Skip to main content
business man holding a clock and money

A few decades ago, the expression “helicopter parents” became part of our everyday language. When I was a primary school teacher, my colleagues and I used this expression to describe the parents who did everything (and I mean everything) for their children. These children did not learn how to be responsible because their parents were always hovering smoothing their way.

The helicopter parents made sure the children had their schoolwork, their lunch, and anything they needed to support after school activities. If by chance something was left at home, one or the other parent would rush back to school with the forgotten item. Consequently, children with helicopter parents did not exercise their memory. They did not learn how to be responsible for their belongings.

Some young adults who grew up with helicopter parents are now living on their own. They are learning how to be responsible for themselves.

If you are a young adult who grew up with overly helpful parents, you may be feeling overwhelmed. There are many ways in which you are learning how to be responsible. It can be a steep learning curve as you must now create new habits to live successfully on your own.

Things to learn are:

Managing Time:

It is up to you to figure out how to organize your morning routine. You decide what time you need to get up in the morning, No one is reminding you of your schedule and hovering about prompting you to hurry up and get ready.

You are responsible for managing your available time so that you do your household chores, your work, arrive at appointments early or on time, and have time to relax and unwind.

Organizing Space:

You get to decide how you want your home to look and feel. Is it going to be clutter-free? Will you display artwork, your hobbies, or other collectibles? Where do you want to put your belongings so the organization in your home is easy to maintain and works for you?

Your home is just that, yours. Make sure it reflects you and that it is THE place you want to be.

Managing Money:

Learning how to be responsible for managing money is another important skill. You start by creating a budget, factoring in your expenses, and recognizing the importance of saving for the future. Download this free sample budget worksheet from my website to help you create a user-friendly budget.

Learning how to be responsible with your money, your space and your time can reduce stress. It also puts you squarely in control.

Are You a Parent?

If you are now a parent yourself and want to teach your children how to be responsible for themselves and their belongings there is no time like the present.

Household Chores

Very young children can help pick up their toys and other belongings and put them away with guidance. Let them help with small chores around the house like emptying waste baskets. They can also help you sort the laundry and match up  socks.

Start teaching children to help around the house at a young age so they learn how to be responsible for their living space. They also learn that when everyone living in the home helps maintain the home it is just part of life. Doing chores and helping around the house is not a punishment.

Managing Time

As the children get older and enter school give them an academic planner so they can learn how to be responsible for their course work and activities.

My colleague, Leslie Josel from Order Out of Chaos, has developed a fabulous award-winning academic planner. This planner is set up in such a way that allows the student to “see” their busy times and available times. This system teaches the student how to be responsible for planning the best use of their time to get their schoolwork done. It shows them when their other activities are scheduled and enables them to plan time with friends. Click this link to learn more about this fabulous tool for your students.

Managing Money

If your child receives the gift of money for birthdays and holidays teach them how to save by putting a portion into a savings account for them.

Teach them how to be responsible with money by saving up for the special something they want. Create a special savings jar. They put money in it they earn by doing extra jobs around the house for you. Resist buying it for them.

If you think you may be a helicopter parent, try relaxing your grip. Take yourself out of the role of helicopter parent. Teach your child how to be responsible with their belongings, their time, and their money. Let them make some mistakes while they are still in your care. This will result in a confident young adult with the skills to live successfully on their own.

For more great tips on how to teach your child to be responsible and how being organized can help you manage time, space, and money schedule time with me. We can meet virtually or in person.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization.


  • Seana Turner says:

    I made a list once of everything young people should learn before they leave home. How to manage money is a big one. I would say I had mixed results with this one, even though I tried. I do believe that it is healthy to talk about finances with the family, even from when children are young. If this topic is openly discussed, it won’t feel “off limits” to ask questions!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I, too, had mixed results with mu children. One does really well managing money and saving up. The other, not so much. I agree it’s an important topic that needs to stay out in the open.

  • Diane- It’s fascinating how parents became “helicopter parents.” When I was growing up, that wasn’t a thing. Yet, at some point, parenting shifted, and I don’t know why things developed as they did. In thinking about how my husband and I parented, I’d describe us as involved parents. But as involved as we were, we also understood the importance of teaching our kids to be independent, so when they left the nest, they’d be as ready as possible. Of course, no matter how much you teach your kids, there will always be lessons they need to learn on their own.

    I remember asking both of our daughters before they left for college, “Is there anything we didn’t teach you that you want to learn before you go off?” And they both said the same thing- they wanted to know how to do laundry. For all their growing up, I was the laundry doer. But I hadn’t taught them, and that’s what they wanted to know. So we did practice loads, and they left with instructions and all the tools they needed. Now they are experts. 🙂

    But truthfully, as much as we taught them, they taught us so much more—a beautiful, ongoing journey.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      That’s so funny, Linda. My sons both said the same thing – laundry! And, I agree – an ongoing journey. We continue to teach each other. Thank you so much for joining in this conversation!

  • While the kids have been in college for a few years, I have become more of a go-to gal to help them figure out what happened with particular situations, bank accounts, insurance, etc.. They then go and do the task. When they were in school. I only recall once that the kids contacted me about bringing something in. It made them responsible for their own life and as a result, helped them live on their own while in college. Since I worked from home, I would remind them that I just can’t drop everything to take items to school even though the school is only 1 mile away.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Sabrina, for joining the conversation. I appreciate your comments.

  • Great content, but I also like the structure of this post: something for the young adults and something for the current parents. You tied the message effectively to both constituencies well. Congrats.

  • Guilty as charged! There sure were times I was a super helicopter parent. But I also taught my children how to stand on their own two feet, find inner strength and be resilient.
    I think my son may be the weakest link. He always had the females in his life, his mom, older sister, twin sister and babysitter, taking such good care of him. He was amazingly skilled at getting people to do things for him.
    I think it must’ve been his smile!!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Oh, Ronni! You made me smile and laugh. I think there have been times for all of us when we helicoptered around making sure our babies had a soft landing when they fell. I know I am guilty as charged of that. Like you, I taught my sons to acknowledge their strengths and to be resilient. Thank you very much for joining the conversation.

  • Julie Bestry says:

    I love how you balanced these elements — with advice for young adults and for parents. One note: I had a great memory and was responsible, but was really unhappy with school and was suffering abuse on the bus, so I “forgot” to set my alarm and get up on time to ensure my mom (not a helicopter parent, per se, but certain a hands-on, involved one) would drive me to school. My mom gave me the skills to do everything I needed to do on my own, but also the support to know that I would never have to be alone. Resilience + support is an amazing combo. Your guidance for what young people need is right on target — it reminds me of how great your Flyiing Solo book is!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Julie! I’m so glad your mom gave you the skills and support you needed.