Helicopter Mama

Today I was thinking about a particular rite of passage of my son’s that is causing me some concern, and suddenly I thought, “When will I stop worrying about every step of my son’s physical and emotional well-being?  We know it’s appropriate and necessary to worry about the safety of a child, but what is that landmark moment that tells us it is time to start letting go?  What happens if I stay too long at the party – hovering my way over my son’s life through college and beyond?

Recently Mom Central interviewed 795 Moms to assess how they view their parenting responsibility, and the impact it makes on their child’s ability to succeed. Key findings include:

  • Moms feel anxious and worried for their child’s well-being, health and overall success in life.  While 89% of moms say failure is healthy for a child, 40% would step in to prevent their child from failing.
  • 47% of moms indicate they spy on their children’s electronic accounts (texting, email, Facebook) to stay in the loop and make sure everything is okay.
  • Moms closely link their personal success or failure as a parent to their child’s future success.  33% of those moms help their college-age kids pick their classes.

A Mom’s influence in family decision-making is well documented, positioning her as the key problem-solver for her family. And while being involved in every decision her child makes may seem like a natural extension of that position, is it transforming her into that much-maligned “helicopter parent?”

What do you think: is it our obligation to stay as involved as possible in our child’s safety and well-being for as long as possible, or is it our duty to recognize when it is time to start letting go?