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Whether it’s called ‘affluenza’ or helicopter parenting, stop hovering

Affluenza is a thing again, thanks to teenager Ethan Couch and his mother’s erratic parenting decisions.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s a ‘thing,’ I think it’s being created out of a parenting type,” said Christina Jimenez, licensed marriage and family therapist with Doorways in Phoenix. “That is we would as therapists call helicopter parenting or over parenting.”

Parents need to recognize where they are jumping in to help their child, Jimenez said. It is important for parents to be there when there is an immediate threat, especially in infancy and early childhood.

“But after a certain time, you need to allow your child to try to basically fend for themselves,” she said. “Give them opportunities to problem solve.”

If you are the parent that is overseeing all the activities that your child is doing, if you are constantly initiating issues in school without the child doing it their own, if you are readily blaming others for your child’s issues…Jimenez said you may want look at yourself and ask if you are over parenting.

There are some things you can do now to change this parenting behavior.

“The opposite to helicopter parenting is submarine parenting,” Jimenez said. “Instead of hovering over the child, taking this covert approach where you’re obviously watching for real danger, but you’re watching from afar.”

Teach your child to ask for help, verbally, she said. Teach the child that you are there to help them but that you want them to try to do things on their own.

Parents also need to learn to feel comfortable with their child’s disappointments. Many parents are more concerned with their child’s successes and failures than their child is.

“Making this consistent is going to show you their strengths and show you their capabilities,” Jimenez said. “And hopefully lessen your anxiety that they won’t be able to do on their own.”

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