Helicopter Parents

Helicopter Parents

Ah, Baby Boomers. They didn’t just mess up their generation; they’re actively working to mess up the next. Helen Reynolds links to a Newsweek article on “Helicopter Parents”, Boomer parents who “hover so long that their offspring never gets a chance to grow up.” From the Newsweek article:

Some boomer parents hang on, propelled by love (of course) and insecurity about how the world will treat their children. After years of supervising homework, they think nothing of editing the papers their college students have e-mailed them. A few even buy textbooks and follow the course syllabi. Later they’re polishing student résumés and calling in favors to get summer internships. Alarmed by these intrusions into what should be a period of increasing independence, colleges around the country have set up parent-liaison offices to limit angry phone calls to professors and deans. Parent orientations, usually held alongside the student sessions, teach how to step aside.

Reynolds adds:

Is it just one more selfish boomer characteristic that they feel their child is an extension of themselves and they try to live vicariously through them, or is it the fear that the kid will come home to live in the parent’s basement if they do not succeed? Either way, wouldn’t it be best to teach one’s child independence and how to care for themselves?

Melanie said she saw a “Dear Abby” in the newspaper the other day about a 24-year-old living at home who admits he doesn’t know how to use a checkbook or do his taxes and when he asks his parents about it, they laugh at him. I’ve been saying for a long time that we keep extending adolescence to later and later in life. It used to be that when you reached 15 or 16, you were considered a man or a woman, you got married, you set out in your chosen profession and that was that. I think that was about 100 years ago. Now you see people as late as 30 still living at home, acting like they’re still in college, having mom do their laundry and playing video games all day and night. This is adulthood?

But it’s not their fault alone; their parents have a lot to answer for. Yes, I know that there are many Boomer-age parents who are not this way, and there are many of their kids who are motivated and mature. I’m sure that describes much of my readership. But you’re the exception. Unfortunately, it seems that much of your generations are quite different.

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  • The universities used to function in loco parentis, meaning they cared for the discipline and moral well-being of the student as a parent would.  Helicopter parents are a side-effect of the mistrust dissolute universities have created. 

    On the other hand, colleges sometimes do function in loco parentis, but only as the kind of sick parent who wants to be their child’s cool friend by providing sex, booze, nonjudgementalism, and personal affirmation.

  • I’m still technically a 20 something. I’m 29. You’re married? You have a family? Not just one or two, but a third coming?

    There are some factors in many of my generation living at home. It takes longer to get an edcuation. I went straight from high school, to college, to law school. I just turned 25 when I graduated for law school. With a post graduate goal a common expectation, we are in school longer.

    So we have student loans, plus living costs for a young family in Massachusetts anyways is tough. Also there are many “toys” geared toward adult males. I so cringe when I see grown men waiting in line to buy a Play Station.

    It seems that many singles or couples without children are always trying to keep in line with the best technology (i.e. cell phones, cars, computers), rather then using what they have until it truely needs to be replaced and upgrades. 

    Also there is this sense of material accomplish that must occur before one can settle down. My husband and I romance about our empty apartment we moved into, when we got married. Many baby boomers would consider it crazy to married before obtaining “stuff”, like a completely furnished home.

    As a child I always thought it was unfair that many “smart” children in school were actually just tutored by their parents the night before the teacher taught the assignment.

  • As a child I always thought it was unfair that many “smart” children in school were actually just tutored by their parents the night before the teacher taught the assignment.

    Renee, so true.  I worked with a woman who did homework with (for) her daughter in high school.  She even took courses at the jr. college that her daughter took, while working full time, so that they could study together.  The daughter was a sullen, talentless twit who took up with “burn-out” friends which made her mother nuts.

    The most normal family in our subdivision is conservative and has four children who are actually allowed to run around the neighborhood with friends without the mother hovering anxiously for fear of perverts.  It is so refreshing!

    By the way, did anyone read the recent WSJ article about parents who want to go on job interviews with their kids and who call to negotiate salaries?  Yes, and there are company spokespersons who actually think this is acceptable!

  • I’m a big fan of Gregory Popcack’s book Raising “almost” perfect Catholic children.

