NEW YORK (ABC News) – Being a parent can be tricky. Some parents are too relaxed, and some too overbearing. But some are helicopters, hovering over their kids’ every move.
Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former dean at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult,” says parents who hover could be ruining a future generation, being too over-protective and doing so much for their kids that it’s keeping their children from becoming fully functional, independent adults.
“When kids grow up, they can’t do for themselves,” Lythcott-Haims told ABC News. “They don’t have life skills. They don’t have the skills needed in the workplace and they have much higher rates of anxiety.”
“We parents have the best of intentions but we’re over-helping…and it leads to harm,” she said.
So how can parents tell if they’re overdoing it? Lythcott-Haims, a mother of two teenagers, says there are three behaviors to watch out for: Overprotecting, over-directing and being a concierge.
“The concierge is the hand-holding type,” she explained. “They will wake you up, make sure you make all of your deadlines and argue on your behalf.”
And if you are “over-doing” it, there are ways to take a step back.
First, stop saying “we” when referring to your kids.
Secondly, stop arguing with the adults in your children’s lives. This includes coaches and teachers. Kids need to advocate for themselves.
And finally, stop doing their homework.
“They’ll do well, get into the better classes, but it teaches kids they aren’t capable on their own,” Lythcott-Haims said.
The parenting suggestions made by Lythcott-Haims have sparked a social media debate, with some agreeing that children should “learn how to solve their own problems,” as one woman wrote online. Another woman defended helicopter parents, writing, “If a child is drowning, you’re not going to walk away.”
Lythcott-Haims, who also recommends having children do chores, says her approach is more about giving kids the tools they need to be independent.
“I would never tell a parent to cut your child off and just throw them into an unfamiliar place,” she said. “We have to stop doing so much so they can really begin to lead their own lives.”
“Our job as parents is to put ourselves out of a job,” Lythcott-Haims said.