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5 Signs That You’re Being a Helicopter Parent
| by Pauline Flores

You’ve probably heard of the term helicopter parent before. They’re good at “hovering” around their children as if a helicopter following an escape inmate. While it’s admirable for helicopter parents to constantly put a spotlight on their kids, it could actually be detrimental to their transition to adulthood.

College kids need to be on their own to learn from their mistakes and grow into experienced adults. Without that opportunity for growth, college students depend on their helicopter parents to solve their problems. Do you think you might be a helicopter parent? Read about the 5 signs below to know for sure!

You Call/Text Your Kid Almost Every Day

A call here and a text there is fine, but every day? That’s going a little overboard. Your college kid probably won’t tell this to your face, but he is definitely annoyed with this constant contact. Be assured that not much will have changed in your kid’s day-to-day life.

Maybe you contact your kid every day because things have gotten lonely around the nest. This is an inevitability for all empty nesters. It’s okay to feel lonely, but it’s also important to note that college students have busy lives. They don’t have time to answer every call and every text, especially when they’re swamped with homework and studying.

If you realize that you’re trying to talk to your kid almost every day, then consider cutting it down to only once or twice a week. Better yet, wait for your college kid to call you. Those unexpected “I miss you” calls are always the best.

You Know Every Detail About Their Assignments and Projects

Pop quiz time! Do you ask your kid to send over the class syllabus to you? Do you insist on helping out on your kid’s assignments? Do you hound your kid on getting homework turned in on time? If you said “Yes” to any of these questions, then you are a helicopter parent!

Leave the college work to the college kid. You may think you’re being helpful, but you’re actually keeping your kid from learning time management and problem-solving skills. Even if your kid is struggling in a class, it may be a waste of your time trying to help them yourself (especially if you have no expertise at all in the subject). Instead, consider hiring a tutor for your college kid. That way, you’ll have more time making the most out of your empty nest life!

You Have Emailed Professors, Counselors, or TA’s on Behalf of Your Kid

Nothing says, “I don’t know how to handle my own problems” more than an email from parents complaining to a professor about their kid’s grade. You may be thinking that since you’re paying for your kid’s education that their grades are your business. This is simply not true.

You can see your kid’s grades by asking your kid to tell you directly, but beyond that, there is nothing you can do to change the final grade. No amount of complaining and arguing will change that C- to a C. It’s important for all parents, not just helicopter parents, to accept the fact that only the student is in control of what grade he or she receives. The main role of the parent is to cheer on and support their college kids as they whiz through the semesters.

You Provide Your Kid with Everything They Need (Plus A LOT More)

Paying for college tuition, helping out with rent, and giving an allowance is one thing, but paying for every expense that your college kid encounters is pushing it. Kudos to your for being able to help out with those expenses, but college kids need to learn how to live independently. They can’t rely on their parents’ money forever.

Having a part-time job while in college is a great way for college kids to learn how to manage their time and money. So, what should you let your kid pay for? College tuition and insurance is an understandable expense to take on, as well as part of the rent. Leave food, clothes, gas money, and entertainment expenses completely to your college kid. These are the day-to-day expenses that college students directly encounter.

You Make All the Decisions for Them

Ponder this question for a moment: Is your college kid pursuing her dreams or is she pursuing YOUR dreams? Helicopter parents often think that they know best –  their methods worked for them, so it will work for their college kid as well.

This attitude puts immense pressure on college kids to meet their parent’s expectations. This type of helicopter parenting prevents college kids from creating their own path in life. While it’s true that many college students don’t know where their paths will take them, the trial and error is all a part of the experience of transitioning to adulthood.

Often times, today’s most successful entrepreneurs got to where they are by overcoming failures, not by following a life template that their parents created for them. So, let your college kid live life on her own terms. Provide guidance if she’s struggling and wants help, but don’t insist that your solutions are best.


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