Carlsbad Family Law Attorneys

Helicopter Parenting: How Over Protection Can Negatively Affect Children

It’s natural to want to be involved with every aspect of our kids’ lives. It is also a natural thing to want to protect your kids from struggle or adversity.

Yet, somewhere along the line, parents began getting a little too overprotective with their children, almost to the point of smothering.

Now, this overprotective parenting trend, known as helicopter parenting, is showing signs of causing detriment to children’s well-being and is leading them to become ill-adjusted adults.

Cartoon image of parents looking over child

What is Helicopter Parenting?

The concept of helicopter parenting came into being with a book titled Parents & Teenagers written by Dr. Haim Ginott back in 1969. In the book, Dr. Ginott described a teenager who complained that his mother kept hovering over him, much like a mechanical whirly bird.

The term “helicopter parent” was actually coined in 1990 by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. The term then gained notoriety in the 2000s when college administrators began using the term to describe the worsening trend of parents intervening in their children’s affairs even after they’ve moved out of the family home and gone off to attend university.

The administrators blamed baby boom parents for being overzealous with their child-rearing techniques. Examples of such parenting behavior included phone calls to their kids to wake them up in the morning so they wouldn’t be late for class, and complaining to professors about their children receiving poor grades.

The trend of parents intervening seemed to reach every industry. Camp counselors noticed parents’ inability to leave their children alone for one second, even to allow for a parent-free camping experience.

The problem seemed to follow kids through adulthood, with HR receiving sick-calls from overbearing parents and law and business school admission offices receiving parent calls in efforts to stack the selection process in their kids’ favor.

The term helicopter parenting became so popular that the moniker became an official dictionary entry in 2011. Other similar terms include lawnmower parenting, bulldoze parenting, and cosseting parent.

However, despite what you call it, concept remains the same: Parents who feel the need to control every aspect of their kids’ lives in an effort to shield them from hardship.

However, in an effort to protect our children, researchers are now finding that helicopter parenting kids may have the opposite effect in the long run.

Helicopter Parenting from Toddlers to College and Beyond

Over the years, the term has been applied to parents at all aspects of a child’s development. Parents of toddlers, for instance, are accused of being helicopter parents if they are constantly shadowing their children or otherwise directing their behavior without giving them any time to themselves.

Those with school age children may go above and beyond to ensure their children get assigned a particular teacher or head coach. Helicopter parents may call professors to inquire about bad grades, arrange their kids’ class schedules, and even manage their children’s exercise habits.

Other examples include selecting a kid’s friends and hobbies, as well as spending a disproportionate amount of time assisting with homework or other school projects.

Common Reasons Why Helicopter Parenting Exists

Why do parents become so overprotective? Experts believe the trend of helicopter parenting exists for a variety of reasons.

Fear of Consequences

We all want what’s best for our children. That means that if our kids receive poor grades, don’t make the team, or fail to get a good job, we might think the results could be disastrous for our children’s well-being.

Furthermore, if your child fails, you might believe that his or her failure reflects poorly on you. You might wonder if others think you’re a bad parent if your child doesn’t get exemplary school marks, doesn’t make the captain of the team, or fails to score that dream job.

Peer Pressure

Parents may become helicopter parents if they begin receiving peer pressure from other parents within their inner circle. This can cause parents to wonder if they’re not doing enough, often leading to them to do a little too much when it comes to child rearing.


Parents who grew up feeling neglected, ignored, or otherwise unloved may feel the need to helicopter parent in order to show their kids the affection they deserve. By excessively monitoring their kids’ lives, helicopter parents may feel like they can remedy the deficiencies they experienced in their own childhoods.

Anxiety Cartoon: Parents looking over child

Parents who worry about all the negatives in the world, the economy, and the job market may feel compelled to push their children in order to protect them. By hovering over their children and becoming deeply involved with their personal lives and development, helicopter parents may believe that they can shield their children from ever being disappointed or hurt in the future.

Why Helicopter Parenting Can Do More Harm than Good

According to research by the American Psychological Association and published in the Developmental Psychology journal, helicopter parenting has been shown to negatively affect a child’s ability to manage emotions or behavior, even long into adulthood.

Young children look to their caregivers for guidance to help them comprehend the emotions they may be feeling. For this reason, children require parents who will be sensitive to their growing needs and who will guide younger kids when emotional challenges prove to be too difficult to manage on their own.

