Helicopter parent

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Helicopter parent is a colloquial, early 21st-century term for 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. They are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not. In Scandinavia, this phenomenon is known as curling parenthood and describes parents who attempt to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children.

An extension of the term, "Black Hawk parents," has been coined for those who cross the line from a mere excess of zeal to unethical behavior, such as writing their children's college admission essays. (The reference is to the military helicopter of the same name.) Some college professors and administrators are now referring to "Lawnmower parents" to describe mothers and fathers who attempt to smooth out and mow down all obstacles, to the extent that they may even attempt to interfere at their children's workplaces, regarding salaries and promotions, after they have graduated from college and are supposedly living on their own.


[edit] Origins

The term "helicopter parents" is a pejorative expression for parents that has been widely used in the media; however, there has been little academic research into the phenomenon. Foster W. Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay defined "helicopter parents" very precisely in a section on "ineffective parenting styles" in their 1990 book Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility[1]. It gained wide currency when American college administrators began using it in the early 2000s as the millennial generation began reaching college age. Their late-wave baby-boomer parents in turn earned notoriety for practices such as calling their children each morning to wake them up for class and complaining to their professors about grades the children had received. Some of these parents had, in fact, chosen the child's college, and hired consultants to help fine-tune the application process. Summer camp officials have also reported similar behavior from parents.[2]

[edit] Explanations

The rise of the cell phone is often blamed for the explosion of helicopter parenting — it has been called "the world's longest umbilical cord"[3]. Parents, for their part, point to rising college tuitions, saying they are just protecting their investment or acting like any other consumer. Newer federal laws, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), have also recognized the importance of family in the educational process.

[edit] Beyond college

As the children of "Helicopter parents" graduate and move into the job market, personnel and Human Resources departments are becoming acquainted with the phenomenon as well. Some have reported that parents have even begun intruding on salary negotiations[4].

[edit] References

  1. ^ Cline, Foster W.; Fay, Jim (1990), Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility, Pinon Press, pp. 23-25, ISBN 0-89109-311-7, http://www.loveandlogic.com 
  2. ^ Kelley, Tina (2008-07-26). "Dear Parents: Please Relax, It's Just Camp". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/26/nyregion/26camp.html. Retrieved on 2008-07-28. 
  3. ^ Briggs, Sarah; Confessions of a 'Helicopter Parent' (.PDF.), retrieved May 1, 2006
  4. ^ Armour, Stephanie (2007-04-23). "'Helicopter' parents hover when kids job hunt" (in English). USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/employment/2007-04-23-helicopter-parents-usat_N.htm. Retrieved on 2007-06-05. 

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