Over-protective and suffocating mothers and fathers threaten children’s emotional and behavioural growth.
Helicopter parents, i.e. mothers and fathers who are too suffocating and protective, threaten the emotional and behavioural growth of their children, with visible long-term effects on their academic performance and even on their adult life. Journalists Lena Greiner and Carola Padtberg have made it into a book entitled Parents Helicopter, which in Germany has become a best seller translated and published in Italy by Feltrinelli.
Over-protective mothers and fathers who want to prevent their children from having negative feelings. Helicopter parents constantly “fly” around their children and interfere by over-controlling all their activities, from school to sports, from friends to food. Their unhealthy behaviour generates oppressed children who cannot grow up and in the future they risk becoming unbalanced adults.
This is also supported by a study by researcher Nicole Perry of the University of Minnesota, published in the journal Developmental Psychology. Perry followed the development of a group of 422 children until their tenth birthday with regular meetings at 2, 5 and 10 years. During the meetings Perry studied the interaction between child and parent to assess how much the latter was controlling and overprotective. The emotional and social growth of the children was assessed at the age of 10 and it emerged that the children of “helicopter parents” – who would like to lead every moment of their children’s lives – have less development of emotional and behavioural control skills, less ability to react appropriately to difficult situations such as in the school environment or with their peers, less academic performance.
On the other hand, if the parent leaves more autonomy to the children, the children grow up more capable of calming down and reacting autonomously in stressful situations and have fewer difficulties both at school and in relationships. As Khalil Gibran wrote 100 years ago: “You are just the arc from which, like living arrows, your children are thrown forward”.