This type of parenting helps kids become more self-sufficient while giving them the tools to manage their own emotional challenges as they grow older.

When parents hover or smother, the results seem to follow the child as he or she gets older.

For instance, researchers found that kids who have helicopter parents at age two exhibit poorer emotional and behavioral regulation skills all the way through to age five.

Conversely, children with parents who don’t hover and who reach the age of five tend to have better emotional control and less behavioral problems all the way through to age ten. This also leads the kids to be better at school and experience fewer social problems.

To prevent these types of problems, instead of helicopter parenting, researchers urge parents to speak with their kids about how to understand their emotions and by explaining the behaviors that may result from feeling various emotions, and the consequences of various responses.

Helicopter Parenting May Be Detrimental to Your Child’s Health

In addition to poor grades and more emotional problems, studies show that the trend of overprotective parenting may have contributed to the increasing rates of childhood obesity, anxiety, depression, as well as suicide.

Florida State University study backed up those claims when it found that helicopter kids are more likely to have health related issues all the way into adulthood. The researchers believe that this detrimental health effect is due to the fact that kids who are helicopter parented never learn to manage their own health, as their parents always told them when to go to sleep, what to eat, and when to exercise.

Comfort Issues and a Lack of Self-Regulation

Helicopter parents don’t tolerate discomfort very well. This is due to the fact that their parents shielded them from pain and prevented them from dealing with any type of hardship. Kids who were hovered over and handed everything their entire lives have become accustomed to dealing with immediate gratification.

Researchers believe this is why helicopter kids tend to be quick to reach for medication to resolve their issues like anxiety, and depression. When they feel the uncomfortable sensations of anxiety or depression, these kids want the discomfort gone now and without having to endure any type of wait.

In addition, because helicopter parents didn’t allow their kids much alone time as they were growing up, these kids have issues taking care of themselves as they grow older.

Not only do children of helicopter parents possess fewer skills to achieve their goals, they also lack the motivation and mental control needed to get the necessary tasks done. This can cause helicopter kids to experience frustration and most likely depression as they reach adulthood, where they’re more likely to use medication as a way to feel more in control and at ease.

Finally, researchers have found that overparenting young adults breeds poor coping skills, which can lead to increased stress and anxiety, as well as narcissism.

Are You a Helicopter Parent? Here are the Signs to Look For

  • You Never Leave Your Kids Alone for One Second

While young children should always be monitored, they should also be allowed to explore the world and play on their own without you constantly hovering over them.

Instead, give your kids time to themselves every now and again. You can still be close by, but try not to direct their behavior as they experiment with the world and everything in it.

  • You Never Let Your Kids Fail

Life is tough, but it’s even tougher if you lack the proper skills to cope with adversity. The thing is, these types of lessons can’t be taught by parents or even in a classroom. They have to be learned the hard way, through actual experience.

Instead of trying to shelter your kids from the pain of failure, try to let them experience failure all on their own. This teaches kids to face the pain and be tough, which in turn helps them become mentally strong adults.

  • You Quickly Get Involved When Your Child Faces Adversity

It’s normal for parents to want eternal happiness for their kids, but life doesn’t always work out that way. There will be times when your child will be scared, sad or frightened and you can’t be there. You can’t always shield your child from having these negative experiences or from feeling such strong emotions.

If your child comes home from school, crying that another child called them a name or otherwise made them feel sad, helicopter parents might be quick to get the other parent on the phone. Or, confront the parent in person.

Going to battle for your child is admirable but doesn’t prepare them for the future. Instead, try to prepare your children for times when they will face hardship or struggle. Tell them that feeling anxious and stressed is normal and can be used as fuel to bring a favorable outcome to any tough situation.

  • Field Trips Fill You With Dread

Field trips are fun and exciting excursions for kids where they can learn and experience new things in a structured and monitored environment. By all accounts, most field trips are completely safe and allow children a chance to get out of the classroom and acquire new skills.

However, helicopter parents might only think of all the dangers children can face during one of these school functions. Instead, try to allow your child the freedom to explore the world with his or her classmates and under the close supervision of teachers. This teaches your child independence, which is a valuable quality that can contribute to all areas of your kid’s life, especially in adulthood.

