The concept of child development is quite crucial in the life of children and adults. During this process, children grasp ideas, emotions and attitude, which end up shaping their character as they advance into the youths’ stage and later into adulthood.
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It therefore follows that the company of these children matters a lot in determining their understanding of the world at an early age. Since children are mostly under full care of parents, this class of people play a significant and irreplaceable role in their children’s life. In other words, the manner in which children are brought up is usually reflected into their different stages of development (Littlefield & Cook, 2009).
There is no doubt that parents have a right to get involved into the lives of their children on daily basis. However, research indicates that parents’ overindulgence in their children’s lives affects them negatively.
This research explores a controversial issue that has recently attracted the attention of people in the field of child development. The concept of Helicopter parents has become a topic of discussion in recent years, encompassing a wide range of views from different parts of the world.
In synthesizing this topic, the research will cover an array of issues that revolve around child development and parenting. For better understanding, the initial segments will lay the foundation of the paper by giving background information, definitions and origin. The paper will further analyze the impact of helicopter parenting in terms of long-term and short-term effects of this approach of rearing children.
Additionally, the research will explore the benefits of helicopter parents together with alternative and workable options to be considered in bringing up children holistically. To achieve this task, relevant information will be sourced from credible and authentic primary research articles.
The term “helicopter parents” is arguably one of the terms gaining popularity in the corridors of learning institutions in the world today. More colleges and high schools are making use of this term to describe a species of parents that is cropping up.
What does this term mean? Borrowed from the literal meaning of a helicopter, helicopter parents hover around their children, paying close attention to problems or experiences in their children’s education (Littlefield & Cook, 2009).
They are seen to be on the lookout, to threaten their sons and daughters’ happiness or success at school or even university. In the event of a problem, such parents are usually available to save the situation and ensure that the issue is solved amicably on behalf of the child.
The issue of helicopter has become common in the recent past, with college and high school heads feeling their presence and impact. In some cases, these parents get involved in students’ affairs like confrontation with roommates, matters that are believed to involve students and the administration alone.
Additionally, helicopter parents may find it easy and comfortable to act on behalf of children, say, in class registration or even questioning lecturers over subject grades (Littlefield & Cook, 2009).
This type of parents is also known by some professors and school heads as “lawnmower parents” to refer to the idea of ensuring that there is no obstacle on their son or daughters’ educational path. However, some of these cases go beyond the school and college.
Several employers complain about the behavior of helicopter parents wanting to influence some decisions at their children’s workplace. This is common in matters that concern promotions and salary increment.
What makes it a point of concern to psychologists and other experts is the fact that most of these children are usually mature people who ought to make their own independent decisions (Littlefield & Cook, 2009).
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As a result, most human resource departments are getting acquainted to this type of employees. In recent cases, some helicopter parents have been involved in salary negotiations for their sons and daughters, making it difficult for affected firms to make sound decisions.
Origin of helicopter parents
Helicopter parents are commonly described through various media channels, with minimal research having been done on the issue. However, this term gained popularity in the United States in 2000s, a time when most of the students who had attained college age belonged to the millennium generation (Cutright, 2008).
During this time, most of the parents became notorious in some practices like waking their children on phone every morning to prepare for school, tracking academic grades and launching complains with professors.
In other cases, parents had an upper hand in selecting their children’s college and hired experts to draft application letters for admission instead of allowing them to gain confidence and develop a sense of responsibility in their educational life.
Although there could be a wide range of factors that augmented the rise of helicopter parents, advancement in communication technology carries the heaviest blame for this trend.
For instance, the wide usage of cell phones allows parents to monitor and track the life of their sons and daughters at any time without prior notice from the school administration (Cutright, 2008). As a result, some educationists refer to it as an “umbilical cord” that connects parents to their children when they are schooling or at workplace.
On their side, some parents argue that they have enough reasons to monitor the education of their children due to the increase in the cost of education, which makes them protective to minimize losses.
In extreme cases, which rarely occur, mothers pose like daughters while fathers like their sons to attempt exams on their behalf due to lack of trust in the efforts of their sons and daughters to pass exams.
