When should we jump in to defend our kids?

When they were young.

I was always a stickler for what was right or wrong and I never shied away from addressing any issue. I would go to bat for my kids whenever I felt they were being slighted. Looking back, I see that is a trait of helicopter parenting and I might have done more good for my kids by letting them fight their own battles.

Here are a few battles I took on when I thought my kids weren’t being treated right:

I wrote an email to my son’s AP History teacher to complain about his grade. He was .05 off an A and I felt the teacher should round it up. I got a note back explaining that if he were to round up my son’s grade, he’d have to go back and do the same thing for every other student in his grade book who was a fraction off the next higher grade. (Not a bad idea, I thought!) My son was being passed over for his school’s nomination for the coveted National Merit Scholarship award because of the B, but he lived through it.

When I felt a coach was picking on my son, I made an appointment to complain about it, only to find out that he had earned the “coach’s award” for best attitude and effort. That surprised me and I’m embarrassed about that meeting to this day.

When my daughter was given five days of after-school detention for forgetting to bring the photocopy of Christmas song lyrics to music class, I complained that the punishment was over the top. In fact, other kids were given two nights detention, so there was a definite crossing the line by the music teacher—in my humble opinion.

There are countless other incidents where I went to battle for my kids. I do believe I taught them the difference between right and wrong and that they should stand up for themselves. At least that’s what I told myself at the time.

I couldn’t understand why other parents would stand by and let bad things happen to their kids. I do now. Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and shrug your shoulders. I’ve found that some of the things that would have bugged me to no end, will soon disappear on their own within a few days or weeks. By making an issue out of little things, they can turn into big ones and burn a lot of energy and create angst.

My daughter complained to me last night that during a meeting with students on a group project, the guys were complaining that all the women coming forward about sexual harassment were “just looking for attention.” That infuriated my daughter to no end. I asked her if she was going to put up with it or wanted to go to the professor or counselor and complain. She decided to let it go. She’s a week from being done with the class and just wants to get through it. I told her I would stand by whatever she decided.

When my son received a letter telling him he was kicked out of school during the summer after his freshman year for bad grades, I was horrified. But, then I stood by and watched him research his options online. He wrote a letter to contest the decision and got hospital and doctor records to substantiate his unfortunate circumstances of an injury and surgery which caused too many missed classes. He was let back in without me doing a thing. After that, he earned As.

Me and my boy.

One thing I know about parenting is all we can do is try our best. It’s been my goal to raise kids who know the difference between right and wrong and will try their best as well.

What do you think about parents fighting battles for their kids? Are they helping or hurting them by getting involved?

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The not-so-funny truth about helicopter parents

 

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The goal is to raise happy, healthy kids who experience failure at times so they can also experience success.

 

I often joke that I’m a recovering helicopter parent. But, it’s not that funny after all. It’s important to raise kids who can handle the curve balls life throws at them. By not allowing our kids to fail, we’re robbing them of the ability to learn, grow, and understand hard work. Not only that, but studies show that kids with helicopter parents suffer more from anxiety and depression.

In an article in USA Today by Katy Piotrowski, M.Ed. called “How to help your adult children find success,” it appears success comes most often after failure. So, if we’re not allowing our kids the chance to fail, how will they be successful later in life?

Here are a few tips from the article:

“In a study reported in Psychology Today, the majority of children with helicopter parents have higher anxiety and view life’s challenges as being more daunting than those with more hands-off moms and dads. So what can we do, as parents, to truly support career success in our children? Psychiatrist Joel Young, M.D., suggests these strategies:

“Rather than sharing your goals and wishes for your child, listen to theirs. This builds their skills in independent thought and critical thinking, and sidesteps imposing your values on them.

“When your child receives a consequence, such as not getting hired for a job you think they’d excel in, don’t try to intervene to change the outcome.

“Avoid being your adult child’s keeper and don’t remind them of deadlines. By middle school, they should have learned to stay on top of their to-do lists.

“Instead of offering your solutions to their career challenges, encourage your child to come up with remedies on their own.”