  • You Find Yourself Finishing Your Kid’s Homework

Your child brings home an assignment that’s due in two weeks. A helicopter parent might immediately get the teacher on the phone in an effort to better understand the specifics and to help their child gain an edge over the other kids.

However, this type of approach teaches children that their parents will always be there to figure out the “hard stuff.” Instead, provide encouragement and try to allow your children to figure out all school assignments on their own. Even if they don’t get the best grade, teach them to do their best. With hard work, next time, they may do better.

  • You Try to Excessively “Nerf” Your Child’s Environment

In an effort to shield their kids from trauma and pain, helicopter parents might ensure their kids only drink bottled water and never from a drinking fountain. Every aspect of their diet might be heavily monitored and controlled, and sports are a definite no-no, as injury could result.

The world is a frightening place. As a parent, the most you can do is teach your child to be aware of the dangers and not to act recklessly in the face of those dangers, which could then lead to injury or pain. However, you should try to allow your child to play sports and go on field trips and engage in other positive behaviors that can offer many rewards that permeate the child’s entire life.

  • You’ve Never Considered Allowing the Children to Help Around the House

Many helicopter parents don’t want their kids to cook meals because knives may be involved. Others don’t want kids cleaning around the house because of all the dangerous chemicals. When these children grow up, they’ll be less likely to know how to cook, clean, and otherwise take care of themselves without parent involvement.

Instead, it may be best to try and prepare your kids for adulthood very early on. Teach them cooking and cleaning and other domestic skills that can help them care for themselves even after they’ve left the family home.

  • You Watch Their Every Move – Even When You’re Not Around

Nanny cams are handy for checking in on caretakers every now and again, but helicopter parents may get a little carried away. They may find themselves watching babysitters all the time, even to the extent of ruining the experience of whatever event they hired the babysitter for originally.

Parents of young adults may find themselves monitoring their kids’ whereabouts with tracking apps, and college-age kids may have parents who continually check in on them, via phone, video streaming, and other means.

Instead, try to let your kids have freedom away from your prying eyes, especially as they grow older. Doing so lets them know that their parents may not always be around to protect them from harm, and they’ll begin to get a better understanding of how to watch out for their own well-being.

  • You Keep Helping Your Kids, Even After College

Helicopter parents are frequently calling HR departments to complain if their child hasn’t had time off or a vacation, or if they feel as though they’ve been unfairly treated. These parents may even call in sick for their adult “kids,” much to the frustration of management.

Instead, once your kids go off to college, try to see them as effectively “leaving the nest.” You can check in on them periodically and ask how they’re doing, but let them make their own decisions and live their own lives, particularly when it comes to work.

Whether it’s calling in sick or asking for a raise, those are adult responsibilities that should be handled by the adult, not their parent.

  • You Withdraw when Your Child Displeases You

While it is true that helicopter parents may be paying their children a little too much attention, the opposite can also be true at times. When the child does something that displeases the helicopter parent, such as receives poor grades, the parent may withdraw. This causes kids to fear failure on a deep subconscious level, as they feel that their parent may abandon them if they continue to act against the parents’ wishes.

Instead, be supportive of your children and let them experience failure all on their own. If they do something that displeases you, explain why you’re displeased and communicate the more favorable outcomes. This helps children better understand behavior, choices, and consequences and can prepare them for a healthier adult life.

How to Prevent Becoming a Helicopter Parent Cartoon of parents and child

You may wonder what steps you can take to avoid becoming a helicopter parent so your kids fare better as they grow older.

You can take solace in the fact that much of parenting is figuring things out as you go. You could plan to parent perfectly before the kids arrive, but you’ll soon see that most parents are winging it, and most of those children grow up to be well-adjusted, productive adults.

Whatever you do, allow your kids to fail and teach them that making mistakes is normal and okay. Show them that it’s worth reaching for your goals and how to maintain motivation as you follow the right steps on the path to those goals.

You can further your kids’ development by giving them opportunities to solve their own struggles.

Allowing your kids to fail every now and again does require a lot of effort from you, too. So, make sure you remain strong as you provide your children with the skills they need to become healthy and responsible members of society.

Are You Experiencing a Family Law Issue?

If you are going through a divorcechild custody issue, or other familial complication, you may want to shield your children from any hardship they may experience during this process as much as possible.

