We've all heard the term "helicopter mom" to describe moms that are over-protective and overly involved in their children's daily activities. For those of you who have encountered a hovering mother, it is probably apparent that she is the last to realize that her need to stay informed, be involved, or to move things along is a tad over-board. These moms frequently over-stay their welcome and hyper-manage everything.
I've witnessed this behavior in friends, clients and parents at school. Most of the time, I've said very little so as to respect the parent's perspective and to avoid passing judgment -- although secretly, I was thinking something quite different. Personally, I have been called over-protective because, for example, I haven't wanted the children to see R-rated movies or because I feel that Facebook isn't a birthright just because you are a pre-teen.
I was recently at one of my children's extra-curricular activities and I witnessed a mom completing her child's homework. I could see that this mom's motivation was rooted in love and wanting her child to do well, but it crosses the line when mommy decides to submit her academic ability instead of the child's. What is behind this behavior?
In the book The Go-To Mom's Parents' Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children, Kimberly Blaine says: "Parents who have a strong need to hyper-parent, to hover, or to control their child's environment, usually have some un-met need that makes them feel helpless and out of control. A parent's tendency to over-protect and shield a child from the world may be a way of regaining control that one lost in his past."
Or, as many of us have speculated, these parents are filling some inner need by living vicariously through their children and want everything to go well because it didn't go well for them as a child.
What I find equally as interesting is that while it is often thought that hovering only happens with mothers of young children (or at least children still in the home), many mothers continue to want the same access and influence over their adult children's lives -- a particularly disturbing phenomenon.
If you are wondering if you're a "helicopter mom," here are some warning signs:
- You are frequently suspicious of the people that care for your child. This might be a teacher, babysitter, girlfriend or even a spouse.
- You feel that no one can meet the needs of your child as well as you.
- You feel validated most as a mother when you rescue your child from harm.
- You impose your ideas on your children frequently.
- You might help complete your child's homework without being asked, volunteer to help your child with something although they don't need your help, or force your child to accept your help.
- In your free time, you consistently reflect on the terrible things that could be happening to or with your child because you're not there to supervise.
- You experience boundaries like scheduled visits with teachers and planned visit requests with family members as rude and intrusive.
This is indeed a touchy subject but we all know that when you have experienced a parent, relative or mother in-law that hovers, you wish that they would just realize how distrustful and overbearing it makes them seem. If you see yourself in some of these areas, I would encourage you to ask yourself: How can I experience another perspective? Also, please consider the long-term affects of hovering.
Blaine says: "Hyper-parenting can have some pretty serious repercussions. When children are shielded from every benign aspect of life they never learn to be responsible for themselves - they become overly reliant on others and have a hard time trusting their own instincts. They may see the world as an unsafe place to live. When we hover, the message our children receive is, "You're not capable." Children are very capable and deserve the right to live securely in this world."
To learn more about Kimberly Blaine, go to:
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