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Helicopter Parents - The latest crisis in parenting, or another constructed social problem?

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posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 02:42 PM
I'm not raising kids at present, and don't want to upset or undervalue anybody who undertakes this vital and demanding task nowadays.

However, I have some friends with kids, and one who's pregnant, and for those with kids who are reaching their first decade of life, I've seen some disturbing behaviors.

I couldn't quite put my finger on the problem, because the kids are not really over-indulged or lazy.
In fact, they have high demands made upon them.
They play an array of sports and chess, and whatnot.
Yet, even during an adult evening the kids are constantly present, to the point of annoyance.
For the five minutes that they actually play in the entertainment provided for them (at a venue chosen by and for the kids for that very purpose), all I hear is how perfect the kid is, how he reads to other kids, and how he's going to be a brain surgeon.

Then, even if the food has barely been served, and another round of drinks has arrived, the kid decides he wants to go home, and in ten minutes the bill is paid and we're all in the car headed for home, because he can't be late for his all-night sleepover that he just demanded.

To crown it all, the kid throws a fit in the car because he lost a game of snooker against his dad, and the kid cannot stand to lose (he actually threatened to burn the house down).
The grandparents even cheat at board-games to always make him win.
The mom laughs it off, and fondly tells me: "He's such a born over-achiever, he cannot stand to lose"!

During the time at the restaurant the toilet door to the men's bathroom had to stay open, because the mother had read somewhere that kids could be molested in restaurant cubicles (actually unheard of), so whenever a male patron closed the door, the father would rush from the table and open it again.

Now I see on a social network site that the mom wants to know if she can put up the Christmas tree (start of November), because the child wants it now.
Some people had some underhand criticism that he rules the house already, so why not?

It's actually a sweet kid, and especially in SA parents should be concerned about crime.
The parents are (at least nominally) evangelical Christians, and I've heard that he also gets spanked, and "spoiled" doesn't quite apply.
But I really thought that something was also inappropriate, paranoid and downright strange about this.

Then I read an article titled Toughen Up, Kid by Susan Hayden (Discovery magazine, Spring; Summer 2012; Issue 46, Pp. 32-36).
The article concerned the growing phenomenon of "Helicopter Parents".
The name has been known since the 1960s, although it's only become widespread recently.
Apparently it comes from the habit of such parents to constantly hover over their children like helicopters (a tendency that seems to bounce back from the kids).

The descriptions by Hayden had some remarkable overlap with what I've seen lately.

Firstly there's special diets and claims of food allergies, which are mostly assumptions without real proof.
Ultimately it's well-meaning but claustrophobic parenting that smothers natural growth, and leads to narcissists who think only they and their needs and opinions matter.
Team-work becomes very difficult for helicoptered children.

As Hayden (p.32) puts it:

The fear that something bad will happen to their child if they're not watched 24/7 is the driving force behind "helicopter parenting". This fear is mitigated by a new kind of performance anxiety - that children of "helicopter parents" will somehow be left behind or end up as under-achievers if they're not constantly monitored or pushed to do their best. At the same time, this development sees a troubling disregard for old-fashioned boundaries and what was once considered to be appropriate behavior. Who hasn't been to a dinner party that was usurped by a treacherous, pyjama-clad four-year-old who was allowed to eat all the entrees and demanded constant attention?"

Is parenting circumstantial and are such stereotypes unhelpful, or is there a truth to helicopter parenting?

edit on 4-11-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 02:53 PM
In my opinion, helicopter parenting is a disaster waiting to happen. We need to teach/allow our kids to make decisions/mistakes (within reason of course), and take care of themselves. Otherwise, when they're 18 or 19 years old and move out they won't be able to effectively do these things on their own.
edit on 4-11-2012 by tinker9917 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 02:54 PM
There's truth to it, IMO.

We parents sometimes forget that our children learn best by experiments, or by trying to do it for themselves. Failure and pain is part of the learning process.

To quote Dory in Finding Nemo, "What kind of life is that if he never gets to do anything?"

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 02:54 PM
An insightful article by Nancy Gibbs on helicopter parenting from Time Magazine, about the backlash against over-protective parenting:
edit on 4-11-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 02:55 PM
Parents are over protective because the way the media portrays the world.

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 02:55 PM
Never heard of the phrase.

I would only apply it to the parents who hover, interfere or give their child no privacy or freedom to be a real child.
The parents you described are something else altogether. They're arrogant, rude people. I would just call them assholes.

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 03:33 PM
reply to post by violet

I'd have to agree to a point, and I sometimes had the impression that the child (perhaps going on 10) was actually already much smarter than his parents, and their narrowing mythologies.

I won't say they're dysfunctional in any way.