Instead of helicopter parenting, explain what’s going on in terms they can easily understand. Children can be more understanding than you think, especially when their parents remain calm and help them comprehend the changes they might undergo during the divorce or child custody situation.

You are encouraged to speak to your family law attorney, who can further help you discuss all important matters with your children so that they fare well throughout this complicated process.

Just know that you don’t have to be a perfect parent to be a good one. You don’t need to be overbearing, as kids will figure things out on their own if you give them the guidance and assistance they need.

If you need the help of an experienced attorney, get assistance from the experts in California family law at Griffith, Young, and Lass, now serving clients throughout Carlsbad, San Diego, and the surrounding areas. Call today for a free consultation.


Meet Our Team 

Honest. Fearless. Bold.
  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq., CFLS
  • Noelle J. Slattery, Esq.
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq.
  • Joshua Yee, Esq.
  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.
  • Lea Trojanowski, Esq.
  • Greyson Sharp, Esq.
  • Brittany Van Ryder, Esq.
  • Karissa Piralla, Esq.
  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS


    John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization. Prior to opening Griffith, Young & Lass, he worked as the managing partner of one of the largest family law firms in North County San Diego.
    John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS


    Catie E. Young excels in child custody cases and move-away trials. She has a unique approach to child custody cases and clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases. Since joining the firm, she has continuously brought her zeal and compassion to representing clients in child custody and domestic violence cases, and in December 2011, she became a partner at Griffith, Young & Lass.
    Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS


    Amy Lass, a certified family law specialist, was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting. Amy went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006.
    Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq., CFLS Shirin Asgari, Esq., CFLS


    Attorney Shirin Asgari has a broad spectrum of legal experience and has handled matters in family law, criminal law, business law, and national security law. Currently, she focuses on family law matters and is a strong advocate for the rights of her clients. She dedicates time and attention to the needs of each client and the unique circumstances their case presents.
    Shirin  Asgari, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Noelle J. Slattery, Esq. Noelle J. Slattery, Esq.


    Noelle J. Slattery, Esq. has a bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts/Acting from Emerson College in Boston and a Juris Doctor ...
    Noelle J. Slattery, Esq. Photo
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq. Eric Cowdery, Esq.


    Eric Cowdery earned his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees before earning his JD from Golden Gate University as part of the Honors Lawyering Program. He was admitted to the California Bar Association in 2013 and has been working diligently in the field ever since. Taking a personalized approach to each case, Eric Cowdery is committed to working with clients to help them through the often confusing and complex legal process of divorce.

    Eric  Cowdery, Esq. Photo
  • Joshua Yee, Esq. Joshua Yee, Esq.


    Attorney Joshua Yeereceived his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, from the University of California, San Diego. Joshua went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from University of San Francisco. His experience working with a local Certified Family Law Specialist solidified his desire to become a family law attorney. Since becoming an attorney, Josh has exclusively practiced in family law.
    Joshua  Yee, Esq. Photo
  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq. Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.


    Shaudi Malekzadeh is a Carlsbad family law attorney at Griffith, Young & Lass, advocating for the rights and interests of Southern California families in a variety of family law cases, such as child custody, alimony, spousal support, and the division of community property. She is committed to delivering effective legal representation to our clients, aggressively advocating for their legal rights, and offering compassionate legal advice.
    Shaudi  Malekzadeh, Esq. Photo
  • Lea Trojanowski, Esq. Lea Trojanowski, Esq.


    Lea Trojanowski is an attorney with Griffith, Young, and Lass, joining the firm in March 2021. Her pragmatic and level-headed approach to family law has allowed her to be successful in even the most emotional family law cases. Lea has effectively represented clients in a wide range of family law proceedings, but is particularly drawn to domestic violence restraining order cases.
    Lea  Trojanowski, Esq. Photo
  • Greyson Sharp, Esq. Greyson Sharp, Esq.


    Greyson Sharp received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from California State University, Fresno. After ...
    Greyson  Sharp, Esq. Photo
  • Brittany Van Ryder, Esq. Brittany Van Ryder, Esq.


    Brittany Van Ryder joined Griffith, Young, and Lass as a Bar Clerk in September 2022. She became an Associate Attorney at the ...
  • Karissa Piralla, Esq. Karissa Piralla, Esq.


