The term "Helicopter parents" is often used to define a group of parents who engage in the practice of over-parenting. Helicopter parents are accused of being obsessed with their children's education, safety, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of their children's lives. Critics have criticized helicopter parents for over protecting their children and for failing to instill them with a sense of independence and a can-do attitude. Helicopter parents are also accused of over programming their children, and for failing to allow them free time to play and explore on their own. Helicopter parents defend their parenting practices, saying they are only looking out for their children's safety and education, and that they are proud to be so involved in their children's lives.
Helicopter parents have been around since the beginning of parenting, most likely. But the practice of over-parenting came into its own sometime during the 1990s when parents were bombarded with news stories about child abductions, academic competition, and ultimately, competition in a global economy.
Where Do You Find Helicopter Parents?
Helicopter parents are common in the younger grades. But they are also present in middle schools, high schools and even at the university level. The practice of over-parenting older children can prove to be embarrassing for children who are desperate to establish their independence, and break away from their families.
Free-range parenting is the backlash to over parenting. Free-range parents believe that children learn best when they are allowed to make mistakes, spend time alone, and have fewer social commitments.
Experts will likely argue the benefits and consequences of over-parenting and free-range parenting for some time to come, leaving parents to find the balance that's right for their families on their own.