I’m calling it “helicopter dad.” As dads, good ones at least, we want the best for our kids. We want to protect them, for them to do well in school and start off on good footing so that, if we’re honest, they have a better chance of getting ahead of all the other kids. Because of this, sometimes we get a little too involved.


A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.
—Matthew 4:21-22


We’ve all seen the helicopter dad

We’ve all seen it, the disgruntled dad in the stands who yells at the coaches who are clearly morons who have no idea what they’re doing because his kid isn’t getting enough playing time or is in the wrong position.

Sometimes the dads make their way into the dugout or onto the field. And it’s not only sports. I’ve walked around enough elementary science fairs to notice projects that NASA engineers would have difficulty assembling. I don’t care how smart your third grader is, he did not build that functioning combustion engine from PVC pipes, rubber bands, and LEGOS all on his own. He just didn’t!

The term “helicopter parent” became popular not too long ago to describe moms and dads with an excessive interest in the lives of their child. How is it possible to take too much interest in my own kids? I’m glad you asked. When we begin to take on too much responsibility for our children’s successes and failures it damages the child’s development. They never fully learn how to deal with consequences, whether positive or negative, on their own, because they’ve never had to.


Here’s how the helicopter dad does more damage than good:

The helicopter dad takes away his child’s independence.

One of the ways we can gauge how successful we’ve been as a dad is how well our kids can function without us.

  • How do they deal with hardships?
  • Overcome adversity?
  • What do they do when their best effort isn’t good enough?

For our kids to grow and mature, we have to guide them through these types of obstacles not eliminate them. This is biblical manhood. Falling down is how we learn how to get back up. If we remove the possibility of falling down from our kids, how will they be able to stand when we aren’t around.

The helicopter dad sets his child up for major pain and disappointment.

Making a costly mistake in junior high hurts a lot less than it does as an adult. Forget to bring your equipment to football practice, you have to run laps. Forget to bring your report to work, you could lose your job. Don’t always bail your kids out. If they forget to do something that gets them in trouble at school, with a coach, or boss of a part-time job, let them get in trouble. Allowing our kids to fail at an early age will help them learn how to avoid it much more quickly than if we are constantly bailing them out.

The helicopter dad limits his child’s potential.

Possibly the worst thing we do by always stepping in “to save the day” is we take away the need for our kids to really and truly try their best. If we do this too many times, our kids will simply stop trying. Why put out the effort when good ole mom and dad will provide it for me. When our kids take on a task all on their own, they get to see what they are truly made of. This is the way of the connected dad.

When Jesus strolled by and invited James and John on an adventure that would not only change their lives but the course of human history, Zebedee stayed in the boat. I’m sure he hugged his sons and wished them well but he didn’t follow after them. He let them go. And judging from how his two boys turned out, I bet Zebedee was a good dad.

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About the Author:

Eric Ballard is the number one best-selling author (in his family) from Texas where he lives with his beautiful wife and two daughters. He has written several books and loves the Mississippi State Bulldogs, where he attended college for too many years. Because of an illustrious soccer career that was cut too short, most nights, Eric still sits by the phone waiting for the Houston Dynamo to finally call him up. Find Eric at www.DadDevotional.com