Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Helicopter Parents

In the past few years, "helicopter parent" has become quite a familiar term. I have witnessed many parents who are literally their teenager's alarm clock, putting breakfast on the table, writing their papers for them, telling them where they have to be and how to get there.

Wikepedia defines a helicopter parents as "A parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. These parents rush to prevent any harm or failure from befalling them and will not let them learn from their own mistakes, sometimes even contrary to the children's wishes."

Helicopter parents are allegedly the parents of Generation Y, although some experts may argue that generations before were slowly evolving into what they are today.

Does this sound normal or healthy to you? We can expand on this definition by stating that these parents hover over their children, regardless of where they are. It amazes me how much some parents know about their children's business. How about letting the kids learn on their own? They need to learn how to navigate through their own problems, and, frankly, I think some of the children probably have better judgement than their parents.

Although my parents were extremely involved in our lives, there came a time when my sisters and I didn't need them hovering over us. We certainly didn't report in to them every day. As an adult, I would say I may talk to them once a week, but if I don't, nobody worries. We are close, but they don't know everything about me (unless they read this, than they know more than I would normally tell them.) I would say we have healthy relationships.

What is with these heli-rents? (I just made that up). I have witnessed a helicopter parent up close and personal. I thought it was totally weird. And unhealthy. And probably contributes to Brain Cancer from all the cell phone calls. (joke) I don't need to talk to my parents when I have a problem - that's what friends are for. I don't want to ask them advice on how to handle the most recent fight I had with my boyfriend. I'm 28!

The strangest helicopter parent situation I have ever seen was a seventy something year old parent with a forty something adult child. The phone calls and the constantly remaining in contact was very bizarre to me. I had never seen anything like it.

I decided to write about this topic because I was with three girlfriends last night - one who is a teacher. She was telling us about a situation she had with some parents who behaved badly. They were too involved with their kid's situation, for one. I said "That's something you have to put up with these days. These Helicopter parents are way too into their children's business. It's not right." Here we were, four women, who I spend a lot of time with. We just surpassed Gen Y (arguably). I am pretty sure that while we have mentioned that our parents exist, nobody has ever had to take a call from them while we were together. None of us have ever had to call them, either.

Look, I know my parents can probably give me some excellent advice. They are worldly, sophisticated people. Both of them. I am proud of how progressive they are, compared to most parents I knew growing up. But to me, there is something unhealthy about relying on them too much. Even when we were in the same town, I probably only saw them a few times a month. That, to me, is healthy.

I think it was in the "Times" the other day - an article about parents going to interviews with their kids? What is that all about?

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