7 signs you were raised by helicopter parents who constantly hovered over you

If you are like me and your parents hovered over you your whole childhood, you may be wondering what the consequences of that might be.

 What effect has my childhood had on how I’ve grown up and what can I do about these things now?

Or, you might be wondering whether your parents were helicopter parents at all. Read on to find out about some different signs that they were and what you can do about them.

1) Difficulty making decisions

When someone asks you to make a decision do you just want them to make it for you? Do you say “I don’t mind, either is fine”? 

Our parents have made us people pleasers because we didn’t get to make any decisions ourselves when we were young. We followed along and did what we were told. We chose hobbies that our parents encouraged and learned very early on not to ask for anything much.

Once I left home, I found it extremely hard to make decisions for myself because I had never had the practice. My parents rarely allowed me to choose between anything and if they did it was between two options: chocolate or strawberry ice cream, for example.

As an adult, I had to learn to make decisions for myself, and even now I often prefer that someone else makes them for me. But practice makes perfect in this regard. But before we can practice making decisions we need to figure out what we want.

My therapist got me to write a list of three things I desired every day. This is called the Desire Practice. At first, I couldn’t think of anything. It was so hard. 

But over time, I could begin to think of more and more things more quickly. Instead of it taking me half an hour to come up with three things, I could write a page in five minutes! This practice has helped me to be able to make more decisions for myself.

2) Fear of failure

I don’t know about you, but because my parents were always there to help, I didn’t get the opportunity to fail very often. 

Suddenly being out on my own, I was so worried that I would mess up. 

No longer did I have my Dad there to do all my school projects for me. I was sent out into the world and expected to do well.

The thing is that I didn’t know what to do if I failed because I hadn’t been allowed to. So because of this, I was very anxious when I thought I might fail or when I did.

Unfortunately, the only way to learn about failure is by failing. And it’s much easier if we learn this as children because the stakes aren’t so high.

But here I was at University having failed a Math paper. Having to repeat the paper the next semester. But I realized that failing isn’t always a bad thing because I ended up getting an A the second time around!

3) Lack of self-confidence

Were you a shy child? Or were you labeled as shy as I was?

Chances are you weren’t naturally shy, you just lacked self-confidence as I did. 

When parents are always around, watching your every move, letting you do only safe activities, and not allowing you to experience the world you live in there’s no wonder you might lack self-confidence. You don’t feel trusted. You don’t feel capable.

You were never allowed to make judgments yourself, so how can you be confident in the decisions you have to make now? You can’t.

This one takes time to get through. Every time someone compliments you, write it down or do something so that you can remember it. This kind of practice will build up your self-confidence slowly and make you realize that you are good at more things than you had thought.

4) Alternating between compliance and rebellion

grew up in emotionally absent parents 7 signs you were raised by helicopter parents who constantly hovered over you

Think back to when you were a teenager. How did you act?

I was always scared of my parents. I was always compliant as a child, but as I grew older I wanted to fit in with others and try new things. Unfortunately for me, as well as my parents being helicopter parents, they were also religious.

So, as much as I wanted to please them, I also wanted to go out with my friends and do what teens do. The entirety of my teenage years was a yoyo of compliance and rebellion. 

Even now, as an adult, I still keep a lot of my life from my parents because they drilled into me how I should be and what they expect, even though that is now who I am!

I have a friend who grew up in the same way and she went totally on the rebellion path. The positive thing is that she can now be totally honest with her parents about her life, whereas I still can’t.

5) Boundary issues

Have you ended up with some friends who push you around, perhaps a manipulative partner? This can be because your parents kept you away from people like this as a child, so you never learned how to deal with such behaviors.

Not knowing how to say “No” because we were never allowed to say this to our parents can have a detrimental effect on our boundaries.

As an adult, I had to suddenly create boundaries, but not after learning some tough lessons.

First I had to decide where I stood. Which was hard enough anyway not knowing where I stood. And once I’d done that, I had to stand strong in what I had decided. This was also hard after living a life just doing as I was told.

6) Difficulty with independence

Just as it was difficult for me to make decisions, it was also difficult for me to become independent.

For many years I felt uncomfortable doing anything on my own. Even eating out on my own scared me. If I was out, alone and hungry I would go through a drive-through and then eat in my car because I felt too self-conscious to eat in the restaurant.

Some of my friends traveled overseas solo, and I just went to work and saw my friends on the weekend living in a shared flat.

When the time finally came for me to live alone it was the most out-of-character thing for me to do. And then again when I left to go and live overseas alone I got the same reaction. 

I finally did these things even though they scared me, but at a much older age than most other people. Instead of going to live overseas in my early 20’s, I went when I turned 30.

I had to learn the things I didn’t get to as a child, in adulthood.

7) Lack of identity

The hardest thing to learn was who I was. Did you have trouble with this?

Who am I? What do I like? What do I want to do? These were 3 of the hardest questions to answer as a young person.

In my early 20’s I got married because it made everyone happy. As the relationship quickly fell apart my now ex-husband and I went to marriage counseling. The one thing she explained to us was that I didn’t know who I was.

This hit me hard. At first, I was thinking, “Yay, I’ve got an easy out’. But then when I dug deeper it was true, I lacked an identity.

So in my mid-twenties, I was trying to figure out who I was, what I wanted, and what I wanted to do next. Because my parents didn’t let me decide this as a child.

I didn’t learn about the Desire practice I mentioned before until I was in my thirties. But even then it was one of the most helpful practices for figuring out who I am and what I want.

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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