Helicopter parents & divorce: the ugly side

Time Magazine and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, as well as the Washington Post all had features on this modern-day phenomenon, “the helicopter parent.” So what is a helicopter parent, first of all? In a nutshell, it’s a parent who hovers over his or her child the way a helicopter hovers over a particular object or space.  According to the AJC, this type of parent seems to win custody more often in divorce scenarios. Why would that be? Perhaps, simply because they appear to “care more about the kids” than the other parent and they seem more involved than the other parent. So courts are more likely to award a helicopter parent custody than they are to award it to a parent who seems more hands-off.
But is a helicopter parent necessarily the best parent to enjoy sole custody of a child? It seems there are more helicopter moms than there are dads, first of all. And we still live in a world where more moms than dads are awarded sole custody of children post-matrimony. And for the most part, this is a good thing. But there are new trends developing. And this issue of father’s rights, this movement for fathers to have a more equal stake in the custody of their children is growing by leaps and bounds. And so mothers are having to prove their “superior” parenting skills in order to win custody. Whereas it was a foregone conclusion in the past that the children are better off with mom, now, the courts are making mom prove it. And so, moms are turning into helicopters to get the edge over dads and for the most part, it is working.
That is not to say there are no helicopter dads. There are. And presumably, the point the AJC was making that which ever parent is more like a helicopter, that is the parent who is winning custody.
But, again, is this is the best interest of the child to have this hyper-present parent hovering over them 24/7? Some parents are so afflicted with this helicopter virus they won’t even send their children to regular school. They home school the kids. There is nothing wrong with homeschooling children. At all. I know many parents who have raised well-adjusted children who were home-schooled. But taken out of context, or mixed with other variables, this could be viewed as a form of helicoptering that is ultimately not good for the social development of a child. The studies are showing that children with helicopter parents are more dependent, less able to socialize with others, less adventurous and overall, less successful than children with parents who “left them alone.”
Being a helicopter parent post-divorce can also be bad for the parent’s personal life. That is because of the sheer hours it takes to be a helicopter. It is a time-consuming job that leaves little in the way of free time to socialize, date and have a love life. In actuality, the piece in the Washington Post implies that being a helicopter parent in and of itself can lead to divorce. Because helicopter parents have less time to spend with their spouse. So not only does it lead to divorce, but once you are divorced, being a helicopter parent can prevent you from finding a new mate.
One of the ultimate negative traits about parents with this parenting style is that post-divorce he or she will do anything to win custody, including falsely accusing the other parent of truly nefarious activities like child abuse and sex abuse. That probably happens because the parents so desperately want to have the child, that he or she sinks to lying on the other parent to gain the edge. It is a form of control, in other words; or worse things. Worse, in the sense that, it could all just be an act for the court just to win custody for pecuniary gains. So a parent like this becomes overly involved in the child’s life to show how much he or she cares, so that custody will be awarded to him or her. But at the end of the day, it’s about the money. Either one person wants the child support check or the other person doesn’t want to pay the child support. That, right there, is the ugly side of helicopter parenting that probably not one parent would ever cop to. But it’s true for some. It is true. It is the extreme fringe case, probably. But it does happen.