(Over)Protective Parents: Helpful or Harmful?

Are Some Parents Too Overprotective? What do you think?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

My mom and I were speaking on the phone yesterday about a recent New York Times article on overprotective “helicopter parents,” their children and overnight camps. Did you see it?

Parents are “bombarding the camp with calls: one wanted help arranging private guitar lessons for her daughter, another did not like the sound of her child’s voice during a recent conversation, and a third needed to know — preferably today — which of her daughter’s four varieties of vitamins had run out. All before lunch.

We were laughing about how times certainly have changed since we were all younger– when parents told us to get up, rub some dirt on it, and give it another go. My Mom and I were trying to remember if I ever called when I was away at camp– maybe once– but we’re not completely certain of that figure. Of course, we didn’t have cell phones, email, web cams, or texting when we were kids– but would we have used them if we did?

People have been throwing around the term “helicopter parents” for quite some time now to describe parents who are overprotective of their children to a fault. Some people hate the term and others believe it’s spot on. Mothers and fathers often cite that “times have changed” and more hand-holding is necessary, even though, by many accounts, children in the United States are safer than ever. So is our attempt to protect negatively affecting our children’s ability to be self-determined and independent? What do you think?

Who: Sociologists find that helicopter parents tend to be mothers and fathers of “Millennials,” children of baby boomers, born between the early 1980s and 2000.

They saw their youngsters as “special,” and they sheltered them. Parents outfitted their cars with Baby on Board stickers. They insisted their children wear bicycle helmets, knee pads and elbow guards. They scheduled children’s every hour with organized extracurricular activities. They led the PTA and developed best-friend-like relationships with their children…Today, they keep in constant touch with their offspring via e-mail and cell phones. And when their children go off to college, parents stay just as involved.

Where do we see it: It’s been reported that overprotective parents are noticed on sports fields, schools, colleges, after-school programs, and now, even overnight camps. As I mentioned above, an article in the New York Times reported that overprotective parents have seeped into the camp culture, a place where children’s distance from home was often equated with “growing up” and “standing on their own 2 feet.”

In fact, the camps are now employing full-time parent liaisons to counsel parents from 7am to 10pm via email and phone. This position has become absolutely necessary because camps feel that they need to cater to the increasing number of parents who:

make unsolicited bunk placement requests, flagrantly flout a camp’s ban on cellphones and junk food, and consider summer an ideal time to give their offspring a secret vacation from Ritalin.

While camps want to accommodate parents, they worry that their over-involvement is negating the point of camp—a place to learn how to solve problems and make decisions without parental involvement. ]

What’s going on? Many reasons have been cited as motivators of overprotective parents. Parents are overprotective for all different reasons. In some cases, parents perceive that when they do something for their child, it comes out better. In other cases, parents feel a need for control in a world that seems more unpredictable and scary that it was when they were younger. Some parents have a fear of failure and hate to see their children struggle while others have a fear that their children will succeed and no longer need them as much as they did at one time. Still others feel entitled to check in with or about their children at any given time or they feel empowered by living vicariously through their sons and daughters who are doing things that the parents might not have been able to do when they were younger.

Here’s the rub from several sides:

(1) A study shows…Parental involvement can be very helpful. Data from 24 colleges and universities gathered for the National Survey of Student Engagement show that students whose parents were very often in contact with them and frequently intervened on their behalf “reported higher levels of engagement and more frequent use of deep learning activities,” such as after-class discussions with professors, intensive writing exercises and independent research, than students with less-involved parents. “Compared with their counterparts, children of helicopter parents were more satisfied with every aspect of their college experience, gained more in such areas as writing and critical thinking, and were more likely to talk with faculty and peers about substantive topics,” said survey director George D. Kuh, an Indiana University professor.

(2) A mixed reaction… Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun as well as a mother of a 9 year old son, recently talked about allowing her son to ride the subway on his own. People voiced both dismay and encouragement and called her everything from neglectful to a breath of fresh air. She used the incident to create her own blog about kids and independence, called Free Range Kids. The idea behind the concept is to live responsibly (seat belts, helmets, airbags, etc.), but not to restrict your child’s actions out of fear.

