Helicopter Parenting: Spotting the Signs in Adulthood

Krystal DeVille

father talking to his son on a grass.

In the landscape of parenting styles, ‘helicopter parenting’ stands out for its particularly intense approach to child-rearing. It’s easy to spot a helicopter parent at the playground—but what about when their kids grow up? You might be surprised to learn that the effects of helicopter parenting can follow into adulthood.

Understanding Helicopter Parenting

Understanding the signs of helicopter parenting in adulthood is important for anyone who wants to break free from their parents’ control. By recognizing these indications, individuals can take steps to overcome its negative effects and learn to make decisions for themselves.

What is helicopter parenting?

Helicopter parenting is a term that describes parents who are overly involved in their children’s lives. It can also manifest in many ways, such as over-involvement in schoolwork and constant monitoring of social activities. In most cases, it can even control a child’s career choices.

This parenting approach is often characterized by:

  • Hovering
  • Overprotectiveness
  • Micromanaging

The term “helicopter parenting” was first coined in the late 1960s, but it has become more prevalent recently.

Research has shown that helicopter parenting can lead to increased anxiety, low self-esteem, and a lack of independence in children. It can also lead to strained relationships between parents and children, as well as a lack of trust and communication.

Negative Effects

One of these consequences is that children who helicopter parents raise may struggle to become independent adults.

As children grow up, they naturally become more independent and start making their own decisions. As a result, this often leads to adults who struggle to break free from parental control and make independent decisions. Additionally, it can lead to feelings of:

  • Resentment
  • Frustration
  • Rebellion in adult children

It is important to note that helicopter parenting can extend beyond childhood and into adulthood. Parents who continue to micromanage their adult children’s lives can hinder their growth and development.

Key Indicators of Helicopter Parenting in Adulthood

Helicopter parenting is not limited to childhood, as some parents continue to exhibit these behaviors well into their children’s adulthood. If these behaviors are consistent and interfere with the adult child’s ability to live a healthy, independent life, it may be a sign of helicopter parenting.

Here are some key indicators of helicopter parenting in adulthood:

Constant Communication: Helicopter parents tend to be in constant communication with their adult children, often through multiple channels such as:

  • Phone calls
  • Text messages
  • Social media

Clearly, this can lead to feelings of suffocation and a lack of privacy for the adult child.

Over-Involvement in Decision-Making: Oftentimes, helicopter parents may continue to involve themselves in their adult child’s decision-making process, even when it comes to major life decisions such as career choices or relationships. In this case, it can resonate with a lack of independence and self-confidence in the adult child.

Lack of Boundaries: In addition to over-involvement, helicopter parents may struggle with setting and respecting boundaries with their adult child. This can manifest in behaviors such as:

  • Showing up unannounced
  • Going through their child’s belongings
  • Making unsolicited comments about their child’s personal life

Difficulty Letting Go: Such parents find it challenging to step back and allow their adult children to steer their own lives. This parenting style is associated with a lack of trust in their child’s ability to make their own decisions and can hinder their child’s personal growth and development.

Psychological Impact of Helicopter Parenting

girl holding head in light blue background.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos


Adult children of helicopter parents may struggle with independence and decision-making. They may have a difficult time making choices on their own, as they have always relied on their parents to guide them, potentially resulting in feelings of incompetence and diminished trust in their judgment.

Low Self-Esteem

Helicopter parenting can also contribute to low self-esteem in adult children. When parents are constantly hovering and micromanaging, it can send the message that their child is not capable of handling things on their own, thereby potentially fostering an internal narrative of insufficiency and eroding self-esteem.


For those who grew up under the meticulous watch of helicopter parents, anxiety can be a prevalent consequence. They may have a constant fear of making mistakes or not living up to their parent’s expectations, culminating in heightened stress and a sense of anxiety in their lives.

Keep in mind: It’s important for parents to be aware of the potential impact of their parenting style and to strive for a healthy balance between involvement and independence.

Ways to Deal with Helicopter Parents

two women mother and daughter talking to each other on a sofa.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Dealing with helicopter parents can be a challenging task, especially when they continue to exhibit controlling behavior in adulthood. Here are some ways to deal with helicopter parents:

1. Set Boundaries

It is essential to set boundaries with helicopter parents to prevent them from overstepping their boundaries. Encourage them to respect your decisions and space, and make it clear that you are capable of handling your affairs.

2. Communicate Effectively

Effective communication is key when dealing with helicopter parents. Be clear and concise about your needs and expectations, and listen to their concerns. In addition, avoid getting defensive or confrontational, and try to find common ground.

