Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Helicopter Parenting

Interesting article in this month's O magazine about helicopter parenting. Helicopter parents are the parents who "hover" -- who remain overinvolved in their children's lives even after their kids reach adulthood. Some examples from the story:

- The mother who drives three hours every week to her son's college to do his laundry.

- Moms who contact their children's prospective employers to put in a good word.

- The mom who shares bank accounts with her 24- and 22-year-old sons so she can monitor their spending.

- And my favorite: A young woman who landed a prestigious job right out of college had a birthday coming up. So her mom called her daughter's boss and asked if a cake could be delivered to her daughter while her co-workers sang "Happy Birthday" to her. The boss said, "This is Wall Street. We don't really do that here."

As ridiculous as these may sound, I believe most parents have the potential to hover. Of course we want our kids to succeed and make good decisions, so it's tempting to hold their hands well into their adult lives to make sure they get where we think they need to go.

But what is going to happen to these kids who have everything done for them? I think helicopter parents are unwittingly setting their kids up to ultimately fail.

The truth is that the moment our children are born, we as parents begin the gradual process of letting go. It only gets harder as they get older, but good parenting is preparing our kids for adulthood, and then sending them out into the real world to make their own decisions -- good and bad. I think one of the most essential things we can do as parents is let go.

We all have mental checklists of things we want to do and not do as parents. A new one on my list is "don't hover."

And another one: "Teach the kids how to do laundry before they graduate from high school."


  • At Tue Jul 01, 06:57:00 AM, Blogger HW said…

    I was shocked when I entered college and so many freshmen didn't know how to do laundry. I had started doing my own laundry very young, so this was eye opening. My kids have known how to do laundry since they were 8; and now at 14 and 17 they basically do their own all the time. See? I learned a lot in college.

    I read that same article and thought it was horrifying what those mothers were doing. They were certainly not doing their kids any favors. But yes, it is hard not to hover. Our son is at wrestling camp this week and he has told us several times DO NOT CALL ME WHILE I'M THERE.

  • At Tue Jul 01, 01:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    While preaching about the family, our Pastor once said that it is our responsibility as parents to train our children moving them from depending on us to depending on God. That has stuck with me, and while it is a difficult task, it makes parenting far more purposeful than just "getting them out of the house alive!"

    I pray that I can be an example to my children of leaning on the Lord for all things. I hope to equip them with the skills needed to be adults (laundry, cooking, bill paying), but mostly I hope to nurture the faith they will need to rely on God every minute of every day.

    I'm a Believer!

  • At Wed Jul 02, 06:39:00 AM, Blogger Pegc said…

    Yeah. Many thought we were heartless when we told both our girls they could go to college anywhere (where we could afford) but the one in our own town! That is because we believed they needed to go somewhere else and be on their own for their sake and ours!

    We also started them on the road to independence early. During their Junior High and High School years they were required to earn money, either by working for me or getting a job (babysitting and later actual part time jobs after school) and buy their own clothes. This taught them that money does not grow on trees and they have to budget for the things they want.

    It was very interesting how the two spent their money very differently. The first one, Jamie, wanted lots of clothes and went to Walmart. The second one, Mindy, wanted only name brand clothes and would not be caught dead in Walmart buying clothes!

    It is hard but very rewarding to see your children grow up, leave home and have happy lives independent of yours. And the time alone again with your mate is amazingly fun. Of course I believe that probably most of those "hovering" parents had no relationship with their mate because they put all their energy into their children.

    Be watchful. You must invest time with your spouse while raising your children so that when that alone time comes, you actually still like each other!

  • At Wed Jul 02, 08:54:00 AM, Blogger Sarah P said…

    I know I'm going to struggle with this one. Not so much to the extreme once they get to adulthood, but I know letting them do the little independence things will be difficult at first. When they ride their bikes out of eye and ear-shot it will be heart wrenching the first time they do it. I remember asking my mom about how she dealt with that when I was younger (I was such the prodigy) and she said she just prayed and let me go. She said she knew that if she didn't, I would be the one to suffer, even though she felt safer if I only rode my bike in the driveway. Oh, this mom thing is tough stuff!
    So does Julia make a helicopter sound to you now when you start hovering? Because if she hasn't started doing that, I'm willing to teach her.

  • At Wed Jul 02, 10:05:00 PM, Blogger Jacinda said…

    I have heard about 'helicopter parenting.' Sometimes I think I do a good job of not doing this. Other times.....I know I fail miserably! It is hard to let go, but I do believe that it's necessary to do so little by little in order to teach them independence. I like what Laura said, "...moving them from depending on us to depending on God." That's a good way to look at it.

  • At Thu Jul 03, 08:20:00 AM, Blogger KentF said…

    I think there's a big difference between an involved parent, and the hilarious stories noted here. Go watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding again. Those parents didn't hover - they dictated.

  • At Sat Jul 05, 08:24:00 AM, Blogger Nellie's Nuggets said…

    We taught our kids to do their own laundry when they were still in elementary school. One pair of pink underwear for our son was a great lesson! :) It was great having everyone do their own laundry. Then we just had to deal with the arguments about who "had dibs on the washer!"


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