(3) The negative side of over-protectiveness, including:

(a) Undermining children’s confidence in their own abilities to take care of themselves and get things done;

(b) Instilling fear of failure such that they are denied the chance to learn how to persevere while standing on their own 2 feet;

(c) Stunting growth and development—in fact, studies have shown that these children lack some of the knowledge to negotiate what they need, solve their own problems, stay safe, and interact in close quarters with others;

(d) Inability to launch because they’re unsure of their passion, their own direction, and what to do next, if it means doing it on their own;

(e) Taking more staff, teacher, and administrator resources that would be directed towards their children but instead, must be used to tend to parental needs and wants; and, ironically,

(f) Raising parental anxiety levelsresearch has shown that parents who consistently judge their own self worth by their children’s success report feeling more sad and having a more negative self image than parents who did not engage in this behavior.

So, what do you think? Are parents going too far to protect their children and teens or are they justified in doing so? Do you think the affects are more positive or negative? Why? This is a heated topic with many different opinions. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Please comment below!

Related:

Letters to their helicopter parents from their children: first of series

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38 Responses

  1. I came across this article and I actually smiled. As a teacher I was glad to see there was finally a term that could describe some of the experiences i’ve had with parents over the last seven years. There isn’t enough space here for me to talk about all of the helicopter parents i’ve encountered but i will say that yes they do exsist and yes the negative side is true. The strongest one i find is the fear of failure….most students i’ve had that have overprotective parents have a huge fear of failure.

  2. Thank you, Angela. So glad you came by and would love to hear your take on your experience with parents. It’s sad that so many children have fear of failure due to the fact that they’ve been so protected by their parents. Of course, parents have their hearts in the right place– it can be difficult to step back– but for the good of our children, we have to muster up that courage!

    Thank you for the “teacher” perspective. Come back soon.

    Dr. Robyn

  3. […] So before I leap into tips that can help your child feel more comfortable in new situations, it’s necessary to subside our own fears first. Take a breath. Talk to a more experienced friend, partner, or parent. Remain calm and avoid falling into the role of overprotective “Helicopter Parent.” […]

  4. Hello I know the feeling and everything you say about these helicopter parents. I have two. But why is my mom…an Extreamly Over Protective Parent, does she have the right to control my life? I though we are all consider adults at 18 years old? I am now in my late 20’s.! I don’t know what to do anymore!!! She treats me and my older sister (who is in her early 30’s) like we’re 10 years old…!!
    PLEASE HELP Its DRIVING ME UP THE WALL!!!!

  5. Hello T.O.

    Thanks for dropping by!

    I can tell that you’re very frustrated with your parents right now. They clearly care about you. Have you talked to them, in a very adult manner, about your concerns, wants, and needs AS an adult? Do you live very close by? Do you have healthy boundaries with you parents? As an adult, it’s very important that you talk to your parents and tell them how you feel and what you’d think would be healthier in your parent-adult child relationship. Sometimes, when people don’t move away from home (for college or otherwise), there is a lack of shift in the relationship from between childhood and adulthood. It’s past time.

    Certainly, be kind to your parents. The more adult, grateful, and kind you can be, the more they will see you as the independent adult you long to be.

    Best regards,
    Dr. Robyn

  6. […] been told by my daughter that I used to be a “helicopter parent” but that now I’m much better. I’m happy about that! I was wondering though, if I do have a […]

  7. Thanks, Dr. Robyn. As the adult child of a single mother who was pathologically overprotective, I’ve often felt that an overprotective parenting style can be as damaging as one on the more “neglectful” end of the spectrum. I am only now recovering from years of a debilitating anxiety disorder. And don’t think my mother didn’t get involved in that, too, insisting that I visit everyone from a neurologist to a homeopath to resolve the panic attacks that were, in effect, triggered by her intrusive and demeaning behavior. It was only when I made up my mind to separate from her that I began to feel in control and less terrified.

