Hover no more: Helicopter parents may breed depression and incompetence

Helicopter parents, stop hovering: it’s officially not good for your kids — especially if they’re already grown.
Children are happier when parents give them the chance to be their own individual. Net photo.
Children are happier when parents give them the chance to be their own individual. Net photo.

Helicopter parents, stop hovering: it’s officially not good for your kids — especially if they’re already grown.

A new study in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that being overly involved in your grownup kids’ lives can do more harm than good. The research was conducted by the same scientists who showed last year that intensive parenting — constantly stimulating your children — can make moms more depressed.

You may think you’re helping out by phoning your kids’ college professors to haggle over the difference between a B+ and an A–, but that interference may be undermining young adults’ ability to problem-solve and fend for themselves.

Constantly texting adult children and ‘friending’ them on Facebook — letting them fly the coop but still demanding daily check-ins — is not exactly building a generation of confident and resilient grownups. And the problem only snowballs. “Parents are sending an unintentional message to their children that they are not competent,” says Holly Schiffrin, lead author of the study and an associate professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington. “When adult children don’t get to practice problem-solving skills, they can’t solve these problems in the future.”

To reach this conclusion, Schiffrin and colleagues surveyed 297 college-age children about their parents, asking a barrage of questions. Their answers showed that helicopter parenting decreased adult children’s feelings of autonomy, competence and connection. In turn, feeling incompetent led to increased reports of feeling depressed and dissatisfied. “These parents have the best intentions,” says Schiffrin. “They are being involved to help their child be successful. But as we know from the previous study, that high level of involvement is stressful for parents and it is not benefiting the kids. It’s actually harming them.”

As exhausting as such hands-on parenting is, and despite the toll it may take on the moms’ mental health, they tend to consider the sacrifice worth it because they believe they’re helping their children.

www.healthland.time.com

 

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