Everyone knows the term “helicopter parent.”
Those are the Mommies and Daddies that hover around the baby birdies constantly. They have a reputation for being…overprotective, to put it mildly. They were first noticed by teachers several years ago, and their pervasive habit of making teachers’ jobs miserable with constant phone calls and conferences. But people thought they would grow out of it when the kids turned 18 and went to college.
They didn’t. The hovering parents followed their kids to college, calling up professors, making demands, and generally being a huge pain. But it was okay, because everyone thought the parents would grow out of it when their kids graduated college and got jobs.
Grab your blankies and read on. Tell me if you think it’s time the helicopter parents finally grew up.
Never Never Land
NPR recently reported that the helicopter parents have not grown up. Just like in elementary school, all the way up to college, parents are now following their kids into the workplace. Yep. Submitting resumes on behalf of kids, calling employers to demand more compensation for their precious kiddies, attending job interviews, and generally being a pain to human resource departments.
And much like the elementary teachers, soccer coaches, and resident assistants before them, employers are learning that fighting a helicopter parent is futile. They will not leave. They cannot be silenced. Resisting them only creates an enemy you don’t want. The Scandinavians call it “curling” parents, trying to sweep every obstacle out of their childrens’ way.
I Don’t Have to Grow Up
Maybe it’s because my brother and I were raised to be self sufficient adults, but I cannot imagine my parents following me to my workplace like that, much less my college, much less my high school. I thought the goal was for kids to be able to take care of parents in their old age. How can that ever happen if kids are never allowed to take care of themselves? It’s bad enough that most people have to move back home after college, but this is pathetic.
And we wonder why so many kids have no initiative. Why on earth should a young person ever learn to do anything when Mom or Dad will continue to do it? Why move out of the house, submit resumes, fold laundry, cook dinner, or do anything remotely adult (including finding a date)? Maybe that’s the whole idea.
The Family Safety Net
Helicopter parents are stuck in a cycle. They don’t want their kids to fail or falter. So they keep the safety net in place by hovering around, making sure things go smoothly. It starts with parents helping their hapless tots at the Easter egg hunt. Who hasn’t seen a parent saying, “Look to your right…no your other right.”
As soon as a hovering parent steps back, the kid is likely to falter for a while. It takes a while of bumbling around for kids to figure life out. The problem, perhaps, is most helicopter parents can’t stand to watch their kids fumble and bumble as long as they need to in order to become independent. So the safety net stays deployed forever, and kids continue to live protected, bubble-wrapped, babyproofed lives, supervised by Mom and Dad.
Employers are right to throw out resumes submitted by parents at job fairs. It’s pathetic. It shows that the kid has no initiative and probably could not care less about working for that company.
Part of becoming an adult is learning from mistakes. If the grown up kids end up sticking their fingers in a light socket, or eating ramen noodles out of a frisbee every night, let them. They’ll figure it out.
What do you think? Is “hovering” good parenting, or do parents need to back off? How do you know when it’s time to let a kid fend for themselves?