    What’s interesting is that when I was young, school counsellors, relatives, etc, noticed and tried to advise my mother about her “overprotective” attitude toward me. Now – so my therapist says – she would be diagnosed as having a personality disorder (BPD), her controlling parenting but one symptom of a broader pathology. I think we should acknowledge that where other indicators are present – intrusiveness, depression, manipulation – “overprotective” parenting may be cause for great concern.

    I can’t think of how many times concerned third parties told me to assert myself with my mother – only to have the sick dynamic turn more dysfunctional.

  8. Hi Dr Robyn,

    Thanks for the article. My parents are over-protective too. Perhaps because I’m an only child and my parents, by themselves, don’t have a good relationship (they told me that they married because they were afraid of being alone in old age), they worry about losing me and focus much of their efforts on taking care of me.

    When I was young, I was never allowed to attend any camps, unless it was absolutely compulsory. Even then, my mum did not believe that the school mandated that all students had to attend. She would imagine that I was lying and that I joined simply because I wanted to have fun and that I was being playful.

    Now that I’m in my twenties, I’ve had some successes in overcoming her protectiveness, e.g. I have gone on holidays abroad alone with friends. However, I still find that even for these things that other friends seem to have no problems with, I have to beg and sometimes even cry, before my dad would relent. My mum typically continues to be glum until I return from the holiday, making me feel guilty abt it.

    I would very much like to move out, but my mum has recently been diagnosed with cancer. I’ve been advised by my friends to stay put. I feel resentment for my parents, especially when I realise that my career is going nowhere because I often have to take leave to accompany them on their medical appointments.

    I also worry for my mother. She is a kind woman at heart. Although she is in remission, I feel that the controlling aspect of her personality makes it hard for her to relax. My dad and her have communication problems, often leaving me stuck in between or having to help them negotitate. He would ignore her or yell at her to shut up when she nags, which only makes her more upset. She can nag repetitively for hours on smth that appears quite trivial to me, such as my dad mixing the laundry up, when some of it shld be separated.

    My question is, how can I help my parents to communicate better? And how can I help them to understand that by doing things for me, and trying to control my social life (e.g. I’m already 27, they still call me when I don’t get home by 11 pm) … how can I help them understand that in many ways, this has affected my development as an adult?

    Their behaviour makes me feel smothered. I have difficulties, especially in expressing myself in love relationships. Sometimes, I wonder if they were to pass on – they’re already in their seventies – I’m not sure whether I will have the courage to live on, because I’m an only child and don’t really have any close relatives to turn to. My friends are pretty supportive, but many of them have married, and I don’t want to intrude on their lives. Though we were all pretty even back when we were younger, I feel that my friends now seem more mature than me in terms of their EQ.

    Thanks,
    Cath

  9. Hi Cath-

    You certainly have a lot on your plate. One thing is for sure– you have a very clear idea of the problems and struggles you are facing– you have not buried them– and that is very mature of you.

    There comes a time in so many of our lives when we need a little more support than what friends or even family can provide. It;’s normal and healthy. We need an outside view and to be able to talk things out with someone who listens– and yet is not emotionally invested int eh outcome.

    For this reason, and because you are so focused and clear yet uncertain at the same time, I would suggest that talking to someone outside of your family and friend circle– perhaps a counselor– would be an amazing opportunity for you to come up with a plan of action and a way to best handle your current situation. You deserve to find someone who can help guide you and hear the whole story. You deserve undivided attention and practical advice.

    Would you be willing to try that? I hope so. It’s important for you to deal with this now rather than waiting any more years. After all, we don’t get unlimited time here.

    Please let us know what you decide to do. We’re behind you and hope you will invest in yourself so that you can move on with confidence.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Robyn

  10. Reading this artical (and others like it) has led me to believe that I am actually a child of so-called “helicopter parents”.

    Honestly, debilitating is a good word for it. Annoying too. I mean, I’ve actually BEGGED my parents to let me do my own laundry, but was denied because “you cant cuz everyone’s laundry is done at once” blah blah blah. I could just do the whole load was my answer and to that I get “e-eh–nawww, thats not a good Idea!” ….

