Helicopter Parenting, The Kids… and Your Marriage

Helicopter parents. They are all over the nation. Tracking their child’s every move, pattern,
behaviour, and, very often, failure. As some of the beneficiaries of this parenting phenomenon
are turning into adults, it is becoming overly apparent that not only does Helicopter Parenting
not work, but the parents put their children at a severe disadvantage as they are unable to thrive
in the face of inevitable challenge. 

Now we have to ask ourselves – why is this happening? What is the whole purpose of
Helicopter Parenting? Surely it isn’t coming from a bad place. The intention behind it is to keep
our children safe and to make sure they grow into the best versions of themselves. So what’s
going wrong? 

And this is where we’d like to focus our attention.

The truth is that kids do not need someone on top of them as much as they need someone to
model healthy and responsible behaviour. That is how kids will grow into the best versions of
themselves. Not by being on top of them, but by being around them.

You see, it’s like this: kids are like sponges with gigantic Dr. Dre headphones around their ears.
They watch everything you do carefully and mirror your actions constantly. If we take a second
to really think about it – this is a scary reality! Suddenly all expectations of your child’s success
and growth is now put right back on YOU.
But what a beautiful responsibility. By perfecting ourselves and how we act in our home we
create the opportunity to solidify our children’s behaviours.

Let’s take this one step further.
The big questions we all ask ourselves is: what do we want for our children? What kind of lives
do want them to lead? What kind of people do we want them to become?

When it comes to their marriage, parents dream of their children having happy marriages. No
fighting. No resentment. Truthfully speaking, we don’t want our children to fall into any of the
negative behaviours we see across many relationships.
Now here’s the truth: accurately predicting the success of our child’s marriage, career, and
overall relationship with the outside world has much less to do with their behaviour, and has
everything to do with our behaviour. And when it comes to marriage, it is all about how we treat
our spouses day in and day out.

So, what exactly is that healthy relationship we want to model to our children?
For starters – do mom and dad have a unified approach? Are they on the same team in terms of
parenting? Or can the child go back and forth between the two and negotiate to the best bidder?
When the parents get in an argument, do they address the issue on their own, handled in the
other room and away from the children? Or does it turn into a passive-aggressive war and
screaming match that doesn’t end for days?

Stressing this point even further, his or her world gets shaken when Mom and Dad are not on
the same front. But when we act correctly, respectfully, and in unity, that sponge with the Dr.
Dre headphones watching and mirroring our every behaviour will grow into a caring, loving
spouse.

So what can we do?
Here are three quick tips:
1. Disagreement doesn’t have to mean anger. Always strive to navigate through your
disagreements with your spouse in the way you would want your child to navigate
through his disagreements with his or her future spouse.
2. Stay unified, even when you disagree. The most important thing for your child is to see
that you are better together.
3. When a disagreement inevitably comes up, don’t make a show. Wait for the proper time
to deal with the issue, away from the children. Your kids don’t need to be in the
audience.

These ideas are not just for our children. They are fundamental to a functioning and thriving
marriage. Naturally, the way we behave around our children is how our children will eventually
behave themselves. So let’s take the step to be more conscious about our behaviour. We all
want the best for our children. We don’t need to helicopter. We need to raise our own bars. Our
children need a picture they can emulate and a roadmap for life that they can travel down.
Starting now, let’s take that beautiful responsibility and become sensitive to how we act – for our
own sake, for our spouses’ sake, and for the sake of our children’s future.

About

More about Tod and Peter  Tod Jacobs is Director of the David Robinson Institute for Jewish Heritage in Jerusalem, which he co-founded in 2005. Prior to his current role teaching and counselling his students and alumni, he enjoyed a distinguished career on Wall Street as one of the leading authorities on the telecommunications industry globally. As a managing director at JP Morgan and before that a partner at Sanford C. Bernstein and Company, Tod acted as a frequent commentator on network television and in leading newspapers and magazines and testified several times before the U.S. Congress as an expert on telecom and media issues. His credits in print and broadcast journalism, where he worked prior to Wall Street, include nominations for both the Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism and the Emmy Award. Tod lives in Jerusalem with his family. Peter Lynn has served as Dean of Students at the David Robinson Institute for Jewish Heritage since its inception. An MA in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania, Peter lectures at Touro College in Jerusalem. He is also Founder and Director of the Greatness Within Seminars, where he helps empower individuals and organisations through the application of Positive Psychology. An accomplished athlete and Ironman finisher, Peter was captain of the US World Duathlon Team. Peter lives in Jerusalem with his family.

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