Where did this come from? (Parents wading in to fight their kids' petty squabbles)

I think part of helicopter parenting (and I’m right in the midst of it, my kids are 4) is an overall perception in our society that it’s possible to make life Just Right.

It’s the lawyer thing (“sue 'em! sue 'em!”), it’s the medical thing (pills to cure all your ills), it’s the consumerist thing, and particularly it’s the constant warnings to DO THIS OR YOUR CHILD WILL DIE!!!

It starts before they’re even born - the things a pregnant lady isn’t supposed to do these days is as long as your arm! My older friends and relatives used to tease me about it - they drank, smoked, ate nitrates, etc. We’re supposed to walk the straight and narrow - because if we DO, then things for our child will be Just Right.

And maybe it’s also the fact that most mothers these days used to have jobs. With real paychecks and performance reviews and a sense of power.

So yeah, where DOES this job begin and end? How do you know? How do you measure it on a daily basis?

Kid’s screaming, gotta abandon this before I’m really through…

I’m not sure if the same thing is true for Mangetout and other Brits or non-Yanks, but I would guess that it arose in the U.S. around the time that lots of moms went to work and the kids went into organized activities and the free flow of kitchen and backyard conversations dried up. In the olden days, kids tended to gather in clumps in the neighborhood, moving from yard to yard for various activities and they were always under the watchful eye of some mother. And the mothers tended to see each other while hanging laundry or walking the kids or over coffee, exchanging tales of the neighborhood as they moved about. There was no need for the Serious Parent to come knocking on the door because most of the information about squabbles had already been disseminated through the mom network hours earlier. And as the moms watched the ongoing squabbles every day, (breaking up only those that drew blood or got loud enough to wake the baby), they got (legitimately) desensitized to them as they began to recognize that most were momentary things. Blood feuds only lasted until the kids got bored or lonely and looked up their nemeses for companionship. Now, with less opportunity to see the social dynamics of the playground, some parents tend to overreact to their kids’ tales of hostility.

I will note that some odd parental “intervention” is hardly new. My next door neighbor routinely called me over to the fence to order me to stop picking on his (slightly) younger son. This went on until the day that my mom heard him and came over to point out that our entire family had been gone all morning and that I could not have gotten Georgie dirty or broken his toy or whatever because I had been twenty miles away. (Then it came out that every time Georgie had broken something or messed up, he had been blaming it on me.) At about the same time, (1960 - 1962), a new family with an obnoxious little kid moved into the neighborhood. The father was reputed to be a member of the Dallas Cowboys, (which made no sense to kids in an NFL town (Detroit) who did not even think that they played fooball “down South”). However, the obnoxious kid would routinely get told to go home and stop bothering us and one day this huge guy showed up at our sand pit to order us to stop bothering his precious child. (We all nodded “OK” and then went back to buidling our highways or setting up our plastic armies in the sand.)

I doubt that parents are dumber or more neurotic than our parents, but they probably have less information with which to assess the seriousness of a child’s complaint.


Well, to be fair, my parents did network to find openings when I was a wee lizardling, but that’s as far as it went. I was on my own in the interview process (other than momma saying “Wear nice clothes and don’t forget the pantyhose!”). I would definitely have had Words with my parents if I ever found out they’d gone and talked to the hiring folks. :eek:

On the other hand, I’ve heard interviews from some of these kids saying that they appreciate their parents being very involved in their lives, since their parents have been around the block and can help Junior get straight in the real world. They compare this to going to the subject matter experts in the corporate world, if that makes sense.

D’oh! My first whoosh in just ages.

slinks back to the family feud threads

I see helicopter parenting a lot. I live in upper middle class white suburbia–it’s pretty much endemic around here. I have mom acquaintances who are shocked that I do not know which class my teens have which period. I know what classes they are taking, but I don’t know which one is 4th period or quite when they eat lunch etc. This is looked askance at, believe me.

Once when Daughter was in 4th grade, she left her homework at home. I called the teacher and told her that she had done it, but left it here and I was not going to bring it up to the school for her. That teacher called me back and thanked me for not disrupting class with minor homework, but also for allowing my kid to learn a lesson (I had not asked her to not dock Daughter when I called-apparently at our elementary school, such things are common.). Lesson learned, homework not forgotten again. Seems straightforward to me… I have a co-worker who does her 3rd grader’s science fair stuff. She told me today that he (the kid) had typed the stuff she dictated to him, so “he had part of the work. He’s starting to do some of the work.” WTF? :eek:

Re bullies etc. Daughter had a bully on the bus. D was in kindergarten, bully in first grade. Nasty girl. We did the whole thing described upthread by WhyNot. D moved away from Bully Girl and ended up having to tell the bus driver about her. Driver had D sit just behind her and there were no more problems. Bully went on to live a horrid existence, while D of course lives in a land of unicorns and flowers and sunshine. A salient lesson, to be sure. :wink:

I have had profs in college complain about parents calling to protest grades on papers etc. This is unbelievable to me and disheartening. There is NO reason for a parent to interfere like this for their kid.

When I was in graduate school, we had a scandal come up. One of the undergrads in our department was simply giving all of her term paper assignments to her mother, who was a librarian. Her mother researched and wrote the papers, and then e-mailed them to her daughter, who turned them in. We found out about this because some of the other undergrads complained that they were being graded on the same scale as a professional. Neither mother nor daughter could be made to understand that they were doing something wrong.