These scenarios present cases where parents possess the willingness to assist their children to succeed in their academic life, without allowing them to gain self esteem and confidence to face the cost of their actions in life. Due to rising cases of this trend, many institutions around the world are considering to alter some administrative procedures especially those surrounding college admission in order to maintain the credibility of such processes (Cutright, 2008).
In handling this problem, most educationists propose dialogues and debates with parents to realize a point of consensus that allows the independence of students and promotes the role of the school administrators and parents.
Characteristics of helicopter parents
Although helicopter parents can generally be described as “hovers,” there are specific behaviors portrayed by this class of parents. Based on these characteristics, it is possible for parents to gauge themselves and decide whether they belong to this class or not.
A common behavior is constant communication with children. With the coming of mobile phones, parents are able to maintain frequent communication with their children and get involved in their lives on a daily basis (Manos, 2009).
Parents who dial their children’s numbers frequently hover around them either knowingly or unknowingly. As a result, children end up calling back without any alarming issue to involve them.
Besides maintaining constant contact with children, helicopter parents establish close ties with the school administration, causing them to maintain frequent communication.
These parents get over-involved in their children’s lives by frequently phoning the school administration to resolve minor problems that could be resolved without their indulgence. This over-management of kids undermines their ability to become independent and face life challenges (Manos, 2009).
Additionally, helicopter parents influence the academic decisions made by children. Although parents have a role in the academic life of their sons and daughters, these parents advance to select courses, units and career paths without allowing them to exercise their responsibility (Manos, 2009).
The main problem here is the fact that parents do not differentiate between giving advice to children and controlling their decisions. In acute cases, helicopter parents may choose to complete a research paper or an assignment on behalf of their sons or daughters.
Lastly, helicopter parents are characterized by their response towards poor performance. Even though no parent can rejoice in the failure of his or her child’s performance, these parents negatively view themselves when poor performance is registered in school.
This is due to the fact that hovering parents view the school or any educational institution as an engagement that involve children and parents simultaneously (Manos, 2009). These parents therefore gauge their self-worthiness against the performance of their sons and daughters and feel like poor performers when their children obtain low marks and grades in schools.
Effects of helicopter Parenting
Based on the above background and analysis of the behavior of helicopter parents, it is doubtless that this type of parenting has an array of effects. Although some of the effects are short-term, it is important to note that hovering around children may permanently ruin the life of affected children (Littlefield & Cook, 2009).
However, proponents of helicopter parenting believe that over-management of children has benefits to both parents and children during and after their schooling life. This segment discusses the impact of helicopter parents with regard to short-term and long-term impact, together with some benefits associated with this course of parenting.
Opponents of helicopter parenting argue that it undermines self-sufficiency among children. In other words, such children develop into young adults who lack important life skills such as the spirit of sharing, self-reliance and inability to solve simple problems in life (Littlefield & Cook, 2009).
This mainly occurs because these children value themselves so much that they do not appreciate social coexistence. Due to their self-centeredness, they also develop a sense of entitlement, making them possessive and inconsiderate.
Additionally, children who are brought up by hovering parents are prone to suffering academically since they are used to being spoon-fed by their parents, and may not be able to reason on their own and make critical analysis of a given academic concept.
In the absence of parents, these children are likely to score very low marks since some of their class assignments and term papers are usually completed by parents at home (Gibbs et al., 2009). The impression derived from such deep involvement is that no amount of success can be realized by children without the involvement of parents.
Another reason why helicopter parenting is highly discouraged is the fact that the system does not prepare kids to face real-world issues especially when they advance to adulthood. As a result, most of them experience high levels of anxiety to handle the future because they have no idea of the challenges in the world.
This equally affects employers since this type of employees have a sense of entitlement, which is transferred to workplace (Gibbs et al., 2009). For instance, they demand high level of supervision because they are not used to performing duties independently. Furthermore, they tend to challenge the entire system in terms of the dress code, hierarchy and work schedules that are dictated by individual job description.
