A helicopter parent hovers. They physically hover, keeping constant tabs on their child’s whereabouts and activities. They emotionally hover, constantly worrying about their child’s well-being, success, and future. Put these two things together, and you get the anxious-fillled parents that we all know of as helicopter parents. These parents start doing everything for their children, even when their children are capable of performing these tasks themselves. They prioritize their own ambitions and desires of their children’s life rather than their children’s dreams. Helicopter parents takes the driver’s seat of their children’s lives.
Evidence of all of the negative effects that helicopter parenting has on children is cropping up everywhere you look nowadays. Just this morning, I came across two articles while perusing Facebook. For example, among other things, there is evidence that depression rates have skyrocketed among college kids, and children of helicopter parents are reported to have a higher chance of engaging in alcohol and drug abuse.
So, what does this have to do with tennis. Tennis parents are notorious for being helicopter parents. Just think of Bernard Tomic’s father. They hover around the tennis court while their child practices, and even give their two cents on coaching when they feel like it. They attempt to live through their child’s athletic success, pressuring their child to pursue what may just be their own tennis dreams. They shelter their child from anything, whether it be other sports or hobbies, that may distract any of their attention away from tennis. They physically and emotionally hover, creating an anxiety-filled environment that is toxic for all those involved.
So, what is the solution? How do you stop being a helicopter parent? It is fairly straightforward if you think about it, but here it is:
Take a step back physically and emotionally
I know, this is way easier said than done, but it is important.
First, start by taking a step back physically. When your children do not see you everywhere they are, they will start to believe that you trust them. Knowing that you trust them, they will start to trust themselves and figure things out themselves. They will start getting comfortable in their own skin rather than try to conform to fit the mold that they believe you want them to fill. You will reassure them that who they are is more than enough for you. When it comes to tennis, they will realize what they actually want out of tennis, rather than what they think their parents want them to accomplish in the sport.
Telling a parent to stop worrying about their child every second of the day is not realistic. A better goal is to try to not act on every anxious thought that pops into your head. Give your child a chance to emotionally step away and learn how to be independent. This involves letting your child fail sometimes, while they figure things out for themselves. But, remember, failing and learning from mistakes is an important step to becoming successful and happy in life.
All of this does not mean that you are stepping completely out of their lives. You are still there to love and guide them as they grow up, but let them come to you for advice for a change sometimes, especially as they get older. You will see them enjoy tennis on their own terms and at whatever level they want, and you will love watching them grow up to be self-sufficient and happy adults.