Posts Tagged ‘helicopter parents’
Yesterday I wrote that I have a new writer’s crush on Drew Magary who wrote this gem about parents (I’m guessing mostly mothers…) who are worried about their daughters getting into the right sorority.
I don’t know much about sororities. When I went to college the first time, right after high school, I had no interest in sororities. Mostly, I was interested in fraternities! The college I eventually graduated from with my degrees had no sorority system. At least I wasn’t aware of any. As a returning adult student I didn’t have time for sororities. I had to do things like work full time and be married.
I find it appalling that mothers have nothing better to do with their time that stress over Muffy getting into the right sorority. I find it appalling that these mothers are hiring coaches to help their daughters get into sororities. I thought the days of getting your MRS degree in college passed around the time Where The Boys Are debuted.
My favorite part of Magary’s articles is this:
Well, it’s your goddamn fault. Standing there over your kid’s shoulder during the entire process essentially ruins any chance they have of coming to understand social rejection in a mature, dignified manner. You can’t shield kids from rejection forever, and trying to do so only hinders their progress. Furthermore, hiring a fucking coach to help your kid with the rush puts even more pressure on them to not fuck it all up. A competent parent would hear about the “misfortunes” of other failed rushees and decide to sit down with their daughter and have an open discussion about the pros and cons of trying to join a sorority. A STUPID parent takes those horror stories and is like, “Well, I’m not letting THAT happen to mah little Hilly! We’re hirin’ a Rushcrone!”
He points out that this is the generation “that’s been told by their parents that they can achieve nothing on their own.” Parents have prepped their kids for everything: little league pitching coaches, SAT and ACT prep classes out the wazoo, walking them the single block to school, standing in line with them, hovering in the classroom as a volunteer…
Good God, it’s amazing our children remember to breathe on their own!
I like to think that if I had raised girls instead of boys that I wouldn’t have fallen into the popularity trap with little Gigi. She would have been the coolest, most aloof girl ever. Like the daughter on Suburgatory. Not that I’ve thought about it a lot!
Now I only hope and pray that my sons never encounter the spawn of these parents. Maybe it was a really good thing they didn’t go south for college…
Now let’s discuss how helicopter parenting would affect me as an employer. Yes, back in the day I hired people for the social service agency where I was executive director. Hiring people isn’t as pleasant as it sounds, especially in an economy when you are swamped with resumes for people not even remotely qualified for the job. I’m sorry, but having an MBA or an EE degree does not make you qualified to be a caseworker.
When I think of parents being involved in the hiring process, it makes me throw up a little in the back of my throat. I can’t imagine juggling resume sorting, interviewing, angsting over who to hire, and then dealing with helicopter parents! Of course you believe your child is appropriate for the job! He’s your child!
Unfortunately, you have no idea what any company is looking for or the type of person who will fit into the existing company culture.
This part of the article worries me the most:
“You don’t want to block the energy of the parent,” says Neil Howe, who studies and consults on generational trends for the company LifeCourse Associates. “It’s like jujitsu. You just want to channel it in a certain direction.”
Howe says boomers are incredibly close to their children, and in his opinion, that’s a good thing.
Besides, Howe says, there’s little point in resisting engaged parents. School teachers initially tried to push back against helicopter parents a decade ago, Howe notes, but ultimately learned it was counterproductive.
“Every time a teacher [resisted], that parent, who was so attached to their kid, would become that teacher’s worst enemy,” Howe says.
Today, Howe says, many schools now reach out proactively to parents, going so far as to offer online homework programs that allow parents to monitor a child’s progress. Colleges have also adapted, he notes, some even creating an Office of Parent Relations.
It bothers me because 1) I think parents are over-involved in school and 2) the working environment is completely different that the educational one. Being involved in school is one thing; parents are responsible for their children until they are legally adults. Parents have the ability to guide their children by interacting with school personnel. Once the child turns 18 there really needs to be independence.
The last thing I was looking for in an employee was lack of independence. Most jobs I’ve had have required me to make some decisions on my own to properly complete the job. If I had constantly gone to my supervisor with every decision, I don’t believe I would have kept that job for long.
As parents, our first instinct is to remain safe. We’ve been through the phase of life where the unexpected rules. It’s part of maturing. But sometimes, young people need to be unsafe. I don’t mean physically unsafe, I mean making decisions than aren’t going to lead to a known outcome.
Young people are young enough to make mistakes. Taking the wrong job isn’t the worst mistake they can make. Sometimes taking the “wrong” job ends up being the best decision ever made. Sometimes taking the wrong job means you learn something about yourself and how you want to spend your life.
Parents should encourage their children to make mistakes, blaze new trails, and learn who they are for themselves. We can make suggestions (e.g., go to college, don’t get married at 18, etc.). But for every suggestion, there are examples of people who made those choices and thrived.
Parents need to recognize that this need for control is really a need to keep our families safe and intact. But sometimes the best thing is to let go and see how far our children go. I have a feeling some of them are going to soar…
I came across this article and I’m more than a little frightened for the future of our children and our country. Honestly, parents, you are doing no one any good by hovering.
I have strong feelings about parents’ roles in their children’s lived outside of the home. I believe parents are entirely too involved and that has led to this generation of kids who refuse to grow up.
As a mother, I’ve been shocked at the level of involvement in school, sports, and extra curricular activities by parents.
If you want to be involved in your child’s education and that means you are at the school for several hours each and every day, you might consider home schooling. This wouldn’t be so alarming, except some parents seem to do it more for what they can manage to get for their kids. Is it a coincidence that the kids of the most involved moms are the ones with the most accolades?
Once schools start rewarding the children of the parents who are more involved than the parents who work, have younger children at home, or who do not wish to be involved, they’ve changed education into a popularity contest. It’s not. It’s education.
If you sign your kid up for sports and attend each and every practice and game, loudly coaching from the sidelines, please consider coaching a team yourself. Little league associations are always looking for volunteer coaches. Yes, volunteers. Which is why when your child’s coach plays by the rules (which you should at least have skimmed) and carefully plans his games, you should be respectful.
Do you have to go to every practice and game? Sports are for kids. Let them go and play, without their parents hovering. Go to a few games, show interest, but let them have some independence.
I find it disconcerting that the stands at the high school football games are filled with parents rather than high school students. Those high school students should be cheering on their school’s athletes. Yes, I’ve attended a lot of games for the boys. For me, it’s a social outing. I’m not the mom screaming from the stands. I don’t want to walk across the field with my player at Homecoming. I am not living my life vicariously through the lives of my children. I already attended high school and lived through that angst. I don’t want to do it again!
Parents are high jacking their children’s lives and it’s very sad. Mothers of my generation have turned meddling into an art form. Ladies, you don’t have to feel guilty for being a stay-at-home mom. It’s okay. You don’t need to prove your worth by hovering and sucking the life and fun out of being a kid. Yes, we’ve given up a lot to stay home with out kids–extra income, time out of the workplace, not using educations we worked so hard for.
There are people who look at those of us who are staying home with school-aged kids as lazy and unproductive. But we aren’t. We recognize that a lot of things can (and do!) go wrong in those after school hours. We understand that most employers don’t take kindly to sick kids and missed work days to take care of them. We’re being proactive, hopefully preventing bad things before they happen.
We really can be good mothers without hovering. We need to trust ourselves enough to let our children go…