Helicopter parents could do more psychological harm than good

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Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Daily

Helicopter parents encircle their child’s life and make it difficult, for some, for their student to have a well rounded college life.

Ryan Anderson

Parental guidance is something all kids, teenagers and young adults need at times, but some professors and students say too much guidance can do more harm than good.

Helicopter parents are mom and dads who want to be in every aspect of their child’s life, even when they go off to college.

“To me, a helicopter parent takes over for the student. It is someone that calls the instructor and says my student got his paper in late, so can you give him an extension,” said Carolyn Cutrona, professor and chairwoman of psychology.

College is a time for young adults to go off on their own and experience life independently.

“I always meet with big groups of parents, and I say: ‘Let go of your student; let them make their own mistakes. You can be there to support them, be there to give sensible advice when they ask, but let them grow up,’” Cutrona said.

Cutrona said helicopter parenting communicates disrespect to the student and deprives them of the opportunity to solve his or her own problems.

This kind of parenting could cause issues even in a child’s life. According to an article from Psychology Today, helicopter parenting at a young age could potentially cause anxiety and depression due to the feeling of ineffectiveness and the inability to make decisions for oneself.

“It wouldn’t surprise me [if anxiety and depression were caused by helicopter parenting] partly because the student is deprived of these experiences of feeling effective, feeling like they have taken care of something and that they have solved a difficult problem,” Cutrona said.

Cutrona believes helicopter parenting is a really bad idea, and that it is sometimes used to meet the psychological needs of the parents to be needed by their child.

“In reality, [hovering] is something the parents feel they need to do and want to be just overall helpful to the kids,” said Ryan Ringsred, junior in aerospace engineering and community adviser in Buchanan Hall.

While some students come to college and are from homes with helicopter parents, freedom is given with great responsibility.

”Student shouldn’t think, ‘Oh, I can do whatever I want now.’ Students have to be adults,” Cutrona said.

Taking advantage of freedom can come with severe consequences. But not all students want their parents to give them that freedom.

“Eventually they are forced into the world, and they have to fend for themselves and not have their parents hover over them, and that’s good for them, that is what growing up is all about, getting pushed into the world you may not be ready for,” Ringsred said.