The Cost of Helicoptering and Snow-Ploughing your Child
Psychologists from the University of Mary Washington looked at how the parenting style of 'helicoptering' correlates with the self-determination and well-being of college students. 297 Undergraduates students (18-23) described their mother's typical parenting behaviors, as well as their autonomy and competence, their anxiety and depression, and how satisfied they were with life in general.
The students who described their mothers as more helicoptering were found to suffer more from anxiety and depression, and felt less autonomous. They were also struggling more to get along with others.
In two different studies it was found that young adults with helicopter parents have become addicted to affirmation, that they prefer the boost of self esteem over having sex, eating sweets and drinking.
When children are praised for accomplishments, achievements they tend to read this not as the parents intend to. They think: 'You love me for what I achieve, accomplish; this means you don't love me for who I am without my accomplishments.' They feel that they can only get love by earning it.
Another problem is that this kind of parenting, where the parent is so over involved with the child, more than with the people of his own age class is detrimental for a more deeper reason. Why does the parent have to be so focused on the child? Why does the parent have to find satisfaction for her own life vicariously through the child. The French Psychoanalyst Francoise Dolto pointed this out long time ago. In the introduction to Mannoni's 'The First Encounter with the Analyst' she mentions that the one crucial component in having a healthy development of the child is that the parents find the reason and meaning of their life in their spouse, or people of their own age, and not in their children. This means that the thinking and worries about this child, that work done for this child and the love for this child never dominate the parents' emotional life.
It is indeed the very opposite of helicopter parenting. It is interesting that like Dolto would have predicted it is specifically this kind of parenting, which goes against the one fundamental environmental condition that Dolto mentions for healthy development that is found to be connected with an increase in mental health issues among young adults.
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