Honestly, is there anything worse than watching your kids suffer, feel hurt or experience failure? We want to make life easy for them. But, while they are young, let them flunk a few tests, or oversleep for school. These are minor things that they can self-correct. They can learn from their mistakes. If we’ve helped our kids every step of the way from kindergarten through their senior year in high school, and they’ve never experienced failure, they may feel overwhelmed when they get a lousy grade on a college paper or fail an exam. They also may feel they aren’t worthy and are incapable on their own without their helicopter parent at their side to save them.

It reminds me of a book I learned about at a writer’s conference more than a decade ago called “Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones” by John C. Maxwell. It was recommended for writers to read this book because in this tough profession we face rejection after rejection and the key is to keep going and fail forward, rather than failing backward. I believe it’s an important read for parents, too, so that we allow our kids the growth experience that only failure provides.

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Before my kids experienced anxiety, stress or failure. Those were the days!

What other sad side-effects do you think helicopter parents may inflict upon their children–with the best intentions? Do you know any helicopter parents? What have you seen them do that you would never do yourself?

 

What are 14 things helicopter parents do?

 

 

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My kids had long days of unstructured playtime at the beach.

 

I found three interesting articles about helicopter parents today. The first from the HuffPost is called “Do You Recognize the 3 Warning Signs of a Helicopter Parent?”
The author David Wygant goes into more detail that you can read here, but the bullet points are below:

#1: Their kids can’t really leave or go anywhere without them
#2: Vacations basically don’t exist without the kids
#3: No sleepovers allowed

I can add to this list, from my own mistakes and from watching other helicopter parents. I like to think of myself as a reformed helicopter parent—or at least one who’s been grounded. Here are my warning signs to add to the previous three points:

#4: You walk your kids into their classroom and “help” them put their things away.
#5: You chat with the teacher daily about your child’s progress and what they can work on to get ahead.
#6: You never turn down an opportunity to volunteer at your children’s school.
#7: You’ve been room mom every year.
#8: You arrange playdates with kids you would like your children to become friends with.
#9: After school, you empty your child’s backpack or book bag and go through all their graded work and homework assignments without them.
#10: You supervise homework sitting down at their side.
#11: You go to every swim practice and talk to the coach every day after practice to ask how your child is doing.
#12: You have nothing to talk about with your friends except how exceptional your children are.
#13: You have a tough time listening to anyone else and often interrupt or walk away while someone else is talking.
#14: Your children don’t have any downtime in their lives and you’re always involved in everything they do.

Like I said, I honestly did not do these things. Well, at least not all of them. Here is the second parenting article I read today called “Time To Ditch the Helicopter, Parents” written by Kevin Thomas:

During orientation programs, when students and parents split into separate groups, there are often talks to Mom and Dad about letting go and the dangers of the helicopter parent. These are nice ways of saying it’s not about you.

The helicopter parent, for those new to the term, is the one who can never stay out of the kid’s life, interfering, making the most the routine choices or performing the smallest chores for the child (who is no longer a child).

When my previous offspring prepared to attend a military academy, we read posts on a parents’ Facebook page, asking how to pack for their child. These young people were going off to college to learn how to become military leaders in battle, and they couldn’t pack their own duffle bag?

Love is not coddling. It about knowing when to let go.

The last parenting article is from 2015 and reposted recently. It includes an excerpt from Julie Lythcott-Haims in her book “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.” You can read more here.

Former Stanford Dean Says Overparenting Leads To Kids Being Unprepared For College

Around the country, students are moving into college dorms for the first time. As former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, Julie Lythcott-Haims observed parents becoming increasingly involved in their children’s lives. Consequently, their kids arrived at college without some basic living skills. In response, Lythcott-Haims published the 2015 book, “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.”

Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti’s revisits a conversation from August 2015 with Lythcott-Haims (@DeanJulie) about the book.

3 Parenting Tips From Julie Lythcott-Haims

Stop staying “we.” In conversation about your children, don’t refer to their work or achievements by using “we.” “We” are not on the soccer team, “we’re” not doing the science project, and “we’re” not applying to college.
Stop arguing with the adults in your children’s lives. Kids need to learn to advocate for themselves with their teachers, coaches or other school staff. They should have these conversations themselves.
Stop doing your children’s homework. The only way kids will learn is by doing their work themselves.

