When A Parent is Parented {Helicopter Parenting Adult Children}

Our parents will always be OUR parents. But when do you draw the line at being actively parented in adulthood?

It’s a tale as old as time and seems to be a theme across all cultures. Parents involving themselves in their adult children’s lives in different ways. It seems some parents take it a step further and feel the need to actively parent their independent, adult children well into their thirties. It doesn’t matter how often we remind our parents that we are grown, independent, working (or staying home with kids), paying our bills, and taking care of our families, they still feel the need to tell us how to run our households and care for our children and spouses. Do they think we don’t know how to do anything correctly without their guidance every minute of the day?

I don’t understand why some parents do and say the things they do to their adult children on a daily basis.

Helicopter parenting can present in many ways. It could be multiple phone calls a day to ask how you are feeling, what you are doing (working, duh), what your children are doing (oh – I’m letting them play in the street during five o’clock traffic), and what your husband’s day was like ( I don’t know, he’s still at work and I haven’t spoken with him since early this morning). Or it can end in your parents having tantrums because you won’t let them do what they want to do with your children. It can also damage your relationship with your parents and siblings as resentment and frustration take center stage.

You are not alone.

When did parents feel the need to actively parent their independent, successful, adult children? Has it always been like this? Or is this something new? Did our grandparents do this to our parents? Why do our parents question everything – including medical professionals’ diagnoses and treatment plans for us and our children? It’s absolutely wonderful that most parents are very involved in their grandchildren’s lives, but we don’t need to be constantly pestered parented – we do that enough with our children and spouses, thank you very much.

No one wants to be micromanaged by their parents.

Maybe you are micromanaged at work – you definitely don’t need or want to be micromanaged at home too. That makes for a stifling situation that will not end well. While parents may think they are coming from a good place with all their “suggestions” on how you should do things as a spouse and parent, it can become exhausting for us kids. Repeatedly dealing with the fallout of not following your parent’s “advice” can be emotionally exhausting. No one wants to walk on eggshells when speaking with or spending time with their parents. That’s not good for anyone. Kids notice the tension. What could have been a nice, relaxing visit with the grandparents becomes a conversational mine field of topics to avoid.

The guilt trips are unnecessary.

If you ever want to make someone feel undermined and truly idiotic at any time in their life, attempt to micromanage them and question EVERY decision they  have every made. Did you take your medicine last night? Why are you doing [any activity] that way? Why are you denying me the need to override your decision making as a parent? Believe it or not, we do have to make our own mistakes to learn and evolve. You can’t stop us from making mistakes or having hardships in life. It’s just not possible.

Tips for helicopter parents.

While it may be difficult to accept that your adult child has shut you down, told you no or is not momming or wifing the way you think they should, you have to let them live their own life. You cannot always involve yourself and try to “fix” it for your children or their spouses. The parenting game has changed a lot in the last 20-30 years and we all have to find our own balance of parenting and nurturing independence in our children. Let us do that in a way that is as stress-free and judgement-free as possible. Don’t second guess your adult children’s decisions just because it is not what you want them to do. Sit back, relax and enjoy your time with your children and grandchildren.

In the end, you raised us. Let us raise our children and manage our families the way we feel is best for us.


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