What needs to happen before we shift away from helicopter parenting?

Helicopter parenting gets bad rap.  Comedians poke fun of it. Media reports the consequences of it, and educators dislike it a whole lot.

My goal has never been to be a helicopter parent. I can barely keep track of my own shoes and paperwork.  I also am fiercely independent as a person and it’s really not in my nature to hover over my kids in EVERY manner.

When my older son started having strong opinions about education, I empowered him at a young age to speak up. Own his education path.

The results of this have been mixed. At best, he spoke his mind. At worst, his soul was crushed.


You are the teacher.

A child of 7 years old comes to you and says they don’t like the books in your classroom.

And let’s be honest, that may be exactly how he says it, because he is 7.

“I don’t like any of these books in this class”

How do you respond as the teacher?  Think about it.

A   “Johnny, maybe we can spend a little time together trying to find something that works for you.”


B “Johnny that is silly. Look at all these books. I have 100’s in here! You can find something; you just need to try harder.”

One response supports the student with characteristics of self-direction and student led empowerment of educational needs.

But you know what our children encounter more often?


It’s not that we have not experienced A. It’s just that the number of times our children have come home with the B experience has taught us, trained us, that education as a whole is not ready for the opposite of helicopter parenting.


For parents to shift away from helicopter parenting we need to see our students being supported. This is not just with educational standards they need to learn, but emotional support.

B does not validate student’s feelings. B does not allow the child to feel secure in their educational opinions. What are the consequences of a child hearing the B situation over and over again? I can tell you from our experience but that is a different tangent and I’m feeling particularly focused today.

Children are often confronted with defensiveness when they challenge the system.  The message they hear is “I’m the teacher and this is the way it is”

That child learns to not express their needs and opinions.

There is no “Me” in education.

But there is “Notice”

I’m asking teachers to notice.

Notice that student who voices an opinion and asks more.

Hold your defensive response until you listen.

Why are they saying this? Where is it coming from?

Could the child be exposing a larger issue?

Seek to understand 1st.

As more and more educational institutions demand self-directed student empowered education, more and more parents are going to listen and make adjustments.

This will take time and the only way you’re going to encourage parents to change is to work with us and our students who are starting the shift.

Because believe it or not, we’re just too damn tired for helicopter parenting but will not let down advocating for our children faced with a lifetime of B’s.


4 thoughts on “What needs to happen before we shift away from helicopter parenting?

  1. I remember so clearly being in Grade 5 and asking my teacher for help with math. I explained what I was struggling with…and got “Well you are so smart in other things, just try harder.”

    NO. NO. Trying harder wasn’t working, I needed help. Advocated for myself and was treated like a kid who knew nothing of herself.

    Fast forward 35 years to my own DS in Grade 6, facing similar challenges when he speaks up for himself. But he has what I didn’t – me. Backing him up. Being there as he navigates.

    Your article really reinforced for me that what we are doing is both good and right And an uphill struggle. But one we are not alone in. Thank you.

  2. I agree with what you wrote 100%. I think there is a distinct difference between being an “interfering” parent (helicoptering) and having the sensitive to be an “intervening” (watching out for the fledgling and swooping in if needed) parent. Those “blades/wings” can get a little blurred sometimes as we try to figure out what our children need in terms of guidance, but I think being sensitive/creative with kids – whether parent, teacher, coach, etc. is a necessary skill. It’s tough, but we sorta gotta say enough to direct them/honor their thoughts and experiences but allow them to make their own choices. I’ve been sweating this out a lot with a teenage daughter…empowerment comes from feeling you’re listened to and that you make your own choices…

Leave a Reply to Kristin Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.