The backlash against helicopter parents?

There have been a lot of articles and books recently like

  • A Nation of Wimps

By: Hara Estroff Marano
-Stop worrying about your children!
-Free-Range Kids-(Book)
-Dear Parents: Please Relax, It’s Just Camp

Has there been any real change in our society though? I think there has not been unfortunately. Because when stories about Maddie McCann are still front page ‘news’ then there will be no significant change.

All I can tell you is that college professors today can rattle off a million stories about parents contacting them directly (sometimes to the point of harassment) about Junior’s grades, etc. and that many (not all, but many) current students are remarkably NOT self-sufficient. In addition, HR departments are now having to learn how to deal with parents of applicants who want to sit in on interviews, complain when Junior didn’t get the job, etc. It’s a real phenomenon.

Social change doesn’t just happen overnight. It’ll take time for the backlash against helicopter parents to work. I can’t imagine having my mother or father sit in with me in an interview. If I were hiring someone and they needed mommy or daddy to sit in then I absolutely would not hire them.

Who’s Maddie McCann?

Oh, wait! I remember now. She’s that little toddler that disappeared in the UK a while ago. What does that have to do with helicopter parents?

I found particularly interesting the role the cell phone has played in this phenomenon. My daughter, who’s 22 calls me whenever she has a question about anything as though I’m her personal wikipedia and gps all rolled into one.

Very interesting. I wonder if it’ll just take them longer to grow out of it?

While I’m sure there are some parents who are guilty of this sort of behavior, I hardly think that it’s a swine-flu level epidemic. Not backlash-worthy, in other words.

Yea I don’t think this is as common as people make it out to be.

“Helicopter” parents? What’s that?

I’m 47, and my oldest kid is 12, so maybe I’m in a gap, but I’ve never come across this term.

Helicopter parents are parents who hover over their children rather than encouraging them to become independent.

I was just thinking that the huge sales of the ‘Dangerous Book for Boys’ shows there is some backlash happening

From here -

“Helicopter-parenting - because Mum and Dad are always hovering overhead; hyper-parenting; Scandinavians joke about “curling parents”, who frantically sweep the ice in front of their child. “Education mothers” devote every waking second to steering their children through the school system in Japan.”

“Can my mom sit in on the interview?”
“Why not?”
“Because she’s not going to be coming to work with you.”
“Why didn’t Junior get the job?”
“Junior wasn’t the best fit for the position of the applicants reviewed.”
“Why not?!”
“We are not required to divulge that information.” <click>

Or the abbreviated version…

“Can my mom sit in on the interview?”
“Thanks for your interest, but we’re going to go with a different candidate. Goodbye.”

They were telling the same stories when I started in university 20 years ago.

And they were telling the same stories 20 years before that.

It’s real, but it’s an old story.

I can imagine a 14 year old having their mother at a McDonald interview, but I think this has never happened in other circumstances.

It does happen, but generally it’s a case of a 21-year-old who dropped out of high school to “Start a band” who has no life skills being dragged into the Manpower office by a mother who just wants his pot-stenchy ass off the couch. I used to do audits on employment firms, and it’s a very common occurrence… it’s justthat it’s the losers with no experience or skills at all. Most young people would rather die than have their parents do something like that. I mean, I would have dropped dead of humiliation if my parents had interfered with a job interview.

For real jobs, it’s a rarity to say the least. Parents with pull have always done this sort of thing behind the scenes, though. It’s called nepotism, and it’s millennia old.

There seems to be some helicopter-denying going on here. Far more kids today are raised under “supervised playdate” conditions than in earlier kick-the-can neighborhood roustabout norms. My girlfriend is on the admissions committee for an esteemed medical school hereabouts and has experienced a dramatic uptrend in occasions where parents try to sit in on med school interviews over the last 10 years (!).

Not that parents didn’t ever “get involved” in earlier generations, but nothing like todays parents. Not even close.

If they did, I never heard it. When I started college 40 years ago, you called your parents once a week, wrote them letters, and asked for money. I never heard of a case of parents contacting professors or employers. There was also no way a parent could look at an assignment, or a kid send an assignment to a parent to look at. Distance and relatively primitive communications made going to college being on your own.

I wouldn’t even interview them.

I suspect that it is a real phenominon but much over-hyped and nowhere near as “new” as made out; in some cases it is easy to see how it gets started.

In evaluating the role of parents in education, another factor is how much more difficult and expensive the education process has become. I was able to put myself through law school with minimal debt by working summers (this in Toronto) - isn’t that easy to do it now; in my day fees were $5,000 (I could just pay for it living at home & working summers & part-time); today, fees are over $20,000 - four times as much. Parents are forced to be somewhat more involved.

And try getting a spot in daycare or a good nursery school - you have to practically leap out of bed before the cum is dry to sign the little one up on the waiting lists. A parent who is not pushy, proactive or assertive (or without pots of cash) may find it difficult to get the programs they need for their kid.