    As you’ll see from my site, I’m an artist, and I actually think the reason I AM is because I gained a sense of freedom from it. How I found this site was cuz I NOW feel like my parents have took THAT away from me cuz for some reason they have a giant wall devoted to my artwork now….so it feels like its something they ENCOURAGED me to do….GAHH! I wan out of this house!!!

    so yeah, I agree, debilitating is a good word for it 🙂

  11. Hello Rob-

    First, I’ve checked out your site and can see you are a very talented person! Congrats on your great work and finding your passion.

    It’s frustrating when parents want to do so much. I can hear, from what you’re saying, that they clearly love you and care for you– but you are feeling smothered.

    Sometimes, we just throw up our hands and say “forget it” and cave in. However, other times, we need to take more action. The only person’s behavior you are in control of is your own.

    You may want to call a meeting with you and your parents and express your feelings there. NICELY. Talk about how appreciative you are of their interest and their love, but you would like to do somethings that make you feel more like a responsible man rather than a child….and here are a few things– and then discuss them. They may not fully understand why you feel you want to do the laundry– or why you want to do other things similar to that.

    Because we aren’t in control of other people’s behaviors, you could make some changes on your own– for example, if your parents won’t let you do your laundry in your house, take it to a laundry facility and do it there. However, I would take the “talking approach” first– sitting down with your parents and having a responsible, clear conversation– before doing this type of thing because it could come off as passive aggressive otherwise.

    Hmmm. As far as the art goes– I don’t know that you’ll win that debate. The reason why? They’re proud of you. They may do it in an over-the-top way but many parents don’t acknowledge their children talents at all so at least in that sense, you’re lucky. I hear you that it’s annoying– but I probably wouldn’t fight for less “pride” when it comes to your art work, and instead, focus on the other things that are bothering you when you speak to your parents. Make sense?

    Let us know when you do it. Remember, these are people who love you– so be gentle but firm. Tell them what you would like to do to help you grow up into the responsible man you want to be– be clear about what you want– and appreciative and grateful for how they’ve helped you.

    Good luck-
    Dr. Robyn

    • My dad is over proctective of me, he mainly controls my life. im already 19 years old. i can understand that he cares about me very much, but the way he treat me is almost like a 15 years old, i only have abit of freedom, im not allowed to go out with my friends *during the night, most of my friends would go out during the night*, im always feeling lonely ,he keeps a copy of my time table in his room so he knows what time i start and finish, im not allowed to drive, if i want to get a job he would say im not ready and whenever i go out with my friends he always ask me ” what time you coming back, where you going, who your going etc…* i feel dont have any confident, self- system, always think negative and most of the time i just cry when one is around

      whenever we have a conversation i would cry, before my dad would relate the subject. i find it really hard to express my honest feelings to him because he would say the true but it always turn out negative when i have a problem it really hard to talk to him because i feel it something will turn out bad *dont know why*.

      i do talk to my friends and outside the family about it, but it doesnt really helps because they just say the same thing
      i dont really know who else to turn to >=(

      • I know how you feel! I’m not the author of this article, but I think I should step up on this one. Your father really seems to be over protective of his “li’l Honey” I’m sure, and he does care very much about you. I’m a parent and I just want to say that there are three things that he is VERY worried about.

        1- Sex. Yep. I said it! It’s a very life changing thing for a person, and he’s worried that it’ll harm you, or that the person you sleeping with is going to hurt you. Chances are you love the person, and nothing like that would ever happen, but he’ll still worry!

        2 – Drugs. I know, I know, kinda silly, but really… Their is a LOT of that stuff going on, and he doesn’t want to see the pain that even THINKING about it can do to you.

        3 – He doesnt want to tell you that he’s worried and if he admits his babys grown up, he’s gonna cry, and that’s just not MANLY or however men see crying….

