Are You a Helicopter Parent?

{2:38 minutes to read} The Netflix series Stranger Things is stoking 1980s nostalgia around the country. In addition to the hair, clothes, and popular culture references, there is another forgotten aspect to ‘80s life on full display: kids playing unsupervised. 

Are You a Helicopter Parent? by Fabienne Swartz

To be sure, a lot of improvements have been made in the way parents raise their children since the 1980s. There is a popular meme to that effect going around which says something like: 

  • Our Generation: Provide kids with a healthy balance between school, activities, and recreation.
  • Our Parents’ Generation: Feed them sometimes.  

I don’t think many people would disagree that today’s kids grow up in more enlightened times, both at home and at school. It’s from this desire to provide kids with the best possible upbringing that the urge to become a “helicopter parent” usually takes root — a phenomenon that means well but may actually stunt kids’ growth. 

If a parent is always there to supervise play, kids never learn to be on their own. When a parent is there and there’s a problem, the kids right away come and ask the parents to solve the problem. Back in my day, if my friends and I were at the park and we had an issue, we had to learn to figure it out on our own. We learned to problem solve and rely on ourselves, and to learn the ways of the world a bit more than kids nowadays. 

That is why playing outdoors with friends should be an essential part of your plans for your child. When they play outside, they are using their bodies; they’re not just sitting on a couch like when they play video games. In fact, Anthony Robbins says that when you move your body, you can change the way you feel. You may feel your mental energy can change just by standing up straighter! 

If, for whatever reason, you think your child would be unsafe playing alone with his or her friends, consider watching from a greater distance and really leaving them alone to figure out the world on their own. There are also special phones meant for kids that you can call or text in order to get regular status reports. Finally, you may want to reach out to teachers and other parents to explain your philosophy. I have had conversations with teachers over the years in which I explained that I consider failure an important part of my children’s education. 

As someone who grew up in Belgium, I am accustomed to the “old ways” — rich food combined with a healthy amount of exercise. I think a similarly balanced approach to supervising your children is probably the right way to go about it. 

Are you a helicopter parent? 

Fabienne Swartz JD (Belgium) CDFATM
Certified Divorce Financial AnalystTM
500 Mamaroneck Av.
Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
(914) 798-6940

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