A 30-year-old woman is sitting in her therapist’s office, talking about her inability to manage life. She is disorganized, has poor time management skills, cannot make decisions, is easily overwhelmed, has no direction in her life and is filled with anxiety.
A young adult woman just graduated from university and gets her first job. She comes down with a stomach bug and her mom calls her boss for her to tell her she can’t come into work.
A high school student shares that her teacher gave her less than an A on her assignment and her parents request a meeting at the school and demand to know why.
A preteen girl found out she has a project due in four days along with another assignment and she forgot. She is distraught and her mother offers to do the entire project for her.
A 2-year-old child is excited for her birthday because it is going to be an extravagant event with pony rides, jumping castles and princesses. Her parents couldn’t really afford all that, but everyone is doing it, so they said that they had to.
A child was just born and her parents vowed to love her and give her the life of her dreams. They hovered over her day and night from the time she was little, right through into adulthood. Now they sit dumbfounded why their daughter who they bent over backward for, did everything for, smothered her in love and helped her out of every life troubling situation, can’t hold down a job, is late for every appointment, still asks for money for food, has relationship issues, mental health issues, is overwhelmed with anxiety and sitting in a counselor’s office.
Hyper Parenting, also known as Helicopter Parenting, is harmful and psychologically damaging, yet it has been encouraged and expected in society for the last few decades. There is this idea that good parenting is being overly involved, practicing micromanagement, and giving your children everything that they want and need, despite the visible long-term effects it can have. Knowing the repercussions doesn’t deter parents from engaging in these harmful behaviors that are hurting their children and that is concerning.
Since parents are often caught up in the competition factor of who has their child in the most activities, the best schools, and the most prestigious art programs, it undermines the seriousness of the side effects of these parenting choices. This thought of noble, dutiful parenting, giving your children the best, being overly involved and coddling them, is said to be creating anxiety-fueled teens and young adults who are ill equipped to function as an adult in a healthy and independent way.
The actions and behaviors of parents that coddle and hover over their children are something that has been widely accepted and encouraged. You are considered a wonderful parent if you have your child registered for an impressive preschool when they are first born. You are admired for your wonderful contribution to your child’s experiences when you throw a lavish birthday for their first party with all the bells and whistles.
With new information that is becoming available on the effects of Hyper Parenting, we know that in the near future there could potentially be a shift in the perspectives of parenting whereas, perhaps, it will no longer be seen as the epitome of good parenting. Parents are now being invited into orientations at universities to address the issues of Hyper Parenting their children and how this is hindering their academic and life experiences (Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids, 2013). Hyper parenting has created a mental health crisis in post-secondary education institutions that are perplexing and scary.
Hyper Parenting first originated from an academic model that believed that more care and attention would ensure success. It was part of a suggested solution to help struggling kids in school. In a way, it was placing blame on parents and created this guilt-ridden parenting sub-sector that perpetuated the hyper parenting culture. So how does a parent be a loving and mindfully present parent with the pressures of society to go above and beyond, without harming their children? I struggled with this answer for a long time. I fell into the role of hyper parenting and began to see the detrimental effects it was having and I would like to think that I caught myself in time before inflicting too much harm. I had to learn balance. I not only had to stop worrying about what other people thought, but also let my child know that I believed they were fully equipped to do things for themselves. We do a disservice to our children when we do everything for them. With the intention of being helpful, we are sending the message that we don’t believe they are capable.
The pressures of parenting are not new. There have long been ideas about what constitutes a good parent. There isn’t a perfect way to parent and every family is unique with their own values, experiences, and needs. Being mindful of the emerging information on how being overly involved can cause harm is by no means a way to shame, blame or judge. It is an opportunity to reflect a little more on how we are guiding our children towards or away from becoming resilient, capable, and independent adults. We do a disservice to our children when we do everything for them. With the intention of being helpful, we are sending the message that we don’t believe they are capable.