        The only advice I can give you is to confront him. Tell him your a big girl now, and that you need to live you OWN life. It’ll be difficult, for both of you. But seriously, he does need to know how you feel. He’s always going to worry about you, but if you prove that you CAN stand up to him, that in itself is enough to prove that you can Stand up for yourself. and trust me, he’ll be so happy for you in the end. ^_^

        ~Mikki

  12. […] This week, we’re concentrating on Helicopter Parents because of the number of questions and letters I’ve received on the topic lately from our readers. The letters in this series are all taken from the comments section of one of my most popular articles; “Overprotective Parents: Helpful of Harmful?” […]

  13. […] continuing our discussion about helicopter parents, overprotective parents who won’t let go and hover over the heads of their children, heading […]

  14. Hi Dr Robyn

    My wife and I disagree on where to draw the line when it comes to childproofing our home. My three year old is somewhat prone to accidents like other kids his age and my wife and her family are from the “A few bumps on his head will help him learn what he shouldn’t do” school. I am not sure that that is the best approach for a 3 year old. I believe in supervision since you can never predict how hard he is going to bump his head. I am all for scraped knees etc but am wary of a casual approach towards vital organs. What is a good age for letting kids monkey around in playgrounds etc?

  15. Hello Amar-

    This is a tough and very personal decision. There is no “right” answer.

    However, you and your wife must come to a conclusion that you are both comfortable with– you must give a little– and so must she.

    As the last of 3 children (and the only girl), I wanted to be just like my brothers. I romped around the playground and certainly had my fairshare of bruises, pumps, and cuts. Yes, they are part of growing up.

    Children should be taught what behavior is appropriate and inappropriate on the playground so that when heads are turned they keep following the rules– but mistakes are going to happen. What are your rules? Have you discussed them with the family? Rules should have to do with safety and fairness. This is a good place to start.

    Children do learn from doing– so you want to weigh your rules with what’s reasonable. Again, this is something only you and your wife would know. Safety always needs to be a priority but then again, how can a child learn how to be safe if he isn’t able to make some judgment calls, within reason (and with limits)?

    Hope this helps-
    Dr. Robyn

  16. Hi Dr Robin,

    Think I’m also a child of a pathologically overprotective parent. I am, however, in my early 20s. I live with my mother as my parents are divorced and things have got really bad lately. My sister and I are treated like 13 year olds. When we go out our mother calls us every 30 minutes to check up on us. Recently I had 96 missed calls on my cell when I didn’t reply. She has also threaten to send the police to the club we go to and has slapped and shouted at a guy (friend) who brought my sister and I home. Could you please give some suggestions about what we should do? We have already tried talking but she doesn’t want to understand. She thinks that what she does is right.

    Thanks

  17. My mom is way too overprotective, especially my dad. Its aggravating sometimes

  18. I’m having problems about my mom. I’m 21 and she still won’t let me go on overnight trips. Please advise me. I’m beginning to think it’s affecting my mental health.

  19. here’s another thing… i didn’t get even a single change to go swimming this summer. she didn’t let me go anywhere… even in places in the same province i’m in, considering my country, philippines is so small…

  20. here’s another thing… i didn’t get even a single change to go swimming this summer. she didn’t let me go anywhere… even in places in the same province i’m in, considering my country, philippines is so small…

  21. Hey Dr Robin

    I am 18 years old, and I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t have a license and I don’t have a job. I am totally dependant on my parents. My dad is extremely overprotective. Sometimes I feel that he is deliberately holding me back from getting my lisence, because he hates it when I go out of the house and he prevers driving me to places himself. He wouldnt let me ride with my friend who already has hers. Lately I feel that I would rather not go out at all than have him drive me evrywhere, because he still makes me feel guilty for going out, as if I am letting him down or betraying him.

    I have tried to talk to him but he doesnt take anyof my opinions to mind. He knows he is overprotective, but it doesnt bother him, as lng as I’m savely within his reach.
    Also, I don’t want to tell him how I feel cuz it will break his heart and I fear that he will resent me. And I try to avoid the reality. I am scared of losing my friend because I dont spend enough time with them, and by the time I move out it will be too late.

    I feel that I’m not able to live a happy and eventful life, like normal people my age. If ist is wrong of me to feel this way, please tell me, but what can I do to fix this, without breaking my dads heart?

