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University Study Calling "Helicopter Parents" Disruptive

University Study Calling "Helicopter Parents" Disruptive



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio All of us, at one time, feel our parents hover over us too much. A new study points out just how much they do this.

They're called "helicopter parents," because they can often be heard saying things like: "What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you…?"

They're known for hovering over their children, and even people who had these kinds of parents say they do the same thing. One parent admits, "I have a 15- year-old kid. I'm a helicopter mom. I hover." Another says, "I want to believe that I have the kind of relationship with my child that he would want to tell me what he's doing. We all can hope."

A new study from the University of Texas at Austin says between 60 and 70 percent of parents engage in some sort of "helicopter" behavior. Psychologists say these parents can do a lot of damage to a young couple.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. David Gambles says, "I've counseled couples who end up, in a day, having more interaction with one of their parents then they do their own partner."

Gambles says resentment, bitterness and jealousy pop up and it's a Dr. Phil episode waiting to happen. "Especially in the other partner there's this sense of, you know, ‘Who are you married to? Is it your mom, or is it me?'"

Gambles says one reason why this happens is parents always see themselves as their children's mom or dad, and have trouble letting go of the reigns. But, he says there are ways to confront the situation before it gets ugly.

To illustrate a point for parents having trouble letting go, I'll be the parent and Dr. Gambles will be the kid that's trying to confront me about my hovering.

Nelson: "I guess I shouldn't love my kids at all, is that what you're saying?"
Dr. Gambles: "No."
Nelson: "I'm a terrible mother, is that it?"
Dr. Gambles: "No, you know, mom, I'm going to love you no matter what."
Nelson: "I should just curl up in a ball in the corner and whither away!"
Dr. Gambles: "I'm going to love you even if you're on the other side of the continent and I'll love you even if you don't call me but once a week. I'm going to love you better."

Gambles says one of the common complaints he gets from people is that they married a strong and confident person who turns into a quivering twelve-year-old when mom or dad calls.

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