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Am I a Helicopter Parent?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

What makes someone a helicopter parent? My family and my best friends say that I’m a helicopter parent who is smothering the life out of my children (ages 16, 14, and 12).

I disagree. Those are my babies, and if I don’t take care of them who will?  For example, I cook for them and make sure they are eating properly. I clean their rooms and do their laundry. I walk them to and from the bus stop or pick them up from school.

I think I should be involved in everything that is going on in their lives because it’s my responsibility. So many parents are not involved with their children, and the kids pay a big price for having unconcerned parents.

This won’t be me. I will know where my children are at all times and who my children are with. Oh, by the way I also volunteer in my children’s schools so I can keep an eye on them.

What surprises me is how my own family talks about me like I’m doing something bad. Instead of supporting me, they are talking about me to my children and my husband.

My sister told me that during a recent family visit, my daughter was complaining to her saying, “I wish Mom would back off and give me more space.” Well, space leads to mistakes, and my daughter won’t be making any.

So, Ms. Vicki, do you think I’m a good parent or a helicopter parent? Should I be concerned with what my friends and family are saying about me or just let it go?

Sincerely,
A Hovering Mom

Dear Hovering,

First of all, let me applaud you for taking your job as a parent very seriously. To your credit, there are many parents who don’t care who their children are with or what they are doing.

That said, I think you would meet the criteria of a helicopter parent. For example, you are walking a tween and two teenagers to the bus stop. You are cooking every meal for them, even making sandwiches. You stay at their schools practically every day. You fold and put away their clothes, and you clean their rooms.

Mom, all I’m saying is that you need to have some balance. Balance is healthy for everyone. For example, most 16-year-olds have a part-time job even if they are just working 8 to 10 hours a week. They drive or have driving permits. They hang out at the mall with friends. They date.

It’s healthy for children to differentiate from their parents. Differentiation shows that parents have done a great job because their children are self-reliant.

You are not giving your children the opportunity to do that. Your daughter will be going to college soon. I wonder what will happen to you if she decides to live on campus in a different city or state? How will you handle this? How will your daughter handle all of this new freedom?

In my professional opinion, I sense some anxiety. Where is that coming from? What are you afraid of and why?

If I were you, I would start loosening the reins on my children little by little and allowing them to earn more freedom with increased responsibility. Trust that you are doing a good job as a parent.

Think about what I said about the anxiety. If there is something more you would like to discuss about that, please email me again and I can help. Take care!

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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