Is it the instant gratification generation or helicopter parents?

Back when it was okay to helicopter.
Back when it was okay to helicopter.

This is my second most read post of all time, written in 2015.

Letting my kids play and be kids.
Letting my kids be kids.
My kids being kids. They're okay despite my hovering.
The kids are okay despite my hovering.

My Confessions as a Helicopter Mom 

10 Things Our Kids Need to Know Before College

30 thoughts on “Is it the instant gratification generation or helicopter parents?

  1. Not a parent but agree that one of the biggest challenges for me when I went away to college was: “Class time is switched and it’s the opposite of what they are used to.” I remember feeling at loose ends with all the free time that I had to learn to schedule.

  2. This was my most well-received topic as a workshop for parents…and faculty…navigating the ways in which everyone can work together and not at cross-purposes. You and I would’ve had fun partnering, once upon a time, Elizabeth! Great stuff! 🥰

  3. I can see myself as a helicopter to some degree EA, but more so when they were young. By the time they reached junior high I had stepped back because I was working again. They had to learn to be responsible for their own things, and by high school each had a job on top of all their school and other outside commitments. I’ve often wondered, had I not returned to working full time, what or how far I might have gone to make their lives easier?

    • What a good point. Your kids benefitted by you returning to work. They learned responsibility and how to take care of many of their needs without you. Then when they went to college they were prepared. I did way too much for my kids and it didn’t help them one bit. I learned quickly though and pulled back.

      • I think we can always play the “what if” game as parents! It seems to go along with all the other ways in which we are clueless 😉
        I had that mindset (self-responsibility) even before working again, which I think was a holdover from my own childhood. As LA often states “parenting is hard” and I agree 🙂

      • Looking back, I did go back to work for three years while my kids were in high school. That probably helped them a lot! My son could drive so he was responsible to get them to school on time. After school they had swimming and homework. I agree that parenting is clueless and we all are winging it as we go along. My parents had a total hands off attitude, which I think was the norm when we were growing up.

  4. We take their lead and help them fulfill their dreams. We teach them ethics. We give them responsibilities. We have expectations of what is responsible behavior and what isn’t and we model that behavior. We teach them that hard work and trying is expected, not being the star of anything. How’s that?

    • I agree with you that time management is a big skill most kids don’t learn until they’re in college. I thought with our kids’ tight schedules with swimming, etc. that they were learning it. Really, all their time was scheduled. It wasn’t until college that they had to organize their own time.

  5. HS teacher here. I agree with you on all points. This year, I’m really trying to emphasize time management and self advocacy with my students. It’s tough though, I won’t lie. Many of my students are so busy like your kids were in high school that every minute is full. And trying to help them see the value of self advocacy….the struggle is real. 🙂

    • Thanks for your viewpoint as a teacher. As a parent, I was driving kids from one thing to the next, plus making sure they got their studies done. That should be figured out by the students so college isn’t such a big change.

    • Thank you, Wynne. I think you already have the balance of being in a hurry and knowing it’s easier for you to do a task versus letting your kids gain independence and learn on their own.

  6. Not a parent, you know. I do think my parents prepared me for independence, but that may be because I had that streak in me from day one. My older brother totally failed to launch. Dropped out of college after a year, came back home, had to be kicked out by Mom when he was 26. I left for college and never went back. Got two degrees in five years (associate and bachelor).

    I see my niece being raised by a mother who does everything for her. But niece is very smart and may turn out okay.

  7. Great stuff EA … so true! And reading through the comments — where can I find this Elizabeth and Vicki symposium or conference or partnership. Ha ha, I’m pretty sure it would definitely be worth everyone’s time! Ha ha ha😎🤣😎😎

  8. Really interesting post. Some of the people I started uni with didn’t return or finish. Personally, I think it’s because we’re often ill prepared for it especially because high school is so vastly different. I feel like high schools need to better prepare their students not just with the workload but how to navigate themselves, take care of their mental health etc.

  9. Finding the right balance of helping too much or not enough when parenting is a tricky balance to keep. I tried not to hover over them but also didn’t want them to suffer unduly because they were athletes and attending college prep schools. It all worked out in the end but I have to say I enjoy watching my daughter maneuver through those same waters so to speak and I think she’s doing great. Hugs, C

    • It was a balance and I saw so many swim families (ours including) to do too much for their kids because of their sport and academics. I erred on doing to much. It gave me five years of material to write a sports parenting column, though! That so nice you can see how your daughter is doing a great job.

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