Most people are familiar with the term “helicopter parenting.” Its use was first recorded in 1969 by Dr. Haim Ginott in his book Parents & Teenagers. When talking with teens, he heard them describe their parents as hovering over them like helicopters.
It’s important for mothers and fathers to take active and nurturing roles in raising their children, but helicopter parenting is an example of taking that involvement a step too far.
Dr. Ann Dunne, psychologist and author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, defines it as “overparenting.” She says that helicopter parenting means “being involved in a child’s life in a way that is controlling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way that is in excess of responsible parenting.”
We’re all shaped by our own childhood memories, some of which are surely troublesome or even painful. So it’s only natural to want to protect your children from negative experiences. But there are two problems with trying to accomplish this through micromanaging.
First, you can’t be hovering over your children twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Even if that’s the main goal in your life. It’s just not possible.
Second, helicopter parenting carries significant long-term risk for the child. What will they do the day Mom or Dad isn’t there to solve a problem for them? Children, whose parents attempted to shield them from all negative circumstances, end up lacking resilience. Every small setback leaves them riddled with anxiety.
It’s also possible to be a “helicopter investor”—for the same reasons and with similar results.
Like a good parent, a prudent investor takes personal responsibility for their retirement, with planning, self-discipline, and reliance on sound advice. But the helicopter investor takes it one step further, hovering over his portfolio and constantly intervening in an attempt to avoid painful, short-term losses.
Nobody wants to see their investments lose ground, and this behavior enables the investor to feel like he’s “doing something” about the regular ups and downs of the market. But unfortunately, like the helicopter parent, it puts him at much greater risk of detrimental performance results in the long-term.
Research has shown repeatedly that individual investors who transact in reaction to short-term data are more likely to underperform over meaningful time frames.
There are plenty of ways to be a responsibly engaged investor without falling into the helicoptering trap. The more you can do to lower your expenses and save aggressively, the better your chances of reaching your retirement goal.
We can help you fine tune your plan and then help you stick with it when you’re tempted to “just do something.”