Are You Creating a Boomerang Kid? Are You a Helicopter Parent?
POSTED: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - 9:35am
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - 3:50pm
BROWNSVILLE — Guidance and support are good, being right on top of your child's every move and decision, however, can be detrimental to their future, on many levels. So when does a parent cross the line from being supportive to being controlling and overbearing? Tonight we'll take a closer look in to the growing trend, known as "helicopter parenting".
Helicopters hover and parents can too. In short, the term refers to a parent who is so overly involved, over parents, over councils, that, ultimately can have a negative effect on a child's mental health and can actually even harm a child from becoming independent and confident when it's time to leave the nest.
While many of these parents think they're protecting their child by removing all obstacles out of their child's path or trying to resolve all of their child's problems, some experts say it's actually causing harm in many cases.
"When I'm teaching child psych, one of the areas I go over is, "What is the role of a parent?" one of the roles of a parent is to help them become independent from you. Well helping your child to become independent is a scary thing," says UTB Behavioral Science Professor, Dr. Virginia Wood.
She adds during adolescents, as a child is trying to really figure out who they are, who they want to be, and work to gain more independence, a helicopter parent usually tends to hover more.
A helicopter parent though, can't seem to make the gradual transition into letting their child grow up.
"You want be involved in knowing where your children are, who their friends are, what they're doing, that's very, very important for healthy development," says Dr. Wood.
But excessive involvement by a parent in an adolescent’s life can force the child into destructive behavior.
"Then you have eating disorders, you have a variety of other disorders, like picking at themselves, cutting," says Dr. Wood.
These are all ways a child finds some control over their life and apparently, it doesn't stop there.
Even once a child reaches that milestone birthday, the big 18 adult hood, graduates high school and should be heading out on their own, as an adult, the helicopter parenting can still continue. Recent studies have shown excessive parental involvement during college, even during the search for employment after the kid earns a degree.
"The parent has gone too far, definitely. How can a young adult learn how to take care of themselves at work when they've got their mother guiding them through every detail of the job application,” questions Dr. Wood.
I introduce you now to what's known as the “boomerang kid”, but in many cases, these are not kids at all. They're actually full blown adults that run back to mommy and daddy when they run into a roadblock or even a slightly difficult situation during adulthood.
Stats from the National Survey of Household and Families indicate that ten percent of all young adults over the age of 25 are still living at home with mom and pops…another stat for you, one-third of all American men between 22 and 34 years of age still live at home, that figure from to the Census Bureau.
The relationship dynamic between a helicopter parent and eventually a boomerang child can be a lifelong one, but in some cases it becomes just too overwhelming for the child, or young adult, says doctor wood.
"If the child feels that the hovering is so controlling, the child may feel the only way for them to become a true independent adult is to sever the ties between the parent and child and that's such a sad, sad thing to happen for a family."
Her best advice, guide your child through life, be involved, be a supporter, but allow them to grow and become independent with you right there by their side, just not hovering over every little move they make.
"There's some point in life when we have to say, “I've done the best I can do with my children and now I'm launching them into adulthood and hope for the best," says Dr. Wood.