  22. Well as I read over on what you wrote and what the topic points out I have to agree fully that they do exist. I’d say I might be the youngest person whose commented on this site. Truth be told I’m only a 14year old girl. I don’t really like the fact that there are overprotective parents out there, but I do know that they could be doing this because they love us and want to see us grow up in a safe environment. Though of course nothing goes as exactly planned. I have over protective parents and they both can be pretty annoying at times. I also have an older sister who’s about 20 years old and they won’t even let her date guys! /=o They said to me that I can’t date until I’m 24 and that’s only on a double date. T_T Though the thing that really backfires on parents who are overprotective is that the child might feel a lack of faith from the parents, or it might cause a spark of rebellion in the child causing the child or teen to commit crimes or go to drugs and friends for relief. For me, well I just look up sites on the internet to see what the professionals have to say about this topic. I mean I’m not really allowed to go outside my own house unless it something that’s related with school or church. So to put this in a simple sentence. I got to the internet or television to blow off steam, but right now I really want to at least go out and exercise. Well thats about it. Man I feel better after writing this! =3 If anyone reads this please comment your thoughts about this topic!

  23. I came across this site for a paper I’m writing for school, actually, and I found it very intriguing! I am an adopted child, and my adoptive mother is.. er was… extremely over-protective. We even lived in a very small town simply so she knew where we were at all times. Thankfully, I like to say that I”m “Grown-up”. I may only be 21 years old, but I am married, have two children, and even own my own home! Sadly, I’ve had to cut most of my ties with my parents, simply so I could live my life, the way I wanted to. Although it hurts to know that I’ve hurt them, the feeling of being my own person, after the 13 years I lived with them, for the first time!

    I wish I could say the same for my husband. It’s an unusual day for us if he hasn’t communicated with his mother. He consults with her, sometimes even before me, with almost every decision we have to make. It’s like he still needs her permission to do anything! I’ve confronted him about this issue, and he doesn’t see that it’s a big deal. He is, at least, talking to me first about most things.

    It’s just really frustrating. I’ve sacraficed a whole lot for us to be adults, and it seems he’s hardly done anything at all.

    The last issue is well, if he makes his mom made, LOOK OUT! And we’re out a baby-sitter..

    >.<

    • hi mikki thank you for the comment i’ll take it on board.

      i just want to say about the 3 bulletpoints you made

      1″- Sex. Yep. I said it! It’s a very life changing thing for a person, and he’s worried that it’ll harm you, or that the person you sleeping with is going to hurt you. Chances are you love the person, and nothing like that would ever happen, but he’ll still worry!”

      first of all ive never fall in love with a person. The chances of me sleeping with a another person is very doubtful because i dont beileve sex before marriage!

      2 – “Drugs. I know, I know, kinda silly, but really… Their is a LOT of that stuff going on, and he doesn’t want to see the pain that even THINKING about it can do to you”.

      Drugs- when did your mind come across with that. i’ll never take drugs or self harm because it wont change how i feel and it wont change the situation im in.

      3 – “He doesnt want to tell you that he’s worried and if he admits his babys grown up, he’s gonna cry, and that’s just not MANLY or however men see crying…. ”

      i know he’s worried about me because he told me before and no my dad doesnt cry to see his child growning up

  24. I apologize for the spelling and gramatical errors! ^_^;

  25. […] creating a pattern of quitting that is being supported by their parents.  Sometimes, we are just too overprotective or too easily swayed by our children’s attempts to get out of fulfilling their promises. […]

  26. I am now in my early twenties and so is my older sister. I am still in college and my sister just graduated with a B.S. We are still living with my parents, and when we want to go out with friends, we still have to ask before we leave. Even when our relatives ask us to go somewhere, my mom demands that they ask her first before asking us. Is this normal? For my older sister, if she already went out with her friends once within a week, she cannot go again until another two weeks. For me, I cannot go again until at least another month. My sister and I talked to my mom about this, but she claims that since we live under her roof, we live under her rules, and if we do not accept her rules, we should move out, but if we were to step one foot out of the house, that means we do not want to be a part of this family anymore and we can never come back. I love my family and still want to be a part of it, but I cannot stand her rules. There are so much! But if I were to move out, that means I cannot be a part of this family anymore. My sister may have a bachelor degree, but her maturity level is still like a kid, and I believe it has to do with how my parents treat us like kids and are not letting us become adults. What can I do? It’s so embarrassing to say no to my friends when they invite me to go somewhere simply because my parents are not allowing me to go. I need help!