Have you seen parents doing things on my list? Can you add to it?

 

Letting my kids play and be kids.

I supervised from a distance, of course.

 

The End Result of Helicopter Parenting–Ruining Your Kids’ Lives

 

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I tried not to helicopter my kids or Angus.

Millennials are having trouble “adulting” because of us—their helicopter parents. My daughter scolded me this morning, “You are totally a helicopter parent, you do realize that?”

I corrected her and explained that in some ways I was—and I meant that in the past tense. I’ve worked hard to NOT helicopter. I’m well aware of the mistakes I’ve made and I’ve tried to let go of my bad helicopter tendencies. The stakes are too high if you want to raise independent adults.

There are several articles today about what happens when parents helicopter over their children’s every move—from unruly kids in the classroom to anxious, young adults who lack “adulting” skills, have messy apartments and have trouble at work.

In 11 Signs You Had Helicopter Parents & It’s Still Affecting You Today you’ll read about 11 problems helicopter parents have inflicted on their kids.

“While it’s totally possible to escape from a less-than-ideal parenting situation unscathed, the way you were raised almost always affects, to some degree, how you feel and act as an adult. This is especially true if you grew up with helicopter parents. You know, the kind who were way too hands on. If yours “hovered” and coddled you 24/7, it may be showing up in the form of self-esteem issues and stunted “adulting” skills, among other things.

“Now, I’m not saying your parents didn’t have the best of intentions. Or that they should have let you do whatever you wanted. But that doesn’t mean their approach didn’t hold you back from becoming a bonafide adult. “A helicopter parent is a parent who is overly involved in the basic day-to-day aspects of their children’s lives,” Dr. Sanam Hafeed, PsyD, a NYC-based licensed clinical neuropsychologist, tells Bustle. “This may hurt kids as they grow up because they may not trust their intuition when meeting others … They [also] often have arrested development and lower emotional consciousness.”

In a separate article that’s being published widely about “JUST SAY NO,” an expert warns that “parents who pander to their kids are damaging them for real life.”

The “wild and unruly” children that primary school teachers have to deal with are often the progeny of their parents, according to Dr. Amanda Gummer.

The “wild and unruly” children that primary school teachers have to deal with are often the progeny of their parents, according to Dr. Amanda Gummer, a research psychologist specialising in child development.

Writing for the Daily Mail she said: “Wild, unruly children are increasingly likely to be the progeny of so-called ‘helicopter’ parents.

“They are ruthlessly ambitious for their child’s future — failing to realise how badly their mollycoddling is preparing them for the compromises of real life.”

It seems that overbearing parents who try to save their kids from any unhappiness or failure are instead guaranteeing the opposite–their kids are destined to feel like failures throughout their adulthood. With our best intentions to keep our kids happy and have them succeed we are hindering their self-reliance and ability to deal with the ups and downs in this thing called life.

Do you know any helicopter parents? What specific examples can you describe of their helicoptering behavior?

 

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We can learn from dogs on how to raise our kids.

 

Helicopter Parents Crash Summer Camp

 

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When my kids went to summer camp.

I’ve written about how helicopter parents are showing up in the workplace with their millennials here. Now, I’ve learned that parents are finding ways to hover over their kids’ summer camp experience, too.

In an NPR article called “Are Helicopter Parents Ruining Summer Camp?” by
Anya Kamanetz, I learned that helicopter parents often ignore summer camps “no cell phone” rules by hiding their kids’ phones when they pack for them.

“Barry Garst says thanks to mobile devices, parents today are conditioned to hour-by-hour check-ins. ‘The No. 1 concern is the separation that parents feel, and the difficulty in accepting a different type of communication with their child when their child is at camp.’ Garst studies youth development at Clemson University, with a focus on out-of-school learning.

Hence, the phones buried in luggage, mailed to campers, or even, he says, stitched into a stuffed animal.

