Figuring it out: How much space do your children need?
Many working parents often rue the fact that they don’t get enough time to spend with their kids. On the other hand, if the findings of a new research are to be believed, then some parents, who give their children too much time, need to back off a bit.
The study conducted by the Florida State University, USA, reveals that children who enjoy “higher levels of autonomy from their parents” have “greater life satisfaction, better physical health, and more confidence in their own self-efficacy”. However, children of ‘helicopter parents’ were more likely to report “low levels of satisfaction and self-efficacy, higher levels of anxiety and depression.”
THE CONCEPT DEFINED
So, who is a ‘helicopter parent’, and why is it wrong to be one? “Helicopter parents are people who constantly hover around their children, both psychologically and physically, with the intention to protect them from all kinds of stressful situations. This is irrespective of the age of the child,” says child psychologist Prachi Chitre, adding that such parents always want to be the problem-solvers for their
kids. Young mothers and fathers often don’t even realise that they have become ‘helicopter parents.’
Clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany says since most new-age parents have one child, they end up becoming overly possessive. “Also, fears about gadget addiction, drugs, etc., are making parenting more difficult in today’s day and age,” she says. Surprisingly, Chitre says such parenting has become common in India, mainly because of the high levels of competition in all fields. “It is so severe in India that parents feel that they cannot allow their child to miss any opportunity. They want the best, but the method may not always be right,” she says.
NOT SO POSITIVE, AFTER ALL
More often than not, children usually bear the brunt of their parents’ overinvolvement. Psychiatrist Aditi Acharya says such children tend to lack confidence. At a young age, it is ingrained in their minds that they will always require the support of their parents to achieve success.
“Being a ‘helicopter parent’ has more negative implications than positive, because such individuals produce anxious and dependent personalities. The self-confidence and self-esteem of a child suffers to a great extent,” she says.
TIME TO CHANGE
However, remedial measures can be taken to create a positive environment for kids. Chitre says, “It is a parent’s natural instinct to protect his or her child from danger. But as rational parents, they need to ask themselves a few questions — ‘What I perceive as a threat; is it actually a life lesson for the kid?’, ‘Do I want my child to be a responsible adult, who knows how to solve his or her own problems?’, ‘Can I always be around for my child?’, and ‘Do I want to advocate self-reliance or dependency?”.