Embrace Your Inner Helicopter


Have you ever been accused of “helicopter parenting”? If so, how did it make you feel?

Some parents turn as red as my new MAC Viva Glam lipstick when charged with the title. Conversely, extreme helicopter parents wear their wings proudly in the name of doing all things good and right for the sake of their children.

Madeleine Levine, a well-known American clinical psychologist, coined the term “helicopter parent,” in her book The Price of Privilege. However, since then the title has become a catch phrase with more negative connotations than positive.

Recently, the headmistress of a leading girls’ school in England warned that “helicopter parenting” is preventing children from “growing into healthy, self-sufficient adults.”

Vicky Tuck, the principal of the highly esteemed Cheltenham Ladies’ College, claims that helicopter parents do a disservice to their kids by stifling their self-sufficiency because they are constantly “hovering overhead, supervising and directing.”

Now, The Daily Telegraph, a UK-based newspaper, has taken the term “helicopter parenting” to new heights by dividing hovering moms and dads into three categories:

The Gunship Helicopter

According to the paper, this type of parent swoops down and fights battles for their kid, despite the child’s age. Meaning, said child could be in his 20s or 30s and mommy is still coming to his rescue. The gunship helicopter parent is the one teachers despise the most. Otherwise known as the “pushy parent”, the paper defines these moms and dads as the ones that do their child’s homework and argue with teachers about their kid’s less than stellar behavior in school.

The Traffic Helicopter

The paper qualifies this type of parent as one who “provides guidance for their children, and helps direct them to make appropriate decisions throughout their lives.” Translation: If you are going to be accused of being a helicopter parent, this is the category you want to be in. According to the paper, the traffic helicopter displays admirable traits, such as allowing a child to make his own decisions and showing him how to deal with the subsequent consequences.

The Rescue Helicopter

The function of this kind of parent, according to the paper, is to either extract her child from a crisis and fly him to safety, or provide the necessary supplies to help him get back on his feet. The rescue helicopter parent tends to be the one who sends her kid care packages in college, and continues to do so well after the child marries. In addition, the rescue helicopter parent makes a habit of swooping in if the child gets in trouble and tries to make everything right without allowing the kid to learn from his mistakes. A classic example of rescue helicopter parenting would be writing your kid’s mid-term paper because he claims he has a headache and can’t get it done in time.

What type of helicopter parent are you?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.