11 Signs You Had Helicopter Parents & It's Still Affecting You Today
While it's totally possible to escape from a less-than-ideal parenting situation unscathed, the way you were raised almost always affects, to some degree, how you feel and act as an adult. This is especially true if you grew up with helicopter parents. You know, the kind who were way too hands on. If yours "hovered" and coddled you 24/7, it may be showing up in the form of self-esteem issues and stunted "adulting" skills, among other things.
Now, I'm not saying your parents didn't have the best of intentions. Or that they should have let you do whatever you wanted. But that doesn't mean their approach didn't hold you back from becoming a bonafide adult. "A helicopter parent is a parent who is overly involved in the basic day-to-day aspects of their children's lives," Dr. Sanam Hafeed, PsyD, a NYC-based licensed clinical neuropsychologist, tells Bustle. "This may hurt kids as they grow up because they may not trust their intuition when meeting others ... They [also] often have arrested development and lower emotional consciousness."
While this parenting style can't account for everything you're struggling with, it may explain some of the issues you've encountered thus far in life. Do you have trouble making decisions? Or trusting yourself? Read on for some of the signs you have helicopter parents, and how it may be affecting you as an adult.
1. You Struggle To Make Your Own Decisions
If your parents called all the shots, it may have affected your ability to trust yourself. And that can, in many ways, affect your current ability to make decisions. "You need to look to others for approval or advice on decisions and actions," says psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez. And that can feel incredibly frustrating.
2. You Don't Always Take Initiative
As an adult, you should be able to stand on your own two feet in most situations. But if you had helicopter parents, it may feel extra difficult. "You expect someone to always be there over your shoulder guiding you and telling you what to do," Martinez says. "So you struggle with independence and personal initiative."
3. You Currently Lack Basic "Adulting" Skills
While this can definitely be turned around with effort, I bet started off adult life with a total lack of adulting skills. As Martinez says, "You do not possess many of the 'adult living skills' that many of your peers do, because things were always done for you." You might, for example, have no idea how to pay bills or do laundry. And cooking your own meals? Forget about it.
4. Your Apartment Is Always A Mess
In the same vein, you might really struggle with maintaining your apartment. As psychologist Dr. Crystal I. Lee tells me, it's not uncommon for children of helicopter parents to struggle with keeping a tidy home. This is all due to growing up in an environment where everything was done for you — including the cleaning.
5. You're Truly Afraid Of Failing
Nobody likes to fail, but this feeling can be especially strong if your parents expected you to win their approval with high grades and test scores. (Another thing helicopter parents live for.) As Hafeed says, "It may ... show up professionally with career stagnation or the opposite anxiety to perform at high levels to win approval of parents as an adult."
6. You Aren't Sure How To Chat With Others
If your parents policed your every move as a kid, it may have affected your ability to network and interact with others as an adult. As Hafeed says, "Signs you had helicopter parents growing up and that it's still affecting you today may include anxiety ... a feeling of isolation, and an inability to begin interactions with others." It may take some work to overcome, but it can be done.
7. You've Had Quite A Few Problems At Work
Helicopter parenting can hold you back in your career, due to all the decision-making issues above. "For a more specific example: at work you might be getting passed over for promotions because (possibly unbeknownst to you) your boss perceives you as needing too much hand-holding," Lee says. "You don't initiate taking on things and tend to play it safe." And your bosses can totally tell.
8. You Don't Know How To Schedule Your Time
Again, if your helicopter parents over-scheduled your life — as they are wont to do — it can have a profound impact. "Your helicopter parents probably decided how you'd spend the afternoon [among other things,]" Brett Graff, of The Home Economist, tells Bustle. When everything was always decided for you, it can make choosing what you want and deciding what to do feel impossible as an adult.
9. You Have All Sorts Of Anxiety Issues
Anxiety can have roots in plenty of things that have nothing to do with your parents. But their helicopter style likely didn't help. "The biggest symptom or struggle I see in my clients with helicopter parents is an elevated level of anxiety," says registered psychotherapist Victoria Donahue, MA, RP. "Their parents have tried to do whatever it takes to make them happy and help them succeed. On the other hand, they fail to provide their child the ability to tolerant uncomfortable emotions like sadness, anger, and fear. The inability to handle these emotions is often experienced as anxiety."
10. Your Self-Esteem Isn't What It Could Be
It may not sound like a big deal, but being given the room to figure things out on your own is so so important for kids. "Helicopter parenting prevents the child from learning to work through a task," Donahue says. "The child receives the message that their parent doesn't trust their ability to complete the task on their own. This hinders the development of confidence and self-esteem, impacting all facets of one's life."
11. You Can't Handle Your Emotions
Again, helicopter parents have good intentions. I mean, who wants to see their kid upset? But if they rushed in whenever you cried, their care may have backfired. "Since the parents are jumping in to prevent the child from failing or experiencing anger or sadness, they don't have the opportunity to learn how to cope with the stresses of everyday life," Donahue says. And, as a result, you may not know how to regulate these feelings as an adult.
If any of this sound familiar, Martinez tells me you can start turning things around by setting firm boundaries for yourself. If you still rely on your parents (which is another sign), decide today that you'll begin working on standing on your own two feet. From there, you can truly begin to feel like a grown ass adult.
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