learns from one’s mistakes, but the helicopter mother won’t allow her precious daughter to ever make the wrong move, and as a result, the child never learns how to do the right thing. Without proper experience, the kid never learns to trust their own abilities and choices, and their self-confidence level suddenly drops. This manifests in social anxiety, withdrawal, and low self-esteem issues.

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2. Depression is inevitable; suicide is possible.

Frustrated and alone, such children succumb to depression, and many of them consider, if not attempt, suicide. College students with helicopter parents reported significantly higher levels of depression and less satisfaction in life. Thus, instead of teaching them how to live, parents end up providing a crash course on how to die.

3. The child cannot cope with real world problems.

Helicopter parents tend to forget that they cannot protect their child forever. Without the constant monitoring of an anxious dad, the son is unable to fend for himself, and performing simple day-to-day tasks become impossible. Such people are also very vulnerable and run the high risk of being cheated, for they have absolutely no idea what to do when everything is in their hands. The well-protected child is absolutely powerless to navigate the thorny paths of reality.

4. All relationships turn sour.

With every need taken care of and every wish being fulfilled before it is even uttered, children of helicopter parents may come off as selfish, immature, and impractical, to no fault of their own. They never know the meaning of adjusting and compromising, and as a result, inter-personal relationships suffer. They cannot connect with other individuals, often lack empathy, and although they may have the very best intentions when it comes to helping others, they may realize that they do not actually know how to help someone in need. As a result, they may never find true friends to make their lives a little less lonely.

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The Way Out

Helicopter parenting is becoming increasingly common, and hence, it is imperative to raise awareness about its dangerous lifelong effects it entails. Ultimately, a parent’s job is not to be the child’s best friend or force their unfulfilled aspirations upon their offspring, but to teach him/her to be a healthy, functioning adult. While the promise of being there for your kids is lovely and tempting, the best parents teach their kids to help themselves.

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