When the college years begin, it’s time for ‘helicopter’ parents to buzz off

choppers.jpegHelicopter parents have gone to college, or so says an AP story that made the rounds late last week. Because so many of my students and former students drop in on this blog, I thought I’d better clue them in before they procreate and screw up the next generation.

AP writer Martha Irvine tells us how well-intentioned but overly doting parents find it impossible to let go, even as their kids are ready to graduate college. It’s more than sad — it’s pathetic.

Some parents are writing their college-age kids’ resumes. Others are acting as their children’s “representatives,” hounding college career counselors, showing up at job fairs and sometimes going as far as calling employers to ask why their son or daughter didn’t get a job.

It’s the next phase in helicopter parenting, a term coined for those who have hovered over their children’s lives from kindergarten to college. Now they are inserting themselves into their kids’ job search, and school officials and employers say it’s a problem that may be hampering some young people’s careers.

“It has now reached epidemic proportions,” said Michael Ellis, director of career and life education at Delaware Valley College, a small, private school in Doylestown, Pa.

If you need more evidence of the problem, check this story about helicopter mom Robyn Lewis. Where I grew up, parents who did this sort of doting at least tried to hide it. Robyn seems almost proud of her role as secretary and nursemaid to her college-age boys.

Turns out that helicopter parents are a big enough problem on campus to have caught the attention of collegeboard.com. This story offers you a quiz to determine if you’re hovering too closely to your kids. Younger readers can use it to assess their own parents’ behavior.

For some editorial comment on the phenomenon, see Jay Andrew Allen‘s blog, Parents Behaving Badly.

If you’re a parent or planning to become one, be sure to park the helicopter when the kids turn 12. They need to grow up, and so do we all.

2 Responses to When the college years begin, it’s time for ‘helicopter’ parents to buzz off

  1. Polly Wade says:

    I’m glad you addressed this issue, Bill, because I think we’re going to see more and more problems in the future workforce as a result — less accountability, questionable work ethics, etc.

  2. Allison Tomei says:

    As a student who has ‘UN-helicopter’ parents, I have to admit there is NOTHING more annoying than my peers who still have their mommy and daddy do EVERYTHING for them.

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