    A San Diego native, Karissa earned a Bachelor's Degree in Communication from UCSD and a Juris Doctorate from the University ...

Our Results Speak for Themselves

Over 100 5-Star Reviews Throughout Our Social Media Platforms
  • The way John presented our case was pure genius with meticulous preparation and deliberate action in court.

    “We were referred to John Griffith at GYL by our former attorney. I specifically was looking for an aggressive attorney that would yield results. John, Josh, and the firm performed flawlessly, and did ...”

    - MoMo M.
  • I would highly recommend Griffith, Young & Lass to anyone looking for ethical, honest, hard-working and skillful lawyers.

    “I would highly recommend Griffith, Young & Lass to anyone looking for ethical, honest, hard-working and skillful lawyers (I would stress these are actually rare qualities within the legal industry and ...”

    - Scott G.
  • You cannot find a better law firm.

    “I cannot say enough good things about John Griffith and this law firm. Each person i interacted with was responsive, intelligent, thoughtful and professional. Attorney Griffith worked very hard to ...”

    - Michelle P.
  • It was the best decision I’ve made yet and hopefully, it will be yours too.

    “She doesn’t back down from anyone. It was the best decision I’ve made yet and hopefully, it will be yours too.”

    - Ian R.
  • Understanding, accessible, and I was very happy with the outcome of my case. If I could give a higher rating I would!

    “Easy to work with, forthcoming about the process, set realistic expectations, and always kept cost in mind.”

    - Jennifer P.
  • All three lawyers worked together on the issues surrounding my case, which helped greatly when I was in need of answers or support.

    “The GYL team is always prompt at returning calls & emails. From personal experience, I can tell you that they will not step away from your case until it's finished.”

    - Kelsey L.
  • I couldn’t have made it without them! I highly recommend them!

    “GYL has been an extraordinary support and backing in my divorce. Being a male in the military, the process for divorce and custody is difficult. GYL was extremely helpful, and I was able to full custody of my children. That alone is such a monumental feat.”

    - Frankie S.
  • Worth every penny! My custody case went as stress-free as it could possibly be.

    “I hate seeing anyone go through custody battles but if you’re in that situation and need someone who is trustworthy and great at what they do, then I swear this is the place to get the help!”

    - Emily B.
  • I highly recommend GYL if you are ever in need of a family law attorney.

    “No matter who I corresponded with they were always knowledgeable of my case and quick to respond.”

    - Kimberley F.
  • Highly professional and supportive in a very uncertain time in my life.

    “My clearance was granted without any additional issues. I'd recommend this legal team to any Soldier needing help with their clearance.”

    - K. Brooks
  • Always willing to listen to your concerns. I would highly recommend.

    “Compassionate and kind, however, he will fight for you and your best interests. He is calm and calculated and extremely smart.”

    - Ann M.
  • Extremely helpful, responsive, and reasonable and got the job done amidst tenuous circumstances.

    “She and her team were extremely compassionate, sensitive with me while concurrently advocating strongly on my behalf.”

    - Jeremy R.
  • I felt like she was practical and knowledgeable and most importantly, she listened.

    “The professional and succinct assistance was a much-needed breath of fresh air in the maze of hurdles and complications with our family law case.”

    - David R.

Why GYL? 

Turn to a Team that Does It Best
  • We're Leaders in Our Field

    From case planning to preparation, to superior courtroom presence, our clients can be sure that they will walk into the Courtroom prepared and with the best chance of success.

  • Client Centered & Results Oriented

    Our representation is tailored to the unique circumstances of each client. We deploy the GYL strategic case trajectory dynamic to ensure the best chance at success at the most reasonable cost. 

  • Brilliant, Hard-Working & Honest

    We don't believe in wasting our client's time and money. Helping people is what drives us to excel at our craft. We first identify the goals and interests of each client, we then develop an efficient and effective case plan aimed at achieving those goals.

  • Responsible & Ethical Practices

    We believe in a responsible and ethical practice and stick to our values regardless of the situation. We're transparent and don't just tell our clients what they want to hear, unless it's what we believe, even if it may deter them from moving forward. We stand by our team's expertise and will always be upfront and honest with our clients. 

Get Started Today

Fill Out the Form Below or Call 858-371-5569 to Speak with an Experienced Attorney
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.