3. Seek Professional Help

If the situation becomes too overwhelming, consider seeking professional help. A therapist or counselor can help you navigate the challenges of dealing with helicopter parents and provide you with the tools to establish healthy boundaries.

4. Practice Self-Care

Dealing with helicopter parents can be emotionally draining, so it is crucial to prioritize self-care. Take time for yourself, engage in activities that bring you joy, and surround yourself with supportive friends and family.

The table below aims to provide a balanced approach, highlighting the responsibility of both parties in overcoming the effects of helicopter parenting.

Key Indicators/Effects of Helicopter ParentingSolutions for Adult ChildrenSolutions for Parents
Constant CommunicationSet specific times for phone calls or meetings.Respect the adult child’s schedule and communication wishes.
Over-Involvement in Decision-MakingPolitely assert decision-making independence.Allow space for the adult child to make and learn from decisions.
Lack of BoundariesClearly communicate personal boundaries.Understand and respect the adult child’s boundaries.
Difficulty Letting GoReinforce autonomy through actions and decisions.Practice stepping back and observing adult child’s autonomy.
DependenceTake on more personal responsibilities step by step.Encourage the adult child’s self-reliance skills.
Low Self-EsteemSeek out experiences that foster self-empowerment.Express confidence in the adult child’s abilities.
AnxietyDevelop stress-relief and management techniques.Be supportive without being intrusive.

For adult children, it suggests direct actions they can take to establish independence and improve self-esteem. For parents, it focuses on the importance of respecting boundaries, expressing confidence, and ultimately trusting in the capabilities of their adult children.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common traits of overprotective parents?

Overprotective parents tend to be highly involved in their children’s lives, often excessively. Other traits involve:

  • Micromanage their child’s schedule, activities, and social life
  • Overly critical or demanding
  • May struggle to let their child make their own decisions
  • May have difficulty allowing them to experience failure or disappointment

What are the long-term effects of helicopter parenting?

Research suggests that helicopter parenting can have a number of negative long-term effects on children, including increased anxiety, decreased self-esteem, and a lack of independence. Children of helicopter parents may also struggle with:

  • Decision-making
  • Problem-solving skills
  • May have difficulty forming healthy relationships

How can helicopter parenting affect adult children’s relationships?

Adult children of helicopter parents may struggle with intimacy and communication and may have difficulty setting boundaries or asserting their needs in relationships. They may also struggle with trust issues and may be more likely to experience conflict in their relationships.

What are some signs that you may be a helicopter parent?

Indicators that you might be overly protective as a parent are if you find yourself deeply involved in your child’s life. Additionally, if you have a hard time stepping back to let your child navigate their choices, or if you find it challenging to watch them encounter setbacks or letdowns.

What can adult children do to set boundaries with helicopter parents?

Adult children of helicopter parents may benefit from setting clear boundaries with their parents, such as

  • Limiting communication
  • Setting specific times for interaction
  • Seeking support from a therapist or counselor

How can helicopter parents learn to let go and trust their adult children?

Helicopter parents may benefit from working with a therapist or counselor to develop strategies for letting go and trusting their adult children. This may involve activities like:

  • Practicing self-care and stress management
  • Learning to accept that their child is capable of making their own decisions
  • Letting them handle their own challenges

Wrapping Up – spread awareness ABOUT helicopter parenting

mother and daughter holding hands and talking to each other.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

While helicopter parenting may originate from a place of love and concern, it is essential to recognize its potential to hinder the growth and independence of children into adulthood. The signs of overbearing parental influence can manifest in various ways, leading to an adulthood with anxiety, low self-esteem, and a pervasive sense of dependence.

Ultimately, by raising awareness of the signs and impacts of helicopter parenting, society can encourage a more balanced and healthy approach to raising children. It empowers parents to guide their children towards independence and resilience, ensuring they are equipped with the skills and confidence necessary to navigate the complexities of the world on their own.

About Krystal DeVille

Hello! I’m Krystal DeVille. By day, I wear many hats: a homeschool teacher, wife, and mother. By night, I’m a fervent journalist, pouring my thoughts and experiences onto paper. Parenthood, for me, has been an exhilarating roller-coaster filled with emotions, invaluable lessons, and moments of sheer joy. With three wonderful kids of my own, I’ve journeyed through the highs and lows — from sleepless nights to their very first steps and those unforgettable proud parent moments.

Leave a Comment