    • Hello- I totally understand where you are coming from. My mother is the same way ( I mean its sad I’m desperately surfing the internet in the hope of finding some kind of magical formula to change or at least ease the situation…I’m glad I’m not the only one=)
      Well I’m a bit younger than you are, I’m a few months from my 18th birthday, but still I don’t consider myself a child. I’m about a month away from moving away from home to start college (UCLA!) & I will have so much more freedom but it is going to kill me to have to come home and be kept in a box once again. Its horrible because I don’t know why my mom is so …”overprotective”- I mean I don’t know what more I could do- I volunteer, sing in the church choir, graduated as a valedictorian of my class…i really tried- I’m hoping once I go to college and survive she’ll start to treat me as a person! I mean i’m not going to get married for her to see me as an adult (which is what I know a lot of chicana/latino girls do…) Maybe I’m more of a rebel but if she doesn’t change then I will leave (move out) and hope she snaps out of it and finally accepts me and my life. I don’t want to go out and party every night, but I would like to occasionally go out and study with a group of friends without having to cancel all my other outings for the week… I love my mom and my family, nothign will make me stop lovng them , and calling, but I will leave if my mom doesn’t grow-up. I have enough insecurities and fears of my own without hers added to the mix!…sorry Kim I didn’t mean to rant =) But you aren’t the only one…I’m hoping time and ..more time will help.(If not I’m bringing in a therapist!…last resort is out I go..to the cold cruel world..on my own…..but hopefully time =-)

      • Hi Jennifer,

        I’m glad you know what I’m talking about! My first year of college was living away from my parents too and it was the best time of my life bc I could go out with friends without having to ask for my mom’s permission. However, be careful, bc I had a little too much fun and forgot about my studies. I never partied or anything like that, but just being able to go to the mall or having dinner with friends is a good enough distraction. I never wanted to say no bc i know that once i’m back with my parents, I would have to say no to my friends all over again and i hate that.

        Would your parents let you move out and be okay with it? With my parents, they would disown me! One foot out the door, and I can never come back. Like you, I was a good student in high school too. I have a scholarship to ASU, I never even sipped alcohol, and I also volunteer at my church and sing in my church choir. I even help out with my mom in Sunday class. But my mom still won’t let me grow up. How can they expect us to grow and be independent if they won’t let us go?

        I wish you good luck in school and remember not to take advantage of your freedom too much like how I did. But do enjoy it and use it wisely! 😉

  27. Oh, and we are Vietnamese, so I first thought that this was the reason why my mom is so complicated, but my friends who are also Vietnamese do not have strict parents like I do. So maybe it is because we are Vietnamese AND because we’re Catholic…?

  28. I have protective parents too. And I’m 27. My dad still treats me like a baby and worries a lot about me and my mom has a tendency to hover and run every aspect of my life. It’s embarrassing and I wish my parents would’ve allowed me to grow up. I’m engaged too but my parents think I’m too young to be married, and my parents, and much older brother, still treat me as just their daughter, little sister. And not me as a couple with my fiance. I wish they would treat my fiance like family. This isn’t normal for a 27 yr. old woman.

  29. Wow–

    It looks like we’re going to have to explore this topic further– perhaps do a teleseminar series to discuss it more in depth on the phone?