The research on overparenting, says Garst, shows that when parents behave this way, children’s developing independence can be stunted. The parents are telegraphing that they don’t think kids can get through tough moments on their own, and kids pick up on that attitude. ‘Children are not really learning how to problem-solve.’

Leslie Conrad and Dan Mathews agree. (Conrad is the director of Clemson Outdoor Lab in Pendleton,  S.C., and Mathews is the head of Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Ga.) Both say their young adult staff members have helicopter parents as well, who also expect to be in constant contact. Last year, Mathews says, he got four or five phone calls from parents of staff members: ‘I can’t reach my child, they haven’t texted yet to say that they’re safe, they don’t like their cabin assignment, another staff member isn’t pulling their weight …’ One parent complained about the poor cellphone reception in the Georgia woods.

Summer vacation is a time of growth and change. Understanding the relationship between tech overdependence and parent-child interdependence may be key to untangling it, so kids can fly free.”

I remember when my kids went away to their first camp. There was a “no cell phone rule,” too at swim camp at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. They didn’t own a cell phones then, so it was not an issue. I did want to check up on them, and the camp instructions said we could send them with a prepaid phone card that they could use at the pay phone outside the dorms. Unfortunately for me, my kids never used the cards. “I didn’t know how to use it,” one child said. The other told me, ”I didn’t want to stand outside in the dark where the pay phones are and I only had time to call at night.”

We all survived one week without talking on the phone. I don’t know if we would today. My kids call quite a bit and I do the same. We’re much more dependent upon cell phones now. I was actually finding myself getting annoyed with so many calls yesterday from my kids. My husband and I were trying to watch a movie and we got two calls from one child. Then as soon as we hung up and started the movie, the second child called. Those weren’t the only calls from them that day–I had lost track of the previous calls. I honestly don’t think my kids realize that I sometimes have things to do or can have fun without them.

Here’s a tip from a website called Common Sense that addresses kids and the media and technology:

“Dear Mom, Don’t Pack My Phone for Camp” By Regan McMahon
“Let’s be honest: sending kids to camp with a cell phone is probably more for you than them. Here’s how to cut your cord.

“When your kid’s summer camp tells you to just pack the essentials — swim suit, sunscreen, sleeping bag — a cell phone is usually not on the list. In fact, it’s generally on the “What Not to Bring” list. But for parents, staying in touch with our kids feels essential, and some find it’s not so easy to break the habit.

“If the kids can unplug, why can’t we? Since we can all admit the cell phone is more for us than for them (kids aren’t the only ones with camp jitters), here are some tried and tested tips from recovering camp moms. You will get through it.”

Common Sense is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.

When your kids go to summer camp, how do you communicate with them? Or, do you let them experience camp without talking to you daily?

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My kids today.

 

 

When Helicopter Parents Hover Over Their Children’s Careers

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When it’s the appropriate time and place to hover and helicopter.

My son is now in the workplace and although I encouraged him to apply to certain companies, and yes, I scoured indeed.com, looking for jobs for him, I didn’t show up at his interviews, nor did I call the HR Department!

Of course not, right? Well, wrong. According to “Over-Parenting Reported By One Out Of Four Companies” by Steve Milne, human resource managers say they’re hearing more and more of this.

“The trend is known as “helicopter parenting.” Human Resource managers say they’re hearing more and more from the parents of employees or prospective employees. Rick Reed conducted the survey for Pacific Staffing. He says 25 percent of all companies reported having this experience recently.

“It was looked at as an intrusion in the workplace,” says Reed. “So it’s not a phenomenon that’s welcome among HR people. But it may be a result many people living with their parents these days, and the parents are just trying to help.

Some of the comments were very positive: “Thank you for hiring my child.”

Others sounded like this: “Well, why did you fire my child? You just don’t understand them.”

The New York Times has published several articles about this phenomenon lately including “When Helicopter Parents Hover Even at Work” by Noam Scheiber.

