The style of overprotective and overinvolved parenting known as “helicopter parenting” is the focus of new research. Examples abound of parents who “cross the line” from expressing a healthy interest and involvement in their children’s lives to hovering. Of course, protecting and helping one’s child are normal parental instincts. As young people mature, though, other not-so-instinctual parenting skills are called for, like helping children learn to make their own decisions and face consequences of their actions. There is a balance to be struck—studies show that teens with actively involved parents not only do better in school but are more likely to enroll in college. Moreover, higher levels of parental involvement correlate to a more positive college experience for students.
Despite the amount of negative attention “helicopter parents” have received in the media, they are a fairly rare species. But you know their basic traits: they can be spotted storming into the school office when Johnny gets a C when he thought he deserved an A; or bringing forgotten homework or lunch money; or picking up SAT applications for a kid who isn’t even planning to go to college; or not only filling out college applications for their child but writing their application essays as well.
Much is being learned about “best practices” in the parenting of maturing teens (not an oxymoron). Rather than micromanage, parents need to help develop decision-making skills. The parent-as-coach provides structure, shares strategies for staying organized, gives advice, and models behavior such as how to negotiate with an authority figure without becoming confrontational. Parents also need to take advantage of opportunities for dialogue; after all, the most important parental skill may listening.
- Are You a “Helicopter Parent”?
This brief “Eye on Parenting” article focuses on the phenomenon of the hovering, hyperinvolved parent; includes a link to a video interview with a psychologist on the topic.
(Source: CBS News, August 18, 2010)
- Confessions of a (Sometimes) Helicopter Parent
This article puts one mom’s first-person account of close interaction with her first-year college student in the context of parenting issues.
(Source: Inside Higher Ed, July 16, 2010)
- Helicopter Parents Reconsidered
This article discusses pros and cons of parental involvement with about-to-be-college-age children, in searching for a healthy balance; includes a quiz for parents to take.
(Source: CollegeBoard.com; accessed August 31, 2010)
- How to Ground a “Helicopter Parent”
This article presents positive approaches parents can take as their teenage children mature.
(Source: CNN, August 19, 2010)