Helpful vs. Hindering 

Helicopter parenting. Drone parenting. Snowplow parenting. Bubble wrap parenting. The latest catchphrase may change, but the concept remains essentially the same: an overinvested, overprotective and generally over-the-top style of raising kids. The line between being an appropriately caring parent versus an overbearing one can be fuzzy though – and crossing it can have long-term consequences for kids. Children with parents who routinely help them too much are at a disadvantage when they must handle life’s ups and downs on their own.

Wondering if you might need to back off a bit when it comes to the level of support you provide? Take our Helpful vs. Hindering Quiz to find out:

Your 11-year-old son has a big end of the year science project due in one week that accounts for 20 per cent of his total grade. Although he’s had the directions for the assignment for three weeks, he has yet to start work on it. His current grade is borderline and doing well on this project could push him over the edge.   

How likely are you to: 

Get the directions for the assignment and think of a plan for what you need to start first. Since this is a major assignment, you’ll take the lead to make sure the project is done well and your son gets a good grade.  

  1. Very likely
  2. Somewhat likely
  3. Unlikely 
Your 6-year-old daughter comes home from school crying because she did not get an invitation to the birthday party of one of her classmates. You know the mother of the birthday girl and are surprised she wasn’t included.  

How likely are you to: 

Call or text the mom and see if you can learn why your daughter wasn’t invited. Your daughter is so upset, you’ll try to finagle an invitation if possible. 

  1. Very likely
  2. Somewhat likely
  3. Unlikely 
Your 8-year-old son is on the quiet side and takes a moment to formulate his thoughts before talking to people.  

How likely are you to: 

Speak for him when he is ordering at a restaurant, answer on his behalf when people ask him questions or step in to rescue him whenever he looks uncomfortable in social situations. 

  1. Very likely
  2. Somewhat likely
  3. Unlikely 
Your 15-year-old son has worked hard to improve his soccer skills and had hoped to make the varsity team this year. Unfortunately, he was passed over. 

How likely are you to: 

Contact the coach and find out why he didn’t make varsity – letting him know what you think your son can add to the team and asking if he might reconsider his decision.  

  1. Very likely
  2. Somewhat likely
  3. Unlikely 
Your 12-year-old daughter is very bright but is hanging out with a crowd that is nice but does not appear very academically motivated.  

How likely are you to: 

Tell her she needs to find friends with more drive and ambition to associate with and suggest a few peers you have in mind. 

  1. Very likely
  2. Somewhat likely
  3. Unlikely 
Your 16-year-old son got his first job. His manager’s personality is more gruff and surly than your son is used to, which he finds upsetting.  

How likely are you to: 

Stop in and have a talk with the manager to let him know the effect he is having on your son to see if you can make the work environment better for him.  

  1. Very likely
  2. Somewhat likely
  3. Unlikely 
After seven years of music lessons, and many awards and honors along the way, your 13-year-old daughter has decided she wants to quit music. 

How likely are you to: 

Feel angry; she owes you something since so much of your own time and energy has been involved in her musical endeavors. 

  1. Very likely
  2. Somewhat likely
  3. Unlikely 
You’re meeting a friend that you haven’t seen in a while for lunch. The conversation turns to what’s been going on in your lives.  

How likely are you to: 

Only describe the activities and interests of your children, with any focus on you concentrated on the involvement you have in your kids’ pursuits.   

  1. Very likely
  2. Somewhat likely
  3. Unlikely 

It probably comes as no surprise that the more “very likelys” you have, the more dominant you are in your parenting style. Although every child has his or her own unique set of needs that parents must take into consideration when raising them, an overall pattern of being too enmeshed in their world is a parenting red flag. Micromanaging your son or daughter’s life in an effort to remove every possible road block, thwart any potential disappointment or fix every problem is more hurtful than helpful in the long run.

Allowing your children to feel the consequences of their actions and learn how to solve issues on their own (with your judicious support) allows them to feel competent and confident – and know that any successes they have are truly their own. 

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