“As millennials grow into their working years, with many of them coming of age in the daunting job market that followed the Great Recession, parents are more likely to feel a proprietary stake in their children’s careers, said Ryan Webb, a recruiter and former human resources director at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. The hovering is abetted by a full complement of real-time communications options — from texting to Skype and social media — and fueled by the desire to see a return on investment for sending children to college in an age of escalating tuition.

“Mom and Dad footed the college bill, made sacrifices to get that extra thing on their résumé, so they felt part of the process,” said Mr. Webb, who said that texting one’s parents was frequently the first reflex for the millennials in his charge after a run-in with a manager.

Brandi Britton, a recruiter with OfficeTeam, a division of the firm Robert Half, said she never saw or heard from parents when she entered the business nearly two decades ago but has increasingly felt their influence. She recalled a father calling her in the past two years in an attempt to get his son an accounting job. The father sent in his son’s résumé, scheduled the interview and, to her surprise, turned up with him in person. ‘He was shepherding that thing,’ she said.”

This sounds like nuts to me. I’ve heard of parents who call the University President when their child fails a class. I know parents who write emails to coaches and teachers when they don’t agree with something that was said, done, a grade, etc. But, to follow your kids into the workplace?

I read somewhere that one way companies are dealing with this generation of millennials, who received participation trophies and ribbons for showing up, is to hold more frequent reviews. When I was a young 20-something, joining the workforce, I was lucky to receive an annual review. Now they are being held weekly! I’m sure there’s a lot of positive feedback going on, too.

But, what does the Human Resources department or manager do with parents who show up for job interviews? Or, call or text after a promotion or raise doesn’t materialize? What the heck do these parents think they are doing? Aren’t they slightly embarrassed? When are they going to allow their kids to take over their own lives?

I can understand making a call to a friend or acquaintance to help open a door for your child. But, when do you think parents cross the line? Have you heard of any parents interfering in the workplace?

 

 

 

 

 

Did a Helicopter Parent Really Do This?

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I think my daughter was telling me to chill.

 

I was reading an article from the New York Times where they asked readers to send in their crazy helicopter parenting experiences. The title of the article was ‘Bizarre and Unusual’: Readers Respond to Helicopter Parenting.

They listed a few letters that I found unbelievable. In one, a young physician was on an all-day interview at a hospital and his dad spent the day with him!  In another, a mom called a hospital to find out and clarify the benefits her young doctor son was getting.  I wonder if there’s any coincidence that a few of them were stories about doctors? It’s very competitive and grueling to get into and through med school and I wonder if mommy supervised the entire way?

Here’s one of the stories from the article:

“My boyfriend’s mom definitely has helicopter tendencies. It is very bizarre to me — we are both 29 but I was raised to be very independent. We both went to medical school and are now in residency. My favorite story is that she apparently somehow got ahold of the information about the benefits offered by his hospital and was concerned about them or had questions about them. So without asking him about it decided to call the hospital herself and ask. The staff found this to be pretty amusing and apparently made an announcement over the intercom in the operating room saying something to the effect of “Dr. X — your mommy just called.”

The article was based on LaVar Ball, the father of the U.C.L.A. basketball star Lonzo Ball who was the second draft pick this week and will play for the Lakers. I will admit I was out of the loop on this story, but after hearing discussions about him and being clueless—I’ve learned that he is the big daddy of all helicopter parents. He’s the dad of three promising basketball players who has interfered with their coaches, programs and careers their entire lives. Here’s a list from USA Today of the 10 most outrageous things he’s said.

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Back when it was okay to hover and over-parent.

The helicopter parenting stories I’ve witnessed pale in comparison. I remember parents insisting that their kids be moved up in swimming or arguing with teachers about grades. One story involves me. I took my son for swim lessons when he was four years old and insisted that he be moved up a few levels. A few summers later, a swim instructor told me about the crazy parents she encountered and said, “One year we had this mom insist her four-year-old be moved up two groups, and he physically wasn’t able at that age to be in that group!” I smiled to myself. Wow, I made it to someone’s most crazy helicopter mom list! I don’t think that’s a great honor, do you?

 

What are some of the crazy stories you’ve heard about helicopter parents?