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‘75% of mothers subject their kids to helicopter-style parenting’

Study by Mumbai -based think tank states while mothers have helicopter parenting style, fathers allow kids to learn via trail and error method

mumbai Updated: Nov 30, 2016 10:33 IST
Puja Pednekar
The study revealed that nearly 75% mothers had a helicopter parenting style, characterised by a tendency to hover over their children and swoop in to rescue them at the first sign of trouble.
The study revealed that nearly 75% mothers had a helicopter parenting style, characterised by a tendency to hover over their children and swoop in to rescue them at the first sign of trouble. (Shutterstock )

A new study on Mumbai parents have revealed that even though mothers are better teachers, children learn to become independent and take risks from their fathers. The study states that fathers are capable of teaching students much more than they are usually given credit for. 

The survey was conducted by Early Childhood Association (ECA), a Mumbai-based think tank consisting of 200 preschools, child specialist and Podar Institute of Education, Santacruz, as its members. A group of 1,500 parents, selected randomly, from Mumbai were assigned tasks along with their child and their actions were studied. 

The study revealed that nearly 75% mothers had a helicopter parenting style, characterised by a tendency to hover over their children and swoop in to rescue them at the first sign of trouble. Fathers showed a more relaxed and liberal attitude (68%), encouraged their children to learn through trial and error. They allowed kids to make mistakes. Moreover, the mothers used words such as ‘no’ and ‘be careful’ much often than fathers while interacting with their children. 

About 80% fathers egged on their children to come up with new ideas even if they were risky.  “We were surprised by the parenting style implemented by the fathers, we expected them to be much less invested than mothers but they were the ones teaching 21st century skills to the kids,” said Swati Popat Vats, president of ECA. 

Adding that helicopter parenting was the biggest flaw of mothers, Vats said, “Such a style kills the child’s ability to be self-reliant. He will always need validation and help from another person.” 

In contrast, the study shows that mothers taught children persistence, another quintessential life-skills. When they were unable to complete an activity, 32% fathers told to give up but 65% mothers urged them to keep at it. 

Mothers were also found to be much more involved than fathers. About 72% fathers were busy on their phones even while spending time with their children, while 48% mothers set their phones aside to help the child. 

City parents are divided over the findings of the study. “I don’t agree fully with the study, I think mothers too teach children to be independent,” said Sonika Bokariya, a parent from Powai. 

Bokariya said that she teaches her seven-year-old to do things on his own. “I teach him to get ready for school, clean the room and even study by himself,” said Bokariya. 

Some of the fathers admitted that they don’t get much time to be involved with their children. “I teach math to my children, but my wife takes care of everything else,” said Ajit Fernandes, a parent from Malad. 

Mental health professionals said that mothers are able to teach persistence because they have more empathy for the children. “It is known that kids are able to confide and share their anxieties and fears more with their moms. As a result, moms are better at motivating children,” said Dr Vani Kulhalli, psychiatrist, consultant with Four Care Hospital, Vile Parle. 

But Kulhalli said that the debate on which parent makes a better teacher largely depends on the education of the parent and how much time he/she spends with the child. “Such studies cannot be conclusive, they face many limitations,” added Kulhalli.

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