The dangers of helicopter parenting are well known. When parents closely monitor every aspect of their children’s lives, it makes it harder for children to develop the ability to manage themselves.
Helicopter parenting got its name from people who hover over their children and take care of tasks the children can easily perform for themselves. It's a form of overparenting. It is practiced on children young and old, even college students.
There hasn't been much research into what makes a person likely to become a helicopter parent. Now, based on information from both parents and children, one group of people at risk for becoming hovering parents has been identified: perfectionists.
Parents who are perfectionists may see their children's success — or lack of it — as a reflection on them.
Parents who are perfectionists may see their children's success — or lack of it — as a reflection on them, Chris Segrin, lead author of the study, said. They may engage in overparenting in an effort to achieve "perfect" results.
In the first study, 302 parents of young adults were asked to rate a series of statements designed to measure their overparenting tendencies and their levels of perfectionism. In the second, the researchers surveyed 290 parent-young adult pairs, with the parents tracked as in the first study, while their children responded to detailed statements about their parent's parenting style.
Both studies found that perfectionism and helicopter parenting tended to occur together. They also found that moms were more likely to be helicopter parents than dads.
Parents who want to change their over-involved ways should begin to focus more on their own lives, Segrin says, and stop defining themselves so strongly through the lives of their children. “We need the parents to realize they have some element of their own life — whether it's their career, their personal relationships, their hobbies — that's independent of their role as a parent, so they don't get caught up in this trap of wanting to just keep parenting their children until they're 40 years old.”