HYDERABAD: Helicopter parent. Wikipedia defines it as: ‘A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or simply a cosseter) is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.’ It fits perfectly all right when it comes in the context of a toddler, a child or even a teenager. But when the offspring being helicoptered is a 25-year-old or worse a 31-year-old then it comes as a surprise not without its shock factor. What happens then? Does the child, actually not a child anymore and on the verge of becoming-a-parent-himself/herself, is as normal as any other person? Well, no.
Ask Ahmed Waqas, who’s going to celebrate his 30th birthday in less than three months. “My parents keep calling me in the late evening; the moment the clock strikes 10 my phone rings as if I were a little child and would be lost in the dark alleys,” he frowns sipping his mocktail. Just then his iPhone beeps. The tiny green WhatsApp icon lit up with his mum’s message to come home soon. This is not enough, he was attending a book launch with his parents and committed the mistake of telling them that he’s going to ask the next question when the emcee announced so. “That’s when they started cheering gleefully, ‘Go Waqas go!’ My ears burnt with shame. I felt I was back to prep school!” And no this isn’t enough. They even try to control his dates expressing their extreme likes and dislikes. “It’s suffocating. The moment I revolt, my mum has this tendency to fall sick. I no longer want to be controlled by them. I have applied for higher studies in Canada and will be away from this suffocation soon. And who knows I’ll settle abroad away from them,” rues the Jubilee Hills based entrepreneur.
Now sample this. Poojitha was with her partner on a long drive after a sumptuous dinner. “We were crossing the National Highway and just then he gets this video call from his mum and dad not to crane his neck outside the window! I didn’t even whether to laugh or cry,” says the 25-year-old marketing professional who just tied the knot with a 26-year-old software professional, the only child of helicopter parents in Pondicherry. And every four hours his parents call up to check with him if he’s been drinking enough water. And no he’s not suffering from dehydration. It’s their routine to check on his consumption limit. “Despite being brought up ‘even now’ by his parents, my husband is quite mature and takes it sportingly, but still I feel shocked at times.” Indira Sampat, a 24-year-old advertising professional is tired of her parents not allowing to let her board an Ola or Uber. “They drive all the way to my office or the place I am with friends. It’s embarrassing. Can you believe I have the curfew time of 10.30 pm! My friends sympathise because my parents lost my elder brother when he was just 9. I understand their fear. But they can’t throttle me with their love,” she says.
So what do the psychiatrists and psychologists say? “It makes a child who’s being helicoptered even as an adult quiet vulnerable to extreme anxiety, and in some cases Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). They struggle in taking decisions for themselves,” says Padmavathi Raju, an independent clinical psychologist in Nanakramguda. And what can be the solution? “The parents need to understand that there has to be mutual respect for both the parties. From the very beginning responsibilities have to be handed over and parents have to make sure that children grow up as responsible individuals. But somewhere the umbilical chord has to be cut. They have to let go,” says Anu, a life coach working at Asha Wellness Centre, Kondapur.
Too much of control can result in mental health issues in young adults
A child who is helicoptered till a longer time than required it can also result in mental health conditions like ADHD, MDD or panic attacks