Growing up with a helicopter parent meant I never made decisions on my own. At 25, I’m learning to trust my own judgment for the first time.

Mia Zhang by Mia Zhang | March 7, 2024, 7:18 pm

Growing up, my mother’s voice was the GPS guiding me through life.

From choosing what to wear to school, which friends to hang out with, and even what to eat for lunch – her opinions shaped my every decision. As a result, I never really knew what it felt like to make my own choices.

Mom, a consummate helicopter parent always had the best intentions.

Her desire to protect me from the world’s harsh realities was born out of love. However, as I grew older, I realized that her constant hovering had stunted my ability to make decisions independently.

By the time I reached 25, I found myself frozen with indecision when faced with even the most mundane choices – from selecting a brand of toothpaste to deciding on a vacation destination. It was during these moments that I knew something had to change.

I took it upon myself to chart a new course, one where I could learn to trust my own judgment and decision-making abilities.

This wasn’t about rebellion or proving a point; it was about personal growth and learning to navigate life on my own terms.

Moving forward, every decision would become a stepping-stone in my journey toward independence—from the seemingly insignificant ones like what dinner to cook, to the more impactful ones like choosing a career path.

Now, two years into this newfound freedom, confronting the world without the safety net of my mother’s constant guidance has been both terrifying and liberating. But what’s been most surprising?

The unexpected lessons I’ve learned along the way, and how they’ve reshaped my perception of independence and self-reliance.

Here’s what life has been like for me after finally breaking free from the constraints of my helicopter upbringing.

Stepping out of the shadow

Shaking off the constraints of a helicopter upbringing was not an overnight process.

It began with small steps, like deciding what to cook for dinner. I’d stand in the supermarket aisle, staring at rows of ingredients, feeling overwhelmed. But each choice, no matter how small, was a victory.

Next came bigger decisions. I chose to pursue a career in graphic design, against my mother’s advice to opt for something more “stable”. It was a risk, but it was my risk to take.

I also began to manage my own finances, another area my mother had always overseen. Budgeting, saving, and investing became my responsibility. There were missteps along the way, but each one taught me invaluable lessons about money management.

In this process, I’ve learned that making your own decisions doesn’t mean disregarding advice from others. It means weighing that advice against your own instincts and making an informed decision that feels right for you.

The journey towards independence has been far from easy. There have been moments of self-doubt and second-guessing. But with each decision I make, I trust myself a little more.

Busting the stereotype

The general assumption is that children of helicopter parents are doomed to a life of dependency and indecision. Some even believe that we lack the ability to think critically or face challenges head-on. I beg to differ.

While it’s true that growing up under the constant vigilance of my mother was tough, it didn’t leave me helpless. Instead, it instilled in me a deep desire for independence and self-reliance.

I won’t deny that there were hurdles along the way. I had to consciously push against years of conditioning and learned helplessness. But, the very challenges that seemed insurmountable became opportunities for growth.

I’ve learned not to view my upbringing as a disadvantage, but as a catalyst that pushed me towards self-discovery and independence.

For every person who assumes that I can’t handle life on my own, I’m proud to prove them wrong.

Building trust in myself

Coming out of the shadow of helicopter parenting isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely possible.

I started by making small decisions every day. These ranged from what to eat for breakfast to which route to take for my morning run.

Each decision, no matter how trivial it seemed, worked like a muscle, strengthening my confidence in my own ability to make choices.

Secondly, I surrounded myself with supportive and understanding friends. They encouraged me to voice my opinions and make choices without fear of judgment.

Another game-changer was learning to accept mistakes. Understand that it’s okay to mess up; it’s part of the learning process. Every mistake is an opportunity for growth.

Lastly, I sought professional help. A counselor can provide valuable guidance and tools to help you navigate your way towards independence.

The journey is ongoing and the learning never stops. But each day brings me closer to becoming the confident decision-maker I aspire to be. If you’re facing a similar struggle, remember that it’s never too late to start trusting yourself.

Reframing your reality

Through this journey of personal growth, I’ve realized that taking ownership of my life and decisions has a transformative power.

It’s not about finding fault, but rather about acknowledging my role and power in shaping my life.

As I started to make my own decisions, I began to understand the influence of societal expectations and cultural conditioning on my thought process. It was liberating to realize that I’m not bound by these norms.

Let’s break it down:

  • Acknowledge your current struggles.
  • Accept responsibility for your situation. This isn’t about blame; it’s about recognizing your power to change.
  • Understand the societal and cultural expectations that have influenced your choices.
  • Start thinking for yourself; make decisions based on your personal ambitions and desires.
  • Embrace practical self-development; dedicate time daily to improve yourself.
  • Align your life with your true nature, not what others expect of you.

Life is a journey of self-exploration. It’s about questioning societal myths, breaking free from expectations, and shaping your own reality.


Just know that embracing this journey is about creating a life on your own terms.

It’s about moving forward with purpose, confidence, and self-belief. It’s never too late to start trusting yourself.