What are Helicopter Parents?

20 Jul

According to the dictionary, helicopter parents pay extremely close attention to their children’s experiences and problems, to the detriment of their children.  I’m not sure I understand how being overprotective parents that are close with their children and know what’s happening in their lives can be a detriment.  I mean, shouldn’t we be involved with our children’s livesIsn’t it my job to guide her through life’s experiences using the knowledge I have as an adult

Shouldn’t Just Plane Dad know and care where Beloved is at all times?  I don’t know if the ill will directed towards involved parents happened subtly or if some major cause affected everyone’s thinking.  I believe the term helicopter parenting has been around for quite some time but it does appear to have been nudged to the forefront again with the rise of the Free Range Kids movement.

Helicopter parents on Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad #helicopterparents

What are Free Range Kids?

Essentially, it’s “let’s not be afraid of most of the world’s dangers since we can’t always control them anyway”.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for letting kids be kids and enjoying some freedoms that we did as children, but I don’t see any reason to lead with the assumption that they WILL be safe.  We need to plan accordingly and watch over them on their journey. 

It is our job to make their surroundings less risky and to stop taking chances with our most treasured gifts.  I didn’t birth my daughter to let her raise herself, particularly without imparting my expertise in situations that she’ll be faced with.  I don’t want to sit by idly watching her veer down the wrong path with mistakes that will affect her life, when I can instead participate. 

In my opinion, parents are lazy and haphazard if they believe the appropriate way to teach independence and capability is by waiting for mistakes to happen and then correcting them.  They are taking the easy way out; Lord knows it is difficult and time consuming to parent as I do. 

Overprotective parents need to be on their A-game  

Me and Just Plane Dad have to think of outcomes before Beloved and her friends do, before the “bad guys” do and before the lenient parents tell her it’s okay to play in the street.  Helicopter parents have to insulate their children from harm while still teaching them how to protect themselves.  We have to internally fight our desire to say “no” so that we can provide teaching moments; lest we penalize our kids by keeping them in a bubble. 

Media loves to bash helicopter parenting because they think we are creating incapable, sheltered, scared kids that can’t fend for themselves.  In truth, we are doing double duty.  We don’t just hope for the best, we ensure it. 

Helicopter parents on Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad #helicopterparents


Since even my hubby and I disagree on some parenting rules, it is difficult to find the right balance of guidance and downright pushing.  I stay close, very close, to Beloved’s activities and Just Plane Dad is happy to allow more freedoms.  After much trial and error, we have learned to strike the perfect balance in our family, or at least according to us.  I’m sure I know Beloved feels differently. 

She is now at an age [sweet sixteen] where she wants total independence.  The way we raise her is a far cry from the other parents she knows and she’d often like to put us up for adoption.  But ultimately, and deep down, [maybe way deep down], I’m positive that she is grateful for the attention she gets from her parents.

I’ve been reading all of the fodder on helicopter parents that is circulating the web and it seems to me that we need to find common ground or more accurately, middle ground.  Not many things in life are done at “extreme” limits and parenting shouldn’t be either…that goes for over parenting or free range raising. 

While I definitely identify with the Helicopter Mom side of helicopter parents, I do recognize the need to prepare our children for the real world like just like other MoMs do.  I just don’t think they need to be in any hurry to get out there!

Hovering high and low, Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

32 Responses to “What are Helicopter Parents?”

  1. Nicole Johnson May 21, 2015 at 8:56 AM #

    I think there has to be balance. I agree we shouldn’t let our children raise themselves and we also need to allow them the freedom to grow independently from us so they are prepared for the world when we send them out on their own. I think I have a problem with the labels. We should all do our best to love, protect and nurture our children and pull the labels because they really just take away from parenting.

    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad May 22, 2015 at 10:14 PM #

      Well said. We all do the best we can and know how to do when parenting. Thanks for visiting and commenting; I truly appreciate it.

  2. Tom Dover May 26, 2013 at 8:46 AM #

    Let me explain real success to you since it’s, obviously, something you’re not familiar with. I’m a graduate of one of the 3 US Military Academies (research how difficult they are to get in and the process required). I have a MBA in Finance and an MS in Physics from a top 10 University and an MFA in English Language. I license the software I developed to Fortune 200 companies and manage Forex and risk for major banks and clients. I’m wealthy. I’m one of 4 sons. All of us are quite successful. I’m in my 30’s. We love our parents but they allowed us to be ourselves, fail, succeed, make mistakes, live a life, etc. Because, children with parents like you can’t succeed and can’t compete. They won’t last. They can’t take the heat or the stress of actually being required to do the job and live a life without someone wiping their chin and changing their diapers, like you are doing. They’re, typically, useless and entitled and overestimate their capabilities, effort and level of success. That’s a fact.

    • HeliMomandJPD May 27, 2013 at 1:19 PM #

      We’re very familiar with success and in fact our accomplishments almost mirror yours, however we chose not to discuss our education levels as they have no relevance on our blog. Just because we chose different career paths while she was younger, doesn’t mean we aren’t as blessed as you feel you’ve been. We just deem success differently. We wanted our primary focus to be on our child, not our clients.
      Our daughter was raised all around the world in a military environment, socializing with people of all cultures and has done more in her short life than most adults. She’ll do just fine. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      • CassieB May 27, 2013 at 9:15 PM #

        I think you misunderstood. What he is saying is that he accomplished those things and turned out the way he did because he had parents who did not hover and instead allowed the space to make mistakes, face consequences, and learn responsibility. You may have already accomplished similar things in your life, but will your daughter?