    One of his best tips is allowing pre-schoolers to do chores that they are capable of doing even if it isn’t done perfectly. I know it is easier for parents at this stage to just do it themselves, because it is quicker and easier but the miss the teaching aspect of making their children responisble.

    I will hold my four year old responsible to clean her toy room, of course it isn’t perfect but it is decluttered. Usually when she goes to bed I pick up afterwars. Or I’ll ask my two year old to put away his shoes. Little things like that, in which the child knows that he or she is responsible for something.

    I caught my mother in law doing an errand for my younger sister in law, who was 17 at the time. My mother in law was going to run to wal-mart for her, while my sister in law went out with her friend. I mentioned that since my sister in law had a car, she was capable of doing it herself with her friend.

    My mother in law took back the offer, and asked my sister in law to do it herself. The thing was, my sister in law didn’t even ask for my mother in law to do it for her. It must of seemed easier at the moment for my mother in law to just run the errand.

  • I think we need to bring back the Draft (…or some kind of compulsory public service). For a couple of generations it was a rite of passage for young men. It crossed all socio-economic boundaries and emphasized our collective responsibility to God and country. Sadly, it only seems predominantly poor whites and minorities take advantage of the opportunities afforded by today’s volunteer military. Yeah, war stinks and those who can afford college avoid the military with a plague, let alone the lessons of any other public service. It seems our society is more classist than ever, with young elites raised with little or no sense of giving back to society at large.

    Young men (and women) grow up very quickly at age 17 and 18 when faced with the culture shock of boot camp and its emphasis learning to follow orders. Recruit learn to take orders before they can give them. Individual pride is completely set aside. Boot camp can work wonders in fostering self discipline and teamwork that can carry into all aspects of life.  It takes focus off self.

    I missed the draft by three years, having been abolished in 1973. At age 18 (I was born in 1958), I entered the U.S. Air Force, and subsequently the Air Force Academy. This was my experience. Admittedly, it was during the relatively peaceful post-Vietnam Carter years (1976-80). My service continues to leave an indelible mark on my outlook toward my fellow man as a civilian, both as an American and as a Catholic. 

    Given the narcissistic hyper-individualism that has been exalted by the cultural libertines since the sixties, I think a return compulsory service of some form could serve as a wake up call for the “Question Authority” crowd that continues to fuel the culture war.  I sometimes worry, what are we in for in the next few years? With many Boomers retiring, they will have a lot of time on their hands to revisit the “moon bat” activism of their youth to influence another generation. Yikes!!

    I recently I saw a bumper sticker that queried,…


    This says it all.

  • I consider myself as an attached parent, as does Gregory Popcack. Which means I don’t punish my child with assault and battery, instead I use natural consequences for improper behaviors and such.  Being a parent means being in emotional control of yourself, not out of control in anger.

    Yes, I do listen to my four year old and I teach her to use words to express her feelings and thoughts. It doesn’t mean I agree with her, or let her make the choices but I do value her as a person. I also explain why I do things in an appropriate manner.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents but argh I cringe when my parents use to say “because I say ‘so’”. It would lessen a lot of our fighting and struggles if they could just explain to me the value they wanted to teach me.  Yeah, there are a lot of do overs but it is so nice to see a child learn coping skills and being able to communicate.

  • You dress the “helicopter parents” up, call them Catholic and you have attachment parenting.

    Excuse me “call them Catholic”


    I’m very Catholic.

    Mary you made negative comment with no explaination, this is exactly what I mean by “out of control”. I grew up with parents felt entitled that they shouldn’t have to explain themselves because well… they are the parents. I had a duty to explain myself on what attachment parenting is as in Gregory Popcack’s very Catholic book..

    Yes, my sons will know NFP as well as my daughters, i will probably give them sample charts. As someone who was dosed up on birth control, only taught of AIDS, and sex was only for pleasure yes my sons wil know how to chart.

    CPT Tom, I was merely explaining what it means to be an attached parent. It means no spanking. We don’t solve things with violence.

    Sidenote: My parents aren’t meanies or anything. Parenting can be stressful, but we’re the adults and calm down ourselves and respond in a healthy manner resolving problems.