When to Back Up

Helicopter parents is a common term we hear nowadays to describe a parent who is excessively involved or over protective in their child's life. In most circles, this is not seen as a positive thing, although it's often used with humor. Of course, being involved, supportive, and having a child know they are loved is vital to their emotional and mental health. However, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Recently, I have come across many parents of 16 and 17-year-old students who are having a difficult time backing up. Here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to decide if it's time for you to give your child some space.

  1. Does my child talk to me about personal things? Not always, not everything, but does your child feel comfortable to express themselves to you over somethings sometimes?

  2. Is my child involved in school? Do they put effort into staying on top of schoolwork? Note: the question does not ask for A's or success in school, but rather is your child trying.

  3. Is my child involved in extra curriculars? If so, do they put effort into it? Do they practice/train/learn about it outside of the mandatory times of commitment?

  4. Who does my child hang around with? What do they do for fun? Who are their parents? Do I KNOW my child's closest friends?

  5. Is my child beginning to think about and explore next step life choices? Are they thinking past the current day or week as to what their future could look like?

  6. Is my child mostly trustworthy? Have they been caught telling lies often or do they frequently tell you the whole truth?

  7. Does my child want to be a part of this family? Are they always eager to leave the house or do they enjoy some time at home and some time with family within reason? (they are a teenager after all)

  8. Do they hear you? Not do they listen to every advice you ever gave, but is there evidence that they do hear you most of the time?

  9. How do they do with peer pressure? Do they stay true to themselves or fold under it?

These are a few questions that you can ask yourself to begin deciding if it's time for you to back up. If most of these are true, most of the time, it would be in your child's best interest to let them explore their edges. They are going to sink or swim someday, often better to do it within your household :)