The Type Of Parent That Damages Their Kids The Most, According To Research

Your children will never learn with you constantly hovering over them.

strict mom punishing young son at park nimito / Shutterstock

You want to help your children as much as you can, but are you overhelping them? The best way to learn is for them to experience it themselves, and they can't do that if you're breathing down their necks 24/7.

Former Stanford dean and writer of How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims, believes that over-involved parenting AKA helicopter parenting isn't doing children any good.



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"We want so badly to help them by shepherding them from milestone to milestone, and by shielding them from failure and pain. But over-helping causes harm," she writes.

"It can leave young adults without the strengths of skill, will, and character that are needed to know themselves and to craft a life."

If you're too involved with your children's lives and take care of every problem or challenge they face, you rob them of learning about who they are at their core, how to problem-solve, and how to navigate the world and life as an adult. And when they're adults of their own, they won't know how to do anything, causing anxiety and guilt-ridden thoughts.


The increase in mental health problems among college students may reflect the lengths to which helicopter parents push them toward academic achievement.

In 2013, the American College Health Association surveyed close to 100,000 college students from 153 different campuses about their health, and the results are distressing. 

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When asked about their experiences, at some point over the past 12 months...

  • 84% felt overwhelmed by all they had to do
  • 60% felt very sad
  • 57% percent felt very lonely
  • 51% felt overwhelming anxiety
  • 8% seriously considered suicide

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"Our job as a parent is to put ourselves out of a job," said Lythcott-Haims. "We need to know that our children have the wherewithal to get up in the morning and take care of themselves."

Parents can teach their children to be self-sufficient by allowing them to be their own advocates, as well as promoting skills they'll need in real life.

Lastly, give them enough room to practice those skills on their own and let them fail, so they can learn from their mistakes and pick them themselves up. Failing isn't the end of the world — it's merely a step in the process.  

You want your child to do well academically, but they need to learn things for themselves so that when faced with life and school challenges, they can handle them. The best thing you can do for your children is let them be who they are.


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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and frequent contributor to YourTango. She's had articles featured in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Woman's Day, among many others.