Let go of their hand, school will be okay

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HelicopterParent - Jessica Wood
Graphic by Jessica Wood

Entering post-secondary for the first time can be exciting and scary for various reasons. It may be the first time you are living on your own or it may just be a huge stride in your independence.

Whatever the case, it is important to have a good support system as you enter into this new stage of your life. Having your parent or guardian there to support you can be very comforting as they have a lot of life experience and can help you on your journey to success. But what can be done if you have a parent or guardian that is over involved, causing you to feel hindered in your independence?

The term “helicopter parent” describes a parent who takes over in fulfilling or directing tasks that their child is more than capable of doing on their own. This leaves many children with little room to express their newfound independence as they venture into post-secondary.

Determining how involved is too involved can be a bit tricky.

“If we think about an upside down triangle, let’s say that, you know where at the bottom you’re giving them more support and more direction, and then as they grow older you know they have more control,” explained counsellor and psychotherapist at Wilfrid Laurier University, Sherrie Steinberg.

Steinberg also has her own practice out of St. Agatha.

“If you don’t give children that, then they don’t learn and then what happens is they maybe come away to places like university and they really don’t have the skills they need to make decisions for themselves.”

Helicopter parents may feel the need to step up to take over on decisions for various reasons.

Most of the time it is not to cause harm, but rather to help.

The fear of failure may cause a parent to hold the reigns and direct traffic in their child’s life.

In most cases, it is not that they believe their child is a failure, but rather they do not want their child to experience failure in life, academics and finances.

“Some students rely on their parents to help out or guardians, just with completing payments and gathering the right solutions to handling it,” said Service Laurier manager Necia Martins.

“I think that’s always a hard adjustment when they’re incoming first year. Because they’re used to doing it all or being there to have their son or daughter next to them and letting them do the talking is where it’s a huge shift.”

The reality is that we all go through mishaps in life and it is important to live and grow from them. According to Steinberg, the best way to deal with the pressures of pleasing an overprotective and hovering parent is to sit, talk to them and be understanding.

Make it clear that you are at a stage in life where you can take the lessons learned from their wisdom to apply to your decision making process.

Taking flight into independence is a huge step in your parent’s life just as it is in yours.

It may be an adjustment for both of you to make a change into this new life, but take your time.


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