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Helicoptering Is Not Just Silly—It's Harmful

Want to screw up your kids? Be there for them—every step of the way.

A new study from Brigham Young University concluded that helicopter parenting—which everyone agrees is astonishing in its scope and not at all helpful—will mess up your kid in ways that are the exact opposite of the piloting mom's intentions. Doesn't matter how open you are to talking about feelings; doesn't matter how many hugs you give in between controlling for every possible disaster.

Researchers on this new study wanted to understand better results of a 2012 study that found controlling parents' kids were less engaged in the classroom and had more self-esteem issues. So researchers this go-around looked at whether any warmth and support from helicopter parents could neutralize the effects of their overbearing control and protection.

Nope. The study found that warmth and support don't matter, though a lack of both can make low self-esteem even lower and take high-risk behaviors, such as binge-drinking, even higher. And Tiger Momming? The absolute worst.

The point of the research (and everything the latest top child development experts are saying): parents need to land the helicopter and let kids screw up/get hurt/feel confused.

Over the past 10 years since helicoptering became a parenting term, there has been no evidence that over-protection has any upsides. However, critics of protective parents should also keep in mind that society, not just individual parents, have had a hand in creating this modern-day monster.

Frequent reports of parents being arrested for letting kids play alone in parks, walk alone to parks, have fun in parks that feature actual pieces of metal and the not-so-soft landing ground made of concrete come at us daily. We're assaulted with popular videos trying to convince us our kids are one cute puppy away from being abducted from right in front of us. We can leave kids in a car for five minutes anymore, lest we be turned in by vigilantes with a lot of free time and an ax to grind with modern, busy moms.

Image via Twenty20/smengelsrud

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