I've seen other kids like that too.

The parents try hard to make a living and come from backgrounds that were not focused on education.
Back then it was a different world, and even poor or uneducated white people could make a living in state institutions like the civil service, or the police.
It was not crucial for women to finish school, or to have a career.

But now the world has become a very hard place in an economic sense.
Everything costs a fortune.
We pay tax for public health, but it's fallen into such a bad state that people want private medical insurance.
Public education isn't good enough, so they have to invest in private Christian schooling.
Ultimately if you want security, you can't rely on the cops, but a private firm.
Everything the state was once supposed to supply is now privatized.
People still have to pay the tax to carry the historically "under-developed", but they really receive very little for it.

So they want to be upwardly mobile, and they want their kids to maintain that.

I think considering Affirmative Action here, he'll probably have to study abroad.

So I can see how this inward looking thinking creates a great deal of anxiety in the middle class, and ultimately that does create psychological consequences for adults and their kids.

edit on 4-11-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 03:43 PM
Perhaps helicopter parenting has always existed?

From the Nancy Gibb Time article above:

Overparenting had been around long before Douglas MacArthur's mom Pinky moved with him to West Point in 1899 and took an apartment near the campus, supposedly so she could watch him with a telescope to be sure he was studying. But in the 1990s something dramatic happened, and the needle went way past the red line. From peace and prosperity, there arose fear and anxiety; crime went down, yet parents stopped letting kids out of their sight; the percentage of kids walking or biking to school dropped from 41% in 1969 to 13% in 2001. Death by injury has dropped more than 50% since 1980, yet parents lobbied to take the jungle gyms out of playgrounds, and strollers suddenly needed the warning label "Remove Child Before Folding." Among 6-to-8-year-olds, free playtime dropped 25% from 1981 to '97, and homework more than doubled. Bookstores offered Brain Foods for Kids: Over 100 Recipes to Boost Your Child's Intelligence. The state of Georgia sent every newborn home with the CD Build Your Baby's Brain Through the Power of Music, after researchers claimed to have discovered that listening to Mozart could temporarily help raise IQ scores by as many as 9 points

Read more:

Luckily for Douglas MacArthur's mom the Internet hadn't been invented yet!
edit on 4-11-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 04:38 PM
I know someone who was raised by a helicopter parent. His life is a mess and his mother blames it on everything but him. Of course, he can't get a job because he is to emotionally fragile. He has addictions because his dad walked out on him. He can't go to jail for unpaid speeding tickets that he never paid because it was to stressful, because he can't defend himself so mummy has to bail him out. Sad thing is his mother thinks she is being a good mom.

She has asked me many times "Well, what would you do if it was your kid?" I love my kids dearly, but sometimes you have to let them fall flat on their face.

I am also not the type to freak out over every bump and scratch like another friend of mine. If her kid gets a minor scratch it's an hour long process to prevent possible infection and scarring. Soap water and a band aide is not enough.
IMHO good parenting is preparing your kids to handle all the things life throws at you, not protecting them from it.

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 05:10 PM
reply to post by calstorm

I'd certainly concur with the drama involved by minor cuts and wounds in helicopter kids.

Although some do have allergies, many are placed on restrictive anti-allergen diets, or an array of medications quite needlessly.

edit on 4-11-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 05:31 PM
Helicopter parents hovering over college campuses.

Oh my hat!

The cellular phone is the new "umbilical cord".

Bea Fields discusses how to cut the college cord with "Gen Y" adults.

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 05:47 PM
Helicopter Mom job interview:

posted on Nov, 4 2012 @ 10:14 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Remove child before folding

Poor kids. I tell mine when they fall or get a little booboo" you'll be fine" (some times I can't hold in a laugh)and the looks I get from some parents is hilarious. I mean really, if you didn't bust an artery, break a bone, and you can still see I'm sure you'll live. Kids need to learn life skills also, if you turn them out with no skills the little boogers will come right back after high school to eat all your food and make you wash their gross undies.

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 04:53 PM
reply to post by stonebutterfly

Oh my, I love your humour.
Can we clone you and put one of you in every household that has a child????

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 11:48 PM
Kids need to laugh at themselves. It's good for them. I don't want mine to grow up and be those people that get offended at everything and whiny if anything happens. Life is already too serious.

posted on Nov, 6 2012 @ 01:49 AM
reply to post by halfoldman

I won't say they're dysfunctional in any way.

but they are, and they don't LOVE their kid enough to put the clamps down..i.e. a spank'n on his butt and stood in the corner for 10mins..

whatever happened to a time out ?

they're teaching him disrepect for authority..and at the age of 18, they'll wounder why he's always in jail or worse..

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