Helicopter parenting is child abuse by enmeshed parents. Viewing children as an objectified extension of themselves, narcissistic mothers and fathers hell-bent on recreating a positive memory of “youth” for themselves socially, emotionally, and subsequently psychologically handicap their own children.
“The term helicopter parent was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969 book Parents & Teenagers by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a dictionary entry in 2011.
Similar terms include “lawnmower parenting,” “cosseting parent,” or “bulldozer parenting…” share the writers of Parenting Magazine. The noteworthy parenting journal highly recommends that any normal or stable parent who loves their child resist the compulsion to overindulge a child while purposefully steering and underparenting.
“Helicopter parenting refers to “a style of parents who are over-focused on their children,” says Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit and author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To Guide.”
They typically take too much responsibility for their children’s experiences and, specifically, their successes or failures,” Dr. Daitch says. Ann Dunnewold, Ph. D., a licensed psychologist, and author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, calls it “overparenting.” “It means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and over perfecting, in a way that is in excess of responsible parenting…” notes the source.
By refusing to allow a child to mature according to their own pace or develop interests on their own, parents guilty of oversteering while helicopter parenting diminishes their offspring’s logical capacity to both care for as well as to differentiate themselves from their enmeshed parent’s toxic “adulting” style. Many youngsters of such sick parents will do things like deliberately throwing sports games or dramatic performances in an effort to be let off the hook from being forced to perform.
If a toxic parent is embarrassed even once in public by a passive-aggressive child, they tend to punish the child in private but eventually might be kind enough to back off pushing their offspring to (for the adults’ ego satisfaction) perform. If the adult refuses to back off and stop pushing the child to “entertain” the adult’s bizarre and twisted nostalgic whims, angry teens and young adults who were forced to capitulate to adult demands that the child be this way or that, be forced to “be” this or that… look out.
Many young adults and angry but talented teens flat out refuse to perform for irrational and abusive helicopter parents once they reach a physical age of psychological maturity. Some kids balk at 12, doing things like failing at school, refusing to practice their music or dance lessons anymore, or simply blow their performances in team or solo (i.e. gymnastics) sports.
If a child complies with an adult’s wishes throughout their teenage years to be a mini-me version of their toxic parent — but has a CLUE that the adult in their life has personal issues that make them clingy, controlling, irrational, disrespectful of the child’s human rights, and/or “needy” — even if the child themselves has developed a passion for the parent’s preferred hobby, they are likely to simply stop engaging.
Many gifted and talented students stop earning top grades, quit performing music or dance entirely, step away from the gymnasium, and take up partying for a living (rather than working out while preparing for team ball, tennis, or golf team practice).
Helicopter parents truly ruin children’s ability to think of themselves as a stand-alone human. When a mother or father’s problems and wishes are the only care or concern for a child throughout the day, what little one has time left to daydream or concern themselves with personal development issues?
Pleasing a helicopter mom is simple in theory but hard in practice. They never slow down. There is always more to do, new places to go, new opportunities manufactured by the toxic parent that put pressure on a child to keep tumbling emotionally and psychologically forward while literally bouncing over normal and healthy growth milestones psychologically in the relentless pursuit of trying to help the parent impress THEMSELVES with their “great parenting”.
The more malignant the parent’s level of personal dysfunction, the more likely they are to either totally enmesh themselves with their own children’s lives — or to conversely detach from functional emotional connectivity and instead rule the household with an iron-fisted, military-esque mentality. Good little soldier children fall in line with the parents’ outlandish demands for attention and capitulation equally quickly in either scenario, principally as an act of survival.
Adult children of narcissistic parents or toxic helicopter moms and dads typically spend years of their lives confuses and in social-emotional agony after leaving the nest. Many are never fully allowed to go, noting if the parent is truly a control-monger, even adult children will be helicopter parented — told what to do, who to date, how to parent their own children, and who they are allowed to know.
Kids of all ages who rebel against controlling parents develop a host of complex anxiety issues.
Those overwhelmed with anger may stay close with an enmeshed parent, delighting at the opportunity to socially and emotionally abuse them in public or private verbally as they age. Such personality types — those with covert tendencies to be abusive, have a high level of narcissism, and an inclination to situationally abuse others while they rage — seem to be the most common types of “senior caregivers”. Constantly complaining about what their mothers or fathers want now or are demanding them to do, they seldom start to truly get an intellectual or emotional life of their own until such a time their parent dies.
Conversely, those who are emotionally sensitive and not prone to abusing others are treated the worst by both parent and other family members. Seen as the whipping boy or preferred target for social use and abuse by toxic parents and their conformist, mini-me family members, the most loving “People Pleaser” child spends a lifetime cleaning up other people’s emotional, physical, and financial messes.
Either way, the only person who benefits directly on any level (social or emotional) from the act of helicopter parenting is the Malignant Narcissist.
Because from their loins, they are able to produce what they consider being the ultimate controllable and usable “Narcissistic Supply Source”. As Christine Louise Decanonville (author of “Three Faces of Evil”) says in an article posted on Narcissistic Behavior Network, a helicopter parent (notably a narcissistic person by definition) can, in theory, get addicted to abusing their own children by over-parenting in order to keep their own emotions stimulated.
Regarding the phenomenon of Narcissistic Supply, she writes:
Narcissists are addicted to a drug known as “Narcissistic Supply“, and it does not matter whether the supply is good or bad, what matters is that the supply brings adulation, fame, and celebrity that is constant, reliable, and predictable. Narcissistic Supply really refers to those people who provide a constant source of attention, approval, adoration, admiration, etc., for the narcissist. The attention they receive from the “Supply Source” is vital for the survival of the narcissist, without it they would die (either physically or metaphorically), because their weak ego depends on it in order to regulate their unstable self-worth and self-esteem. The narcissist perceives themselves as being very independent. They could not deal with the fact that they need anybody, because needing someone would imply some boundary to their power or imply that they are incomplete. Furthermore, they cannot tolerate any sign of independence and autonomy from their “supply”, this only serves to enrage them. The narcissistic supply is there to serve them, so they try to cement their source of supply into the role they have made for them, and there they remain under the narcissist’s control. Any deviation from this position on the part of their supply will end in punishment for the transgressor. So, like the Queen Bee, the narcissist is surrounded with a hive of worker bees, all in service to their needs, which ironically make them totally co-dependent on others for their survival.
In short, resist the urge to let adult needs for attention and unresolved issues from a toxic childhood enable helicopter parenting styles to even form by habit. While posing as a loving adult but treating a child like a toy, a doll to play with, or as some lesser-important extension of a parent’s own body by objectification, toxic mothers and toxic fathers do incredible amounts of damage to their own children.
Helicopter parenting is the deliberate overparenting (in some areas) and underparenting (in others) of a child in the custody of an adult with object possession, status-seeking, and abandonment issues. It’s the only sure way to pass down a legacy of traumatizing and invalidating a child while virtually guaranteeing they will inherit a heaping dose of family dysfunction.
Do research on your own on concepts related to the development of C-PTSD in children of toxic parents, about Stockholm Syndrome, and about enmeshment itself, if you are from a toxic family where one or both of you primary caretakers is or ever was guilty of abuse by helicopter parenting. It’s a real eye-opener for people of all ages, ranging from mature children to senior citizens, to realize that helicopter parents commit a bizarre form of identity theft that tends to handicap hyper-parented offspring.
Helicopter and over-dominant parenting styles literally rob a child of their identity from birth. The deliberate interruption of the formation of a child’s own identity as a person separate from the family or a child is one of the most widely accepted yet moral abuses of parenting trust ever formed.