'Parenting Out of Control'

<p>A stimulating article, profiling a new book:
News:</a> 'Parenting Out of Control' - Inside Higher Ed</p>

<p>"... professors charge that the trend (of helicopter parenting) contributes to the ignorance or laziness of today's students ...."</p>

<p>Sigh ... another book on this tired subject. Let's get real here ... professors want the freedom to fail non-performing students in an social environment where (many) parents see failure as "not an option."</p>

<p>

If some of these parents see failure as not an option, they certainly have not conveyed that sentiment to their children.</p>

<p>There's an important nuance missing from that article. Helicopter parenting may be an "elite professional class" phenomenon, but at least where I live it is decidedly declasse among the elite (although less so than when I was a kid, when the one set of helicopter parents among my friends was openly mocked by everyone). Most of the people I know in the elite professional class tend to be more hands-off, preferring to let their children make their own mistakes (and trusting that their children's innate intelligence will ultimately produce decent results). We have one set of friends who are "helicoptery", and it's a more-or-less constant source of tension with them (especially for my wife, who sees their inappropriate involvement in their college-aged children's lives as a serious moral failing). Hardly any of my kids' friends had helicopter-type parents. Their high schools tolerated -- barely -- some degree of parental involvement, but on the whole tended to discourage it.</p>

<p>I remember going to middle school parent potlucks, and everyone would be sitting around complaining about what a pain it was to deal with the X family, whose parents insisted on passing judgment on what movies their 14 year-old was allowed to see, and who objected to kids doing anything without direct adult supervision. That certainly wasn't the norm for this particular elite professional community.</p>

<p>Of course, cell phones and e-mail mean that EVERYONE has more contact than anyone did in my generation.</p>

<p>The helicoptering has gotten to such an extent where I teach that the most elite subdivisions have formed a not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to help "the gifted child." They are on the schools' doorsteps all the time, and all parents that join (the peer pressure to do so is extreme, because otherwise your child won't be considered "gifted") receive a huge notebook ranking teachers with grades given (based on a survey of their members,) amount of homework, etc. These parents are the bane of our existence. And if every child of these parents were truly gifted, that would mean about 50% of our students would be. Just watered down the term, didn't we? Not only is failure not an option with these parents, but neither are B's, and C's (God forbid)...</p>

<p>INterestingly, this article actually says that kids don't really get hurt by this "parenting out of control" and that they benefit.</p>

<p>
[quote]
"There is no surprise here. Children of “helicopter parents” are children of the elite. They have learned how to communicate with professional middle-class adults; they are comfortable with the discussion of intellectual ideas; and they know how to negotiate with authority until they have their needs met. Those who come to college from a less privileged background might have different satisfactions from their experiences, including a stronger sense of self-reliance. Some of these satisfactions might pale in comparison to the struggles they face as they seek to catch up with those with elite secondary educations. Even so, they often perform extremely well and their achievements are, more often, entirely their own."

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Until the world becomes a less competitive place, which seems not to be happening, until the schools stop actively pursuing applications and marketing their schools to increasingly large pools of international students and until the cost of a college education comes into line with inflationary pressure? Why on earth would parents cease to give their children the advantages that they know they will need if they are not, in fact, highly sought out URM's or perfect score, AP scholars.....The pressure to perform is really not from parents but from schools which nowadays actually threaten to rescind admissions for seniors who might even relax in the two month tradition of senioritis....</p>

<p>I love when academic institutions attempt to criticize parents for responding to the pressures they themselves have imposed through their own pressure to perform and succeed.</p>

<p>Interesting observation JHS, as I too, have often thought it was NOT an elite phenomenon and more of a phenomenon amoung families that aspire to upward mobility.</p>

<p>Couldn't find the actual paper yet, but article about how helicopter parents are creating neurotic kids.</p>

<p>'Helicopter</a>' Parents Have Neurotic Kids, Study Suggests | LiveScience</p>

<p>I hate helicopter parents. THey ruin EVERYTHING. If their kid gets a bad grade, they phone and have it changed. If their kid texts in class, they yell at the teacher for taking their phone. If their child does anything bad, they always defend their kid and make discipline nearly impossible. My parents left me alone for my schooling and I learned to fend for myself. Let your kids grow up and BACK OFF</p>

<p>These conversations get out of control because of the inability to precisely define the pejorative term "helicopter parent." It means different things to different people and the accusation gets thrown around without care. We can all agree that parents who review every test, quiz, and homework assignment with the teacher are overstepping and harming their children, but the parent who goes to bat for a child treated unfairly by teachers, administrators, coaches, or peers is not necessarily doing their child harm and may be doing serious good, both for the child and the community. We're it not for some of these involved parents, I have little doubt our schools would be less than they are today.</p>

<p>I would caution anyone who writes in this thread to be careful about the term and the definition.</p>

<p>Interestingly, Rocket, people like you are THE most likely to become helicopter parents, if you look at the psychological profile....so, keep that in mind as you get older.</p>

<p>Me, I've never gotten involved in my kid's work, but I can say that there have been teachers, and this begins at a very, very young age, who send home projects kids could never possibly complete on thier own.</p>

<p>I can recall standing at the invention assembly and looking at the projects the teachers were most proudly displaying, and these were NOT projects done by 5th graders, but projects done by the parents. Those of us who'd allowed our kids to do their own projects were left confused by our children's B's and C's.</p>

<p>I've seen the molecule projects being marched into school by the kids, and these were not completed by the kids, but by the parents. When I finally, not in a special call, but during a parent teacher conference asked about how the teachers graded these projects, I was told, "Well, we DO expect a certain amount of parent involvement in these things." Raised eyebrows by the teacher.</p>

<p>So, the facts are simple, you can allow your kid to do it by themself, or you can play along with the expectations of the school that the parents will do a significant amount of the finishing work, but the schools, which are the beneficiaries of all of this assistance, particularly the teachers, do not then get to complain about the parents. </p>

<p>Oh, wait! They do.</p>

<p>It's a bad time to be a mother in America. you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don't. I don't know why we continue to attack each other. I'd never do the things the so called helicopter parents do. But, I understand why they do and I'm not going to criticize them even more for their feelings of fear and insecurity.</p>

<p>To each his own.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Interestingly, Rocket, people like you are THE most likely to become helicopter parents, if you look at the psychological profile....so, keep that in mind as you get older.

