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5 Ways Helicopter Parents Can Ruin A Child’s Sense of Independence

5 Ways Helicopter Parents Can Ruin A Child’s Sense of Independence

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”- Anne Landers

Helicopter parenting is on the increase, it seems. It simply means that parents are always hovering and ready to rescue a child, a teenager or even college student from negative experiences, danger, risks, and failure. Overprotective parents have always existed but they are now on the rise.

According to an Indiana University study, about 38% of the interviewees reported their parents were very often ready to intervene. Parents themselves often admitted that they helped their kids – in fact, the 2013 Pew Research Survey found that 73% had helped their adult children by financing them.

The problems encountered down the line by these kids is that they face a rather brutal adult world that they are totally ill-equipped to deal with, including: poor grades, hard decisions, managing personal finances, failure at sports and at school. In addition, they can find themselves to be totally inept when it comes to doing household chores when they move into a flat on their own or with other students.

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Here are 5 things that helicopter parents do that these children, teenagers, and adults can relate to only too well.

1. They always take them to school

These kids are always taken to school and never allowed to get the bus, subway or even walk to school if it is not too far. Parents always hold their kids’ hands and some of them make sure that they accompany them right into class! They are also far too involved in arguments with teachers, sports coaches and umpires. They will not let their kids stand up for themselves.

Lenore Skenazy recently gained fame as the “world’s worst mom.” Watch the video where she explains how and why she let her nine year old ride the subway alone.

2. They prevent them from developing coping skills

Kids need to learn how to do things, fend for themselves, fight their own corner and also cope with hardship and disappointment. it seems that helicopter parents are swooping in whenever there is even a vague possibility of risk or discomfort. Julie Lythcott-Haims is the author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. How you wish your parents had read this book when you were younger!

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“Our job as a parent is to put ourselves out of a job, we need to know that our children have the wherewithal to get up in the morning and take care of themselves.”- Julie Lythcott-Haims.

3. They will never let their children indulge in risky play

Helicopter parents ban tree climbing and refuse to allow their children to get grazes, cuts; these children will also never face the challenge of getting lost and finding their way back home. It is ridiculous to discover that helmets are now sold to prevent toddlers getting hurt when they fall, while learning to walk!

The National Trust in the UK is launching a campaign to get kids to play in the countryside and get away from their PlayStations. A UK Parliamentary group has also advised parents that exposure to risk is an essential element for a balanced childhood:

“Risky play, involving perhaps rough and tumble, height, speed, playing near potentially dangerous elements such as water, cliffs and exploring alone with the possibility of getting lost, gives children a feeling of thrill and excitement.”

4. They are far too much involved in their kids’ college education

Students are supposed to be self-sufficient and highly motivated to take on new challenges. But through being ever present, helicopter parents prevent the development of such skills. Business and law schools are torn between allowing parents to be present and forbidding them for the benefit of students and staff, because the parents are footing the bill.

These helicopter parents are showing up on campus visits normally reserved for students. They have no hesitation in writing the resumes for their offspring and then calling the admissions office to check up on its arrival.

“This is not a strategy for long-term well-being. It is always better to empower children to make good choices for themselves rather than having them remain dependent on parents to sort out problems for them.”- Michael Ungar, psychologist at the Resilience Research Center at Dalhousie University.

5. They are increasing the risk of their children becoming mentally ill

Research now clearly indicates that all this hovering and protecting is having damaging effects on their children’s mental health. One research study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies shows that the students of overprotective parents were less satisfied with their life and were more prone to suffering from anxiety and depression. These students reported a real desire to feel more self-reliant and autonomous, as they lacked self-confidence.

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Thanks Mom and Dad!

Featured photo credit: Monkeys climbing tree/ Julle Allcea via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on May 4, 2021

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

They say we are the average of the five persons we spend the most time with. For a minute, consider the people around you. Are they truly who your “tribe” should be or who you aspire to become in the future? Are they really genuine people who want to see you succeed? Or are they fake people who don’t really want to see you happy?

In this article, I’ll review why it is important to surround yourself with genuine individuals—the ones who care, bring something to our table, and first and foremost, who leave all fakeness behind.

How to Spot Fake People?

When you’ve been working in the helping professions for a while, spotting fake people gets a bit easier. There are some very clear signs that the person you are looking at is hiding something, acting somehow, or simply wanting to get somewhere. Most often, there is a secondary gain—perhaps attention, sympathy, or even a promotion.

Whatever it is, you’re better off working their true agenda and staying the hell away. Here are some things you should look out for to help spot fake people.

1. Full of Themselves

Fake people like to show off. They love looking at themselves in the mirror. They collect photos and videos of every single achievement they had and every part of their body and claim to be the “best at what they do.”

Most of these people are actually not that good in real life. But they act like they are and ensure that they appear better than the next person. The issue for you is that you may find yourself always feeling “beneath” them and irritated at their constant need to be in the spotlight.

2. Murky in Expressing Their Emotions

Have you ever tried having a deep and meaningful conversation with a fake person? It’s almost impossible. It’s because they have limited emotional intelligence and don’t know how they truly feel deep down—and partly because they don’t want to have their true emotions exposed, no matter how normal these might be.

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It’s much harder to say “I’m the best at what I do” while simultaneously sharing “average” emotions with “equal” people.

