Helicopter parents. It’s a term originally coined in the book “Parenting with Love and Logic” by Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay, and refers to parents who hover over their children like a helicopter. Gay moms and dads, don’t let this be you.
I was not aware of how prevalent helicopter parenting was until I recently had dinner with a friend who is a teacher. She told me that on the first day of school this year she witnessed parents coming in to stock and organize their children’s lockers. Not just one kid’s parents, several.
Oh, and did I mention she is a high school teacher? I thought it was a joke until she reassured me she wasn’t kidding.
She also let me know a kid called her a “bitch” in front of the other students. But, the kid told her, it was just a form of expression and she didn’t mean it as an insult. Even if my friend wanted to do something about it she couldn’t, since schools have stripped teachers of any real power in their classrooms.
I then went on Facebook to ask people for other examples of helicopter parenting. And there was no shortage of responses.
A teacher’s fifth grade class had a parent who tied her daughter’s shoes. A junior volleyball coach saw parents walk up to the bench in the middle of matches to give their girls snacks or a drink.
A friend of mine went to her niece’s slow-pitch softball game and found the 8-year-olds with facemasks on, even the girls in the outfield. Another witnessed a mother who kept her two sons’ college schedules and called them every day, at least twice, to make sure they were doing what they were supposed to be doing.
Some parents take part in the job interviewing process for their recent college grads, going as far as negotiating the salary. One young man got terminated from his job and his dad met with the manager to get his job back. Some employees no longer call in sick to work, their parents do it for them.
A lawyer had to deal with parents who came in to handle the divorce of their children. Someone worked with a mother who cooked dinner for her 30-year-old son every night, doing his laundry and picking out his clothes. A grown married daughter said if she doesn’t answer a call from her mother within 10 minutes, Mom will show up because “something must be wrong.”
What are we doing to our children? I thought being a parent meant you prepare your child for the real world. But helicopter parenting seems incredibly selfish, as if the parents want to make sure their children aren’t prepared for anything and need them for the rest of their lives. That’s an attitude we take with our pets, not human beings.
My girlfriend, Katie, has inspired me to become more physically active, and has explained that the true test of how in shape someone is lies in their ability to recover from exercise, not the exercise itself.
I think that same philosophy can be applied to life. It’s not about avoiding stress and strain; it’s the ability to rebound from it that shows how mature or stable a person is. This new generation of incompetence doesn’t seem to have the ability to handle anything.
According to Dr. Cline and Mr. Fay, parents often fail to hold kids accountable for poor decisions because they are afraid the kids will see their parents as being mean. The result is they often excuse bad behavior, finding it easier to hold others accountable for their children’s irresponsibility.
I say your kids have enough friends, so stop trying to be one and start growing a backbone. Maybe then you can land that helicopter and let your children grow up.
Melissa Carter is former co-host of “The Bert Show” on Q100, where she broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in the city and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Keep up with her at www.melissatimes.com.