[/quote]

I've never been more grateful that I'm not planning on having children</p>

<p>And then there were the projects that parents probably thought were done by the parents, but really were done by the kids. I taught my oldest to use Excel in 2nd grade. He spent hours putting together electric circuits in first grade and he could tell you the difference between a capacitor and a resistor at that age.</p>

<p>mathmom-- I'm talking about projects which took industrial materials and were honestly not extremely well-developed adolescent projects. Also, if it was the one or two kids, fine....but the parents were standing next to the completely constructed project and assisting the kid in the explanation. These were industrial grade prototypes. These were the children of engineers and architects. These were kids who could not explain how the thing worked, not really. It was ridiculous.</p>

<p>But, like I said earlier, I'm really not going to attack these parents. I think the culture has created this incredibly ridiculous situation which brings out the competitive anxiety in many parents, and I think they are doing the best that they can with what they have.</p>

<p>Or as it says in the "neurotic" article above:</p>

<p>
[quote]
Montgomery notes that the findings only show an association, and not a direct cause-effect link, meaning all children with helicopter parents don't necessarily turn out this way. However, he thinks the research should encourage parents to think about what they are doing as they raise their children, and be aware that there is such a thing as over-parenting. </p>

<p>He hopes the work leads to more research in the area, including large studies on different populations of children, such as high-school and middle-school students. Future studies will hopefully bring about a clearer picture of helicopter parenting, Montgomery said. </p>

<p>"People keep talking about it like everyone knows what it is," Montgomery said. "And it's not clear that anyone really knows what it is, other than the people they know personally who are doing these things."

[/quote]
</p>

<p>poetgrl, i know EXACTLY what u're talking about (with the projects). have witnessed the same on more than one occasion. super-duper absurd. </p>

<p>this thread and the "the going away part of..." thread started by theDad remind me that i want to see that movie "babies". parenting styles are so different based on culture.</p>

<p>I also have been annoyed at helicopter parenting and agree that, painful as it is, kids really need to be allowed to fail if they are determined to do so. In my experience, negative consequences are a far better teacher than any parental lectures can be.</p>

<p>One small quibble though; JHS wrote:
I remember going to middle school parent potlucks, and everyone would be sitting around complaining about what a pain it was to deal with the X family, whose parents insisted on passing judgment on what movies their 14 year-old was allowed to see, and who objected to kids doing anything without direct adult supervision. That certainly wasn't the norm for this particular elite professional community</p>

<p>Err...is passing judgement on movies a 14 year old was allowed to see "helicopter parenting"? I sure as heck passed plenty of judgement when my middle-schooler wanted to see the R rated "Saw". Granted, we did let him see "The Matrix" which was also R rated, but I already had seen it and determined that it was worthy of an exception to the rule.</p>

<p>I'd never have allowed any 14 year old visiting my home to watch an R rated movie without first getting parental permission. I'd have expected to catch h*ll for it when they found out, and rightly so.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Let's get real here ... professors want the freedom to fail non-performing students in an social environment where (many) parents see failure as "not an option."

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Speaking as a long time college professor, we already have this freedom and many of us regularly make use of it.</p>

<p>It's annoying if a parent calls me about his/her child's "failure to perform", but I politely tell them that because of the Buckley amendment, I can only discuss the situation with their child. I've told more than one parent they need to talk to their child and they need to tell their child to come speak with me.</p>

<p>Have you actually had parents call you about thier student's grades???????</p>

<p>That's astonishing.</p>

<p>Joblue: I used that example precisely because it WOULDN'T be noncontroversial. By the time our kids were in 8th grade, most (not all) of the parents of their friends had stopped censoring what they watched. Obviously, that wasn't universal, and everyone struggled to find a way to respect others' needs. But the parents who were really restrictive were a big fat pain. The point is that in that community, which was pretty much "the professional elite", the mainstream was extremely hands-off. No one did their kids' homework with them, either.</p>

<p>It wasn't, by the way, that I thought there was nothing that was inappropriate for a 14-year-old. It was that I trusted my 14-year-olds to figure out where the line was for themselves. As my parents had trusted me.</p>

<p>poetgirl:</p>

<p>
[quote]
Have you actually had parents call you about thier student's grades???????

[/quote]
</p>

<p>It's (unfortnately) not that uncommon.</p>

<p>And when I was chair of the department (a few years ago), I'd regularly have parents calling me about their child's lack of performance in one of our undergraduate classes and to complain about the faculty member teaching their child's course. I'd tell them the same song and dance about*the Buckley amendment. Sometimes the college-age kid would come in and file an actual complaint, but most of the time, he/she wouldn't come talk to me.</p>

<p>And I don't teach at a super-competitive college---it's a very run-of-the-mill SUNY University-College: In other words, the equivalent of the standard lower tier directional state U.</p>