3. Zero Self-Reflection

To grow, we must accept feedback from others. We must be open to our strengths and to our weaknesses. We must accept that we all come in different shapes and can always improve.

Self-reflection requires us to think, forgive, admit fault, and learn from our mistakes. But to do that, we have to be able to adopt a level of genuineness and depth that fake people don’t routinely have. A fake person generally never apologizes, but when they do, it is often followed with a “but” in the next breath.

4. Unrealistic Perceptions

Fake people most often have an unrealistic perception of the world—things that they want to portray to others (pseudo achievements, materialistic gains, or a made-up sense of happiness) or simply how they genuinely regard life outside themselves.

A lot of fake people hide pain, shame, and other underlying reasons in their behavior. This could explain why they can’t be authentic and/or have difficulties seeing their environment for the way it objectively is (both good and bad).

5. Love Attention

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest sign that something isn’t quite right with someone’s behavior can be established by how much they love attention. Are you being interrupted every time you speak by someone who wants to make sure that the spotlight gets reverted back to them? Is the focus always on them, no matter the topic? If yes, you’re probably dealing with a fake person.

6. People Pleaser

Appreciation feels nice but having everyone like you is even better. While it is completely unrealistic for most people to please everyone all the time, fake people seem to always say yes in pursuit of constant approval.

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Now, this is a problem for two reasons. Firstly, these people are simply saying yes to things for their own satisfaction. Secondly, they often end up changing their minds or retracting their offer for one reason or another (“I would have loved to, but my grandmother suddenly fell ill.”), leaving you in the lurch for the 100th time this year.

7. Sarcasm and Cynicism

Behind the chronic pasted smile, fake people are well known for brewing resentment, jealousy, or anger. This is because, behind the postcard life, they are often unhappy. Sarcasm and cynicism are well known to act as a defense mechanism, sometimes even a diversion—anything so they can remain feeling on top of the world, whether it is through boosting themselves or bringing people down.

8. Crappy friend

Fake people are bad friends. They don’t listen to you, your feelings, and whatever news you might have to share. In fact, you might find yourself migrating away from them when you have exciting or bad news to share, knowing that it will always end up one way—their way. In addition, you might find that they’re not available when you truly need them or worse, cancel plans at the last minute.

It’s not unusual to hear that a fake person talks constantly behind people’s backs. Let’s be honest, if they do it to others, they’re doing it to you too. If your “friend” makes you feel bad constantly, trust me, they’re not achieving their purpose, and they’re simply not a good person to have around.

The sooner you learn to spot these fake people, the sooner you can meet meaningful individuals again.

How to Cope With Fake People Moving Forward?

It is important to remind yourself that you deserve more than what you’re getting. You are worthy, valuable, precious, and just as important as the next person.

There are many ways to manage fake people. Here are some tips on how to deal with them.

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1. Boundaries

Keep your boundaries very clear. As explained in the book Unlock Your Resilience, boundaries are what keep you sane when the world tries to suffocate you. When fake people become emotional vampires, make sure to keep your distances, limit contact, and simply replace them with more valuable interactions.

2. Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally

Sadly, they most likely have behaved this way before they knew you and will continue much longer after you have moved on. It isn’t about you. It is about their inner need to meet a void that you are not responsible for. And in all honesty, unless you are a trained professional, you are unlikely to improve it anyway.

3. Be Upfront and Honest About How You Feel

If your “friend” has been hurtful or engaged in behaviors you struggle with, let them know—nicely, firmly, however you want, but let them know that they are affecting you. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you’ll feel better and when you’re ready to move on, you’ll know you tried to reach out. Your conscience is clear.

4. Ask for Advice

If you’re unsure about what you’re seeing or feeling, ask for advice. Perhaps a relative, a good friend, or a colleague might have some input as to whether you are overreacting or seeing some genuine concerns.

Now, don’t confuse asking for advice with gossiping behind the fake person’s back because, in the end, you don’t want to stoop down to their level. However, a little reminder as to how to stay on your own wellness track can never hurt.

5. Dig Deeper

Now, this one, I offer with caution. If you are emotionally strong, up to it, guaranteed you won’t get sucked into it, and have the skills to manage, perhaps you could dig into the reasons a fake person is acting the way they do.

Have they suffered recent trauma? Have they been rejected all their lives? Is their self-esteem so low that they must resort to making themselves feel good in any way they can? Sometimes, having an understanding of a person’s behavior can help in processing it.

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6. Practice Self-Care!

Clearly, putting some distance between the fake person and yourself is probably the way to go. However, sometimes, it takes time to get there. In the meantime, make sure to practice self-care, be gentle with yourself, and compensate with lots of positives!

Self-care can be as simple as taking a hot shower after talking to them or declining an invitation when you’re not feeling up to the challenge.

Spotting fake people isn’t too hard. They generally glow with wanna-be vibes. However, most often, there are reasons as to why they are like this. Calling their behavior might be the first step. Providing them with support might be the second. But if these don’t work, it’s time to stay away and surround yourself with the positivity that you deserve.

Final Thoughts

Remember that life is a rollercoaster. It has good moments, tough moments, and moments you wouldn’t change for the world. So, look around and make sure that you take the time to choose the right people to share it all with.

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, so take a good look around and choose wisely!

More Tips on Dealing With Fake People

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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