The Psychological Bonuses of Helicoptering

Rob F. brought me this very interesting link. Thank you, Rob F.

A new study in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that being overly involved in your grownup kids’ lives can do more harm than good.

What is sad is that studies are needed to prove the patently obvious.

The research was conducted by the same scientists who showed last year that intensive parenting — constantly stimulating your children — can make moms more depressed.

The causation here is all wrong. Housewives suffer from depression more than any group of population (irrespective of country, culture, socio-economic status, age, etc.) These are precisely the women who micromanage their children because they have nothing else to do with their lives. They micromanage as a result of the rage and depression they experience on a daily basis.

You may think you’re helping out by phoning your kids’ college professors to haggle over the difference between a B+ and an A–, but that interference may be undermining young adults’ ability to problem-solve and fend for themselves.

Parents don’t do this to help their children. They do it because:

1. They are bored.

2. Control is a socially acceptable form of aggression.

They are more than happy to undermine their children’s ability “to problem-solve and fend for themselves.” This is the entire goal of such parents’ existence because it will allow them to use their children as helpless puppets for ever and ever.

Constantly texting adult children and friending them on Facebook — letting them fly the coop but still demanding daily check-ins — is not exactly building a generation of confident and resilient grownups.

Well, duh! The last thing such parents want is to see their children become confident and resilient. To the contrary, they want them dependent and malleable.

“Parents are sending an unintentional message to their children that they are not competent,” says Holly Schiffrin, lead author of the study and an associate professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington. “When adult children don’t get to practice problem-solving skills, they can’t solve these problems in the future.”


This is the level of psychological discourse in this country. An unintentional message, indeed. There are thousands of little tricks controlling parents use to make their children completely incompetent. Fostering incompetence in a growing individual is a labor-intensive life-long project. If you undertake a series of consistent measures over the course of several decades, how unintentional can such actions possibly be?

To reach this conclusion, Schiffrin and colleagues surveyed 297 college-age children about their parents . . . Their answers showed that helicopter parenting decreased adult children’s feelings of autonomy, competence and connection.

And this is EXACTLY what controlling parents want. Note that this is what happens in every abusive situation: the victim of abuse is isolated, made dependent, and rendered helpless.

In turn, feeling incompetent led to increased reports of feeling depressed and dissatisfied. “These parents have the best intentions,” says Schiffrin.

Yes, the best intentions in the world, such as preventing them from ever growing up and having a life, a will, or a single breath that is their own and nobody else’s.

But her work should help moms to shift that perspective. Perhaps by choosing to watch Downton Abbey reruns instead of playing Candyland with a tot or editing college essays for a high-schooler, they’re actually building their offspring’s independence and confidence.

Yeah, ’cause “moms” are such brainless idiots that they have no idea what they are doing and why they are doing it. Can you get any more condescending? There is that much Downton Abbey even the most hard-core fan can stomach. And then what? How will cannibalizing parents entertain themselves if their child actually gets a life? This is the real problem of controlling parenting.

What is the use of publishing an article on a subject when you have zero insight in why helicoptering takes place and what purposes it serves? Do people who write these articles really believe that helicoptering parents are so stupid that they have no idea they are breaking their children’s backbone and turning them into lifeless dolls? Of course, they know exactly what they are doing. This is not a goal anybody confesses out loud or even quietly to themselves but it is, indeed, the only goal of overbearing, controlling parenting.


Am I getting confused or did Argo really win the Oscar for the best picture? I mean, it’s not a bad movie, but it’s like a billion other movies that get made every year. I liked it because it glorifies Canadians at the expense of Americans even though the intent is the exact opposite. But that’s about all I can say about the film.

Does anybody understand this?

I’m very glad I stopped watching the ceremony the year when Titanic won every award there was.