        No one else can tell another person how to parent their child. They have to do what they think is best. However, I agree with you that extremes in either direction are not the answer.

        Especially as your daughter is growing closer to adulthood, perhaps consider how you are allowing her independence and the freedom to make choices so that she gains autonomy and the sense of responsibility, and is able to function on her own as an adult when she leaves for college.

        I’m someone who is currently in their late 20’s and have seen the effects of helicopter parenting on friends of mine that I grew up with. I had parents who provided safety and boundaries, but ultimately trusted me to do the right thing in bad situations. As a teenager and later when I went to college, I indeed was faced with many choices and made good choices. Friends of mine who had overprotective parents, however, tended to go the opposite direction.

        These friends tended to covertly do things their parents wouldn’t approve of before graduating high school (teenagers find ways, believe me). Then, upon graduation and entering college, they went a little wild because it was the first time their parents were not right there controlling them. And to this day, those friends have still not become responsible, functioning adults.

        All of this to say in a reflective question that as your daughter is in her mid-teen years, how are you changing your parenting to reflect that and allowing more independence and choice-making?

  3. Monica February 27, 2013 at 6:41 PM #

    I’m not sure if this is the post you linked up, but I can relate to not being in a rush and I AGREE. 😉 Thanks for linking up at Family Fun Friday! http://happyandblessedhome.com

    • HeliMom February 27, 2013 at 8:25 PM #

      Thanks for visiting. I’m gonna head to your site right now.

  4. Lori Bosworth February 14, 2013 at 1:19 PM #

    I agree that some parents these days are too lenient, not knowing where their kids are, who they are hanging out with and what they are doing. On the other hand, I believe kids need some freedom to make decisions, and realistically, mistakes, since that is preparation for adulthood. I believe a happy middle ground can be achieved.

    • HeliMom February 14, 2013 at 5:39 PM #

      I agree and I keep searching for that middle ground. Thanks for commenting.

  5. TheGirl February 14, 2013 at 10:44 AM #

    Hi C. Lee Reed, I found your site on LinkedIn, and I think your blog is great! I’m much too young to have children but I guess I can still identify from adolescents view. I guess it depends on the definition of “over parenting” or “over protective” because definitely when they are younger its good to be involved in your kids’ lives, however they do start to develop individuality in their teens, and have to start dealing with problems on their own.

    For example, I remember in college, seeing parents complain to the RA about their child’s living arrangement. Albeit, the child just turned 18 and barely lived as an adult, but this is something that the child should be doing on their own — learning to deal with these kind of problems on their own. You shouldn’t have to call mom because you don’t like your roommate and the housing office has a waiting list…

    In fact, I don’t know if you read my blog, but the guy I’m dating feels like he is “independent” because he lives in another city from his parents in his bachelor pad, but they still support him financially (he turns 25 this month).

    So hopefully, this isn’t the kind of helicoptering we’re talking about…because he (my beau) said something eerily similar, about needing to be prepared for the real world, but parents shouldn’t be in a rush to take away childhood. He’s 25 his childhood is over, but yet he only knows how to make macaroni. During the hurricane he’d almost starve because the pizzeria and deli were closed.

    So hopefully, we’re preparing our kids and teaching them responsibility for themselves as well as watching over them.

    • HeliMom February 14, 2013 at 5:44 PM #

      Yes, I’ve been reading your blog and love it. I fully intend to put an expiration date on this activity…I do not want to be the mom that brings my daughter’s lunchbox to college. And we’re preparing her for life beyond our front door. Great insight; now go feed your boyfriend! He’s starving! ha hah

  6. Victoria from the Busy House Big Heart February 10, 2013 at 12:33 AM #

    There are definitely extremes to both sides of these parenting styles. I know I will try to be closer to the middle like my parents were. I was a good kid that never got into any trouble, and I didn’t want to disappoint my parents because I knew they trusted me.

    • HeliMom February 11, 2013 at 10:25 PM #

      I was the same way, still am. Don’t want to disappoint the parents. I was raised in a very lenient home and yet I understood my job was to be a good child. I wish I was that parent; I’m not. Thanks goodness, either way, I have a great kid!

  7. LDiggitty February 7, 2013 at 10:42 PM #

    I agree – there IS a fine line between overprotecting and being the “right” amount of involved. I have yet to meet a person who was harmed by their parents’ healthy and wise guidance, but I know PLENTY of folks who made a lot of avoidable mistakes because their parents wanted to be cool and hands off. It’s all about balance, and it sounds like you and your husband have it.

    • HeliMom February 8, 2013 at 7:20 PM #

      Thank you, I appreciate that. We’re trying to do this right and it feels that way. I guess time will tell.

  8. Vinma February 7, 2013 at 7:36 PM #

    congrats! you are one of the 25 bloggers to watch for this year!! Nicely Done 🙂 http://www.firepolemarketing.com/2013/02/03/bloggers-to-watch/

    • HeliMom February 7, 2013 at 8:45 PM #

      Thanks! It’s a true honor for Danny Iny to recognize me.

  9. Vinma February 7, 2013 at 7:31 PM #

    love this. Very insightful of where you are coming from 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

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