Thursday, January 3, 2013

You might be a helicopter parent if...


Have You Been Cleared for Landing?

It goes without saying that every parent wants the very best for their children.  Although we all want to believe we are good parents, sometimes we simply need to look ourselves in the mirror and ask if we are perhaps a little too involved.  When our kids are young, we want to be involved in their lives, help them learn to make decisions, and assist them with life’s obstacles.  But when they become adults are we still there to make their decisions?  Do we still try to protect them from the important lessons to be learned? 

We asked a fellow Aggie and noted Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist Dr. Bruce Johns (Ph.D. ’85) to help evaluate this problem of Helicopter Parenting – those parents who hover too near their grown children.  This is a Litmus Test, of sorts, for parents to evaluate themselves and their relationships with their grown children.  See how you do.


You might be a helicopter parent if…
    
You ask your college attending son or daughter about his or her homework.
You help write your son’s or daughter’s college papers or complete them for them.
You have ever given negative feedback to one of your children's bosses or college professors.
You have called your son or daughter, who is not living at home, to make sure he or she makes it to work or school on time.
You have attempted to restrict the amount of time your college-aged child plays computer games or hangs out with friends.
You have argued with your college age son or daughter about whom he or she is dating.
You have ever told your son or daughter that his or her apartment or dorm needs to be cleaned up.
You have ever joined an argument between your son and daughter and a roommate or friend just to settle things down.
You have ever required that a reluctant college-aged child show you his or her checkbook or credit card statement.
Without first being asked, you have suggested specific clothing for a specific occasion to a college-aged child.
You insist on a curfew for your college-aged child or you remind them what time he or she should get to bed.
Your college-aged child asks you what classes they should register for, what job they should apply for, or whether they should go on a date with a given person.
You find yourself as anxious about your college-aged child's success as you were when they were in middle school or high school.
You feel like your college-aged son's or daughter's success or failure is a reflection on you.
Your college-aged child asks you to bring him or her the homework that was forgotten.


You are likely NOT a helicopter parent if…
You understand and can apply the following saying: "as a building goes up, the scaffolding must come down.
You see yourself as a consultant to your college-aged child rather than a manager.
You listen and empathize with your college-aged child and provide reassurance that you trust him or her to make good decisions.
You are willing to let your college-aged child experience life lessons that may be painful.
You help your son's or daughter's dates feel welcome and accepted, regardless of your personal affinity for them.
You encourage adult children to tackle things they may not be comfortable with.
You understand that your son’s or daughter’s problems do not automatically become yours to problem-solve for them.

Well, how did you do? 

Dr. Johns says, "it's not that parents should not stay involved with their kids as they become adults. Warm, caring parents stay involved. They just don't treat their adult offspring as children. Asking how things are going generally, what their classes are like this semester, who they're dating, why they might be so tired, whether work is going well, or how they're feeling spiritually, is all legitimate. You might ask all of those things of a friend of yours who is in school or who started a new job. The line is crossed when a parent is not willing to let an adult child struggle and work out solutions. An inadvertent message can be sent that this child, who is an adult in all other ways, is too immature or incapable to survive without parental assistance."

I am pretty confident in saying that we all probably found something to work on in our parental role.  It certainly takes work to be an effective parent, and it is never too late to begin afresh if needed.  It has been said that our children are the best expressions of ourselves, and with guidance and advice from caring parents they can become the adults we wish them to be.   


Written by Scott Olson

4 comments:

JoLynne Lyon said...

I would never ask a college-aged child to see their checkbook register or credit card balance--unless they asked me for a lot more money!

Elizabeth J. Neal said...

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Richard C. Lambert said...

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