    Dr. Robyn

  30. Yes, I would like that. How would we do that? I am looking for your email address, but I can’t seem to find it.

  31. I have recently moved in next door to a couple of “helicopter Parents” though the father is the worst.
    The little girl who is 5 often tries to talk to me through the fence and the father always says something to block it or he tells her what to say and makes an excuse to take her inside.The last time he actually said, “Anna, Mind your own affairs now and just say hello to the lady.” A little while later she tried to talk to me again and he called to her from the upstairs window where he had evidently been listening to our conversation. She has posted a couple of drawings through my fence and while they just look like random scribbles I can’t help thinking that she is trying to make contact with someone on the outside.She is never allowed to play out the front with the other kids unless her dad is stationed out the front watching her every move and running his interference across the kids games. I know that if I was a parent of small children in this street it would worry me that he is also watching my children.
    One the face of it the couple seem like conscientious parents and it may be that they don’t approve of me but he’s South African and she is Slovakian and they have no friends or family visiting and although this is a nice street with lots of nice families they don’t really mix. In fact one day when I was seeing off one of my visitors and started chatting to the wife he came and sat down in the chair next to her which was between her and me and he just stared into the middle distance making it quite clear by his body language that he didn’t want me talking to his wife.
    I’m mostly uncomfortable with the situation at the weekend when his wife works 12hr shifts both days.
    Last weekend there was a street party for the children and I was having a little house warming party to which I’d invited my neighbours.The little girl was kept in all the day with the doors and windows closed on one of the few sunny days we have had this summer. I live in Scotland where it rains most of the time and most people like to make the best of the good weather and all of the other children in the street were involved in the party.
    Part of me thinks that it’s none of my business and when I hear the little girl singing or playing quite happily I think I’m just imagining bad things about a decent chap who’s tring to look after his family as best he can.

  32. I’ll get back to you on it– but you can always get in touch with me through this blog or you can go to http://www.DrRobynSilverman.com and write to me from there.

    It’s a very popular and frustrating issue!

    Dr. Robyn

  33. I am 27 years old (born in 1982… so I guess that makes me a Millennial), but my parents still secretly frisk my belongings, check my mails, try to eve’s drop in my conversation with my friends, and want to keep a check on who I talk to! I tried to talk to them about it as patiently and persistently as possible, but in vain. Their common responses to anything I say are: We have sacrificed all our desires to bring happiness to you and whatever we do is for your good, so why do you criticize our concern for you? We did all that for you, only to be ungratefully criticized by you now? But if you get married, we can stop worrying about you, because then we will be sure that your husband will take care of you!

    I tried…. I tried very very hard to talk to them… to make them understand… I tried till I broke down completely… due to their habitual doubting every move of mine, complete lack of trust in me, incredible amount of interference, sometimes accusing me of lying (in matters which do not concern them in any way), absolutely not respecting my need for privacy, criticizing and blaming my friends (who are all very respectable and responsible) and comparing me with my sister who is barely 2 years older than me.

    Finally I just gave up…. recently I stopped talking to them! I just can’t help it anymore! I guess I will be able to have at least limited conversations with them only after I become financially successful (it’s not like I am irresponsible now… I have a Masters degree in Engineering, but don’t have a job currently due to the recession) and probably the situation may improve a bit more after I get married (if I do!).

    It’s not like I am not grateful to them… I am very well aware of their sacrifices and completely dedicate my current academic achievements solely to my parents. But I am deeply deeply hurt that they are not even trying to understand me, my feelings, my principles, just my basic way of life! Infact they are convinced that there is no need for them to understand me, because they are absolutely right (simply because they are parents!) and it is me who needs to change and become what they want to make out of me…which is my sister, who is a housewife with 2 kids, and does a great job as a homemaker. My parents don’t want me to become a housewife, infact they want me to be successful, but at their terms! It’s not like I have not tried to understand them…. but what am I supposed to do when they are completely unreasonable?

    The worst part is… my sister is turning out to be just like my parents. I am just shocked with the way she is bringing up her kids (who are not older than 4)! According to me, sometimes her level of protectiveness and command over her kids is just unacceptable! And I am terribly worried for her kids because I love them the most! But, again it was of no use when I tried to talk to my sister… she gave the exact same reasons as what my parents give… that she sacrifices so much for the kids and everything she does for them is for their betterment… so whatever she does for her kids can never be wrong!

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