Authoritative Parenting Works

This is a good article, but the title is deceiving. The title implies that helicopter parenting helps kids achieve more: an implication I disagree with. I think the problem is that the author does not fully understand what helicopter parenting actually means.

The author describes ‘helicoptering’ as a parent who is very involved with their child, insisting on hard work and achievement and who structures their child’s whole day, leaving no downtime. But that is not what the term ‘helicopter parent’ in fact refers to. A helicopter parent is one who over protects their child and tries to eliminate all the bumps in the road. A helicopter parent jumps in too quickly to fix a difficult situation and tries too hard to avoid situations that would make their child uneasy or uncomfortable. The problem with helicopter parenting is that it prevents the child from learning how to cope with challenging situations and developing resiliency. Once they are away from the care of their parent, they can’t manage well on their own. It is like the phrase, use it or lose it. A child who does not learn to manage when times are rough while they are young, ends up kind of handicapped when they have to make the transition to adult life.

So why do I say it is a good article? The article is actually about the value of being involved with your child and using an authoritative approach to parenting rather than an authoritarian approach: two claims I totally agree with. The point is there are some very good ideas buried underneath the helicopter.

(1) Being involved speaks for itself. Children don’t do well if their parents are too detached or too permissive. Being involved gives children a feeling connection and that someone cares.

(2) Being authoritative means that the parent is confident, feels ‘in charge’ and recognizes that a child needs guidance and limits, but also respects the child’s autonomy so they leave some wiggle room.  By contrast, an authoritarian parent is controlling, demands obedience, tends to be more rigid and usually will resort to some type of aggression when a child does not cooperate as expected.  It is the authoritative parent’s sense of confidence and competence, that enable’s the parent to guide and set limits without resorting to coercion, hostility, or aggression. Underlying the authoritarian approach is usually a parent who has difficulty not being in control or difficulty with the child being a separate person, with their own perspective on the world. Reflective Parenting is designed to help parents be more authoritative and less authoritarian. We do this by helping parents to self-reflect and get in touch with the underlying reasons that are leading them to be over-controlling and hostile.

(3) Parents who work hard, care about doing well and try to achieve their best tend to raise children who do the same. The reason is uncertain. It could be they are good role models for children. Or it could be something genetic.

What I don’t like about this article: It is a one size fits all approach. Everyone is different. I believe parents would be wise to adjust their parenting approach to the needs of their child.

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