Moreover, “boomerang” children spent a lot of time at home as compared to the time spent productively at work. This is augmented by the fact that a wide range of their needs are met by parents, including social, financial and emotional demands.
This propagates the character of dependence as children find no value in living on their own and engaging in productive activities outside their parental home (Today Magazine, 2010). In this context, most parents complicate the lives of their sons and daughters, causing them to prefer being at home. Unlike what used to happen a century ago, children raised by helicopter parents find it hard to cope with peers and even marriage partners.
As a result, majorities postpone marrying and get caught up with time when the truth finally dawns at them. These children spent their entire lives developing careers and sourcing advice from parents on relationships, real estate and financial fitness among others.
Despite the fact that helicopter parenting widely affects children, parents too have their share of the negative effects of such a system. The mental health of these parents suffers a lot as it is characterized by high level of anxiety that may affect their psychological stability (Today Magazine, 2010).
Most of these parents are preoccupied with sadness, lack of contentment in everyday’s life and low self-esteem. Research shows that dissatisfaction and anxiety have tremendously increased among parents in the last two decades due to their overindulgence in the lives of their children (Littlefield & Cook, 2009).
This parenting system also has a negative impact on the finances of most schools that are affected. Consequently, schools and colleges have adopted measures to tame the severity of the effects of hovering parents in leaning institutions.
This approach carries several costs as there is need to introduce new programs, which have to be financed for their success (Manos, 2009). For instance, special orientation sessions are organized to allow parents to understand their role without over-managing their sons and daughters.
Extra staff members are also required to respond to the demands of helicopter parents in order to keep them away from their children. These programs require financial funding, which trickles down to parents through increased tuition cost in learning institutions.
Benefits of helicopter parenting
It is believed that this system can be important especially when used during a particular stage of child development. Parents are tasked to ensure that children are protected from any form harm and that they grow uprightly to become responsible members of the society (Manos, 2009).
This protection is supposed to change depending on a child’s development stage until they demonstrate the capability of handling the task at hand. It is however important that for parents to appreciate the need for freedom and responsibility during child development. In other words, helicopter parenting is vital in guarding young children against accidents, bullies and other risky situations.
Nevertheless, this should not be exaggerated to undermine a child’s confidence and independence. In addition, helicopter parenting enhances smooth transition from childhood to adulthood.
Proponents of this system of rearing children believe that the practice prepares a safe landing for their sons and daughters when they leave their home and become independent (Lum, 2006). Furthermore, it promotes a strong bond between parents and children, as the former remain a source of advice and support in time of need.
Recommendations and conclusion
It is doubtless that cases of helicopter parents are on the increase in most parts of the world. This system has a wide range of disadvantages especially among affected children. Of great significance is the fact that helicopter parenting undermines a chance to become responsible, independent and confident (Lum, 2006).
Children reared up in such a system find it hard to face the real world and confront daily challenges. To curb this emerging problem, parents have to minimize their involvement in their children’s life. For instance, children should be encouraged to call in case of a problem, not parents spying their child’s experiences.
Additionally, parents have to exclude themselves from children’s domestic issues like conflicts with roommates and academic grading. It is the responsibility of the school to run the school professionally (Lum, 2006).
Above all, parents should remain role models in the life of their children and not helpers or lifetime managers. This can involve financial coaching and involvement in productive activities that prepare children for future challenges.
Cutright, M. (2008). From helicopter parent to valued partner: Shaping the parental relationship for student success. New Directions for Higher Education, (144), 39-48.
Gibbs et al. (2009). Can These Parents Be Saved? Time, 174 (21), 52-57.
Littlefield, J. C., & Cook, G. (2009). Child development: principles and perspectives. New York: Pearson A&B.
Lum, L. (2006). Handling ‘Helicopter Parents’. Diverse: Issues In Higher Education, 23 (20), 40-42.
Manos, M. (2009). Helicopter Parents: Empathetic or Pathetic? Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 89 (3), 21.
Today Magazine. (2010). Helicopter Parenting Can Be a Good Thing. USA Today Magazine, 138 (2780), 8-9.