Helicopter Parenting-What Experts and Teens Think

Source: http://yourteenmag.com/2012/04/helicopter-parents-3/

Haven’t we all had a helicopter moment? Perhaps it was a note to a teacher, protesting a grade or a call to a coach, insisting our teenager get to play in next week’s game. Maybe it was helping too much with an English paper or wrangling an invitation to a party. Whatever the reason, we stepped in and did for our teenager what they could have handled on their own.

What the Expert Has to Say

Why do we helicopter? Because we love our teenagers and, at times, we’re afraid for them.
 But, says Deborah Gilboa, MD a.k.a. Dr. G, a Pittsburgh-area physician who also dispenses parenting advice on HuffPost Parents and Twitter, we need to get over that. Letting our teenagers stumble is just what they need.

What do you think of the term, “helicopter parent?”

I prefer to say “enmeshed parent.” It is honest, but not as condemning.

What are we doing when we’re enmeshed with our teenagers?
We’re not building resilience. Our goal is to raise our teenagers so they can leave us; we’re important, but temporary. When we don’t teach our teenagers to manage problems on their own, they don’t learn resilience. And, if we don’t teach resilience, then we rob them of the self-esteem that comes from learning that they are resilient, that they can solve their own problems and make their way in life on their own.

So what’s the alternative?
Be engaged, but not enmeshed. Listen much more than you give advice. I read this great article years ago where the writer described how her dad responded when she came to him with a problem. He would say, “Wow, that’s a tough fix. I’ll be interested to see what you do about it.” And, he was not being patronizing. He was saying, “I’ll be interested to see how you solve this problem. I have faith in you, and I want to hear how it goes.” Listen, listen, listen, so you can be engaged, but bite your tongue. Offer advice only a fraction of the time, even though you have the perfect piece of advice. Because the message when you don’t offer advice is that you have faith that your teenager has some good ideas about how to fix this problem on his or her own.

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What Your Teen Has to Say

by Samantha Markle

“Buzzz Buzzz,” you look around, expecting to find a swarm of bees, but find your mother looking over your shoulder at your computer screen. While parents should set limits, sometimes the limits seem out of proportion. When parents allow their children to have a Facebook or Twitter account, it feels like too much when they demand the password. Their access lets them over-analyze their teenager’s friend list, and research the story behind every tweet. When parents have a strict cell phone policy, it can also seem like too much – “I take your phone whenever I please and I read every thing you send and receive.”

We all wonder, “Who invented the online grade book viewer?” Sure, it allows me to see test grades and class grades, but it also give access to my parents. Personally, I prefer to find out my grades before they see them. I understand they want to monitor my progress and enforce what needs to be done, but again, there are boundaries. I have heard of parents who confront their kids before the student even knows the grade. Unfortunately, this puts extra pressure on the student and can cause a distant relationship between the child and their parent.

In many cases, parents don’t know when to let their teenager be independent. When kids enter adolescence, they begin to defy their parents. Many times, parents continue to have the same tight grip on everything that they did when their kid were younger. This tight grip can actually cause teenagers to behave even worse and push them to sneak and lie.

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