Did you know that you might be a drone parent?
There is a good chance you don’t know what that means. But before I tell you, listen to this story and decide for yourself.
Let me introduce you to my fictional friend Sam.
He is 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. He gets decent grades and usually gets along with his family. However, he runs into some problems with his parents from time to time. Actually the truth is that Sam gets pretty heated and frustrated with them.
You see Sam’s parents are good people. They want to do what is best for their kids and they almost always have the absolute best intentions.
But, sometimes they let their fear and anxiety get the best of them.
So what do they do? They end up trying to micromanage Sam’s life. Sometimes they set up well-meaning rules that are too restrictive for a 16 year old boy.
They have high expectations, which you and I would agree can be a good thing. The problem is that they have little tolerance or understanding for any mistakes that Sam makes.
In fact, they want to make sure he doesn’t make any mistakes.
Sam’s parents won’t let him drive the car to school, even though he has his driver’s license and has been responsible. They won’t let him get a smartphone, so he tries to hide his old flip phone from his friends. They are worried about social media and video games, so they have rules that are more strict than any of Sam’s friends.
Not only that, but they check his grades with the online system EVERY day. And they grill him on his missing assignments EVERY day.
Sam’s parents would tell you that they are just trying to protect him and help him make good choices.
The trouble is that they are having a tough time making a very important transition. Sam is moving from being a child to being a young man. But, his parents are not quite keeping up with him.
I’m guessing that you have a better idea of what a drone parent is now. It is the modern version of what we all know as a helicopter parent. I purposefully didn’t Google “drone parent” so for all I know the phrase is my original creation. 🙂
I will tell you that there are some unexpected and unpleasant results from this well-intentioned parenting style.
Here are 5 reasons that you want to avoid becoming a drone parent.
1. You don’t allow your teenager to learn from his mistakes
Teenagers need to take risks and that is often how they learn. It is our job as parents to help them avoid disastrous mistakes. However, If you control almost every aspect of his life you are taking away these important learning experiences.
Your son needs to have the freedom to make small mistakes so that he can work through them in the context of a supportive family.
Take a step back and give him some room. You can warn him about what might happen, but let him make some choices on his own. Trust me, sometimes he will learn more from his experiences than your wise words. I know, sad, but true.
2. You will make your teenager angry
Of course, most teenagers would prefer to have no rules, no limits and no consequences. There are parents who give their teens a ton of freedom and it ends up being harmful. But that is not how you and I want to parent.
I guarantee that you have already set limits with your son that have made him mad. That is completely normal. You are doing your job. However, what I am talking about is a deep well of anger that develops in a teenager when parents are more controlling and restrictive than they need to be.
Take a minute to do a self-assessment. Are you setting limits and rules that are fair and reasonable? Are you holding on to old rules that your son has outgrown? If so, consider making some small changes.
3. You are slowing down the process of your son becoming responsible and independent
You do want that right? Just a quick reminder that our job is to prepare these wonderful monsters to support themselves and become productive members of society. The more you do for him and the more you manage his life, the less opportunity he has to step up to the plate.
Believe it or not, most teen’s want to feel powerful and capable. They might kick against becoming responsible, but at the end of the day it is a good feeling that they need to experience.
Make sure you are nudging your son forward and not holding him back.
4. Drone parenting takes a ton of time and energy on your part
This kind of parenting is exhausting. I know you are not the kind of parent that wants to complain. You love your kids and you will do just about anything for them.
However, there comes a time when it is no longer a virtue that you are working harder than your teenager.
It’s like a mother continuing to carry her 40 pound two year old and not letting the child learn how to walk. You will wear yourself out. You will be an impatient, angry and frazzled version of yourself. It doesn’t need to be that way.
In fact your family needs you to take care of yourself.
Sometimes that means dialing back your parenting and letting your son pick up the slack. I know you are thinking that he won’t pick up the slack, but I encourage you to give him a chance.
Tell him that you have been working too hard and you are going to try a little experiment. For one week you are not going to bother him about his room and let him make his own choices. Maybe give him a little incentive to keep it clean. At the end of the week you will have a conversation and see what worked and what didn’t work.
5. You are pushing your teen away from you instead of bringing him closer
I know you want to be a good parent. You will say and do things that upset your son, because you know it is good for him. But, if you push too far and too often, this will be the result. As I mentioned before, he will get increasingly angry and he will pull away from you.
He will avoid any conversations with you because they only turn into conflicts. He will share less and less of his world with you for fear of unwanted lectures. He will kick against your control and you will find yourself in endless power struggles.
Sounds pretty terrible right!?
I’m not going to lie to you. This is a fine line that you and I have to dance on. No one gets it right all the time. Sometimes it just needs to be messy and that is part of family life.
But I will tell you this. Your son will shout silent hallelujahs if you take the time to make these adjustments.
He will feel the relief. He will have new opportunities to engage with his life or deal with some natural consequences (which he can learn from).
After reading this post I am guessing you have a pretty good idea if you are a drone parent or not.
No guilt or shame here. Just encouragement to keep growing and working on yourself.
What is one thing that you can take off your plate this week?
Just one thing you can choose to not worry about and manage for your son?
It could make a big difference for you and your teenager.