Self-Confidence: The Unintended Consequences of the Helicopter Parent

The best parents have the best intentions for their children, but in today’s times, many are unaware of the unintended consequences of their decisions that are undermining their children to grow into productive and fulfilled adults. As a life and marriage coach to parents, who are struggling with parenting of younger children, I’m seeing a disturbing trend—late teenagers and young adults with low self-concept and confidence in their abilities to “adult”. With all the attention on how to help your child have high self-esteem, how come there’s such a high degree of young adults by their own admission who don’t have it? I have a human behaviorist theory that I’ve tested in my coaching practice. Parents who’ve implemented it have had success when started early enough in a child’s life.

The Self-Esteem/Self-Confidence Problem

Parents want good things for their children, and in the process, have typically become what most would label the “helicopter” parent. The helicopter parent makes sure to give their child everything they can afford, clears the struggle from their child’s life, and heaven forbid, when their child makes a mistake, swoops in to “save the day”. They shield their child in how the real world operates and the negative consequences of their child’s poor decisions. They make their child’s life as comfortable as possible, under the rationale that they want their child to have it better than they did.

What these parents may not have self-reflected on is how their struggle helped them learn, grow, and develop resilience to not give up and to find a way through the disappointments and rejections that come with living life. Parents, with the best of intentions, are robbing their children of those teachable experiences that afford their children the opportunity to become masters over their own life by struggling through and finding a way to the other side of their disappointments.

What are the unintended consequences of the “soft” life? These young adults have no self-confidence to work through their problems, because they’ve never had the opportunity to flex and build that muscle. They know they’ll be on their own and feel ill-equipped. They know it’s just a matter of time before they’ll be confronted with a “big” issue, and it’s causing them incredible anxiety. When will the shoe drop?

Compounding the issue is that their low self-confidence makes them unattractive to a partner who has self-esteem and self-confidence. The type of partner they attract is similar in their own struggle. I know that parents don’t want this outcome for their children.

The Solution

As a parent are you questioning whether your parenting style is setting your child up for success? The earlier in your child’s life you can catch yourself in unhealthy parenting decisions, the better the chance of self-correction and getting your child onto a development track that builds resilience and self-confidence.

If your children are older, there’s not much you can do as a parent, other than recommend an intervention. As a life coach, I work with young adults who are trying to move forward from their parenting experiences and get on a healthier adult track. If you’re a parent or a young adult who wants to further explore this topic, reach out for a conversation to discuss how I might be able to help.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life story. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

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