For contrast, see this site.

Long time lurker, first time poster, but this topic was just too juicy not to respond.

I work for a major East coast university, and I see more of this than you can shake a stick at. I have two stories to share, for those of you that might be thinking these claims are just an urban legend:

First, the second-hand story. My department has a research and assessment unit tasked with, among other things, tracking student satisfaction with our services. As an incentive to elicit more student responses, we offered a choice of either a Target or a Best Buy gift card for completed surveys. When it came time to distribute the gift cards, our director of R&A called one young lady to find out which of the two she’d prefer. The student asked if she could call back in a couple minutes, and DR&A agreed, figuring she’d just caught the girl at a bad time—maybe she had just gotten out of the shower. How wrong she was. A few minutes later the student calls back and says “I asked my mother, and she says I should take…”

On to the first-hand story. As part of my job responsibilities, I’m involved in hiring student exployees. While our hiring practices have recently changed, we used to hire between 40 and 50 temporary employees to help out with the move-in rush, then keep only the dozen or so best employees to work over the course of the school year. It had been our policy to recruit any student after their first year by means of targetted emails. One year our mailing list was a bit off and we ended up recruiting not only from the sophomores and juniors as usual, but also from the freshmen.

As it turned out we only had one freshman take us up on our offer of employment, but he did more than enough to justify our policy of not hiring freshmen. It was quite clear that he needed at least a year to settle into college life, specifically living on his own. It was not, however, until we opted not to extend his employment through the semester that I began to understand why he seemed particularly needing of that time to mature. His father called on his behalf to urge us to reconsider retaining him over the semester.

Now, you have to understand, this was back when helicopter parenting was just starting to become the norm, so I had had no previous experience with this sort of behavior. My own parents allowed me great freedoms while I was a child, as long as I lived up to the responsibilities that those freedoms entailed (like making sure to tell them where I was going before I went, or not leaving the door to the house standing wide open when I left.) My first reaction was “His father is fighting his battles for him? Yeah, that makes me a whole lot more willing to hire him.”

While this may not satisfy your urge to have a first-hand corporate story, I find that dealing with helicopter parents is one place that academia is actually ahead of corporate America. Give it a couple more years and there will be loads of first-hand helicopter parent hiring stories out there.

P.S. For those curious, we did not retain the freshman student. We also intentionally removed him from all future mailings. The last thing we need in a unit like ours, which is founded on freedom and accountability, is someone whose parents do their work for them. So, to you helicopter parents out there (not that I think helicopter parents cruise the dope regularly) consider that even though you’re trying to help your child, you may actually be hurting them—and not just by limiting their ability to make choices, but literally, directly hurting their chances of achieving whatever it is you’re trying to fight for on their behalf.

This year, a mother showed up an intro social science class and wanted to take the test scheduled for the day in her daughter’s place. Her daughter was missing the test for a sorority function, she explained, and she could take the test because they’d studied the material together. The instructor, a grad student, had no idea how to respond to this, and called one of my friends, an academic advisor, to explain that she couldn’t do this, it was a violation of academic integrity and would get her daughter in trouble. He said she never really seemed to get it.

I’m too appalled to post any further.

Can you just see the President of the USA in about 20 years(dear God, that’s still my lifetime)–turning to her parents to see if she should veto a bill?
:eek: <---- that doesn’t show my horror well enough, but it’s all I’ve got.

I’m just not sure you can separate parents, as a group, from the rest of society. You need to think about WHY they’re doing this, what’s driving them.

Where in the media are the reports of averageness? Where are the reports of discomfort being tolerated? In what way have we begun to celebrate being an ordinary member of the faceless masses?

It’s not - it’s all about being Biggest, Best, Most, Happiest, Beautifullest. Self-aggrandizement has become our national raison d’etre.

If a parent is NOT going to helicopter (and I’m not saying they should), then they run the huge risk that the kid won’t be Special.

Now, I believe that not expecting one’s kid to be Special is one of the best gifts a parent can give - but it runs counter to the rest of society.

Don’t get too depressed just yet. For every college student I meet with a helicopter parent, there’s another out there who’s just as sickened by it as I am—I know, I employ nearly a dozen of them at the moment. One can only hope that as more children raised by helicopter parents get out into the Real World™ it will become blatantly obvious why extreme overprotectiveness is just as bad as extreme neglect, and we’ll see this trend go the way of the dodo.

I’m really old now, but I recall well the summer of 1967 when the kids on my side of the street got into a ‘war’ with the kids on the other side of Wilkinson Avenue. All was well for a few hours…we hurled abuse and minor swear words across the road at each other, until one of the other kids’ mum got wind of our feud and decided to join in the revellry.

The skanky 'auld bitch started chucking rocks and stones at us, mightily miffed that we would dare ‘threaten’ her little precious angel. “Fuck that”, we all said in unison…and the granite war started in earnest! :smiley:

Yep, it was fine until the parent waded in to fight their kid’s petty fight. As it was, mum got a crack on the head that needed stitches, and three of the kids ran away bawling with whacks of various sizes and pains.

looks at location

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you build a country from convicts. :stuck_out_tongue: