The question was simple enough: What do kids with helicopter parents look like as adults?
User Mecha_G recently posted this on reddit, and it quickly started trending. Hundreds of examples started rolling in from kids (who are now adults) about how their helicopter parents haven’t done them any favors when it comes to growing up and becoming adults. To date, there are more than 2,000 comments, and most don’t paint helicopter parents in a great light. Many even talk about how their helicopter parents have left them anxious, depressed, and scared.
The impact is real and long-lasting.
Here are some of the examples from the reddit post of children of helicopter parents talking about the impact their that had on their life.
“I HATE feeling like I’m being manipulated, or handled.”
“I hate feeling like I’m being watched or observed while going about any sort of task or even just daily life.”
“Every job I’ve had I’ve been constantly afraid I’ll mess something up and be a disappointment. It’s honestly paralyzing.”
“Growing up, I thought having no privacy was normal.”
“Anxious. Suffocated. Helicopter parents have this unrealistic expectations but [refuse] to accept that their children are now adults.”
“I moved out a few years ago, and there are still times I’m afraid of my parents’ judgment.”
The negative impact of helicopter parents has been known for years.
Helicopter parenting isn’t just a temporary buzzword. This type of “child-centrism” approach, in psychological terms, is bad for both a parent and child’s emotional well-being. This study followed more than 400 kids over eight years, assessing them at ages 2, 5, and 10. Kids with controlling parents were more likely to have long-term issues with social skills and emotional problems. Researchers found it was incredibly important for kids to figure things out on their own and handle emotional challenges in order to be better off in the future.
Another study found that kids with helicopter parents were much more likely to have anxiety or end up on medication for depression. This one looked at college students and found that “children raised by over-involved or helicopter parents fail to develop important competencies such as time management, and coping skills. These children show less creativity, spontaneity, enjoyment, and initiative in their spare time; are less attentive to the emotions of others; are more prone to anxiety, depression, and stress; and cannot apply life skills on their own.”
It’s not like parents necessarily do this on purpose. For the most part, helicopter parenting tendencies stem from a good place. If anything they’re trying to help and empower their kids. Yet, it’s clear that monitoring and doing things for kids isn’t the way to go about it. And finally, we’re seeing more and more about the negative effects. You can even find plenty of articles out there about how not to be a helicopter parent—like this one on Healthline, which gives parents tips on how to break away from helicoptering and instead encourage independence in kids.
So let’s step back and let kids be independent.
It’s clear that kids need independence. Just go back to that reddit thread, and you can see so many young adults who are speaking out against the helicopter parenting style. We have to keep talking about it and acknowledging that there are betters ways. Sure, it might seem obvious to many, but to others, it’s not. Lawnmower and helicopter parenting are still happening.
So step back when you can, letting your kids figure things out on their own. Talk to other parents about how this is good and even beneficial for kids. And maybe even share some Let Grow resources, like our Independence Kit or our fun Adulting Chart. One of them just might be the thing that helps a kid turn into a successful, resilient young adult.