Helicopter parents blamed for “failure to launch”



When they were young with our Natasha.

In an eye-opening article, helicopter parents are being blamed for the failure of their kids to launch, “Helicopter parents who put their children on ‘a pedestal’ are to blame for them still living at home at 25, according to an expert,” by Sarah Harris for the Daily Mail, explores how anthropologist David Lancy compares cultures to compare differences in how kids are raised. He believes we are screwing up our kids by being too involved and putting them on a pedestal.

I’m a former helicopter parent and I admit freely that I did way too much for my kids. I would help them with homework if it was getting late, I’d micromanage schedules and homework, and I’d run to the pool or school with forgotten swimsuits or papers. I cooked all the meals and did their laundry. I thought I was making life easier for them. I hated to see them fail. Looking back, it’s better to let them fail at a few little things, rather than wait for them to fail at college or life. The consequences of taking over for our kids makes them feel insecure and less self-sufficient. We are literally destroying their prospects to be independent, strong adults—which should be our goal.

I would tell my kids when they were selfish that “the world doesn’t revolve around you.” Yet, I had set up our household so my life did, in fact, revolve around them. I am glad that I made the choices I did, yet all of it wasn’t helpful to them. I’m grateful that I could leave the workforce and stayed home. I’m thankful for the opportunities I had to help out at their schools, plus for the three years I homeschooled my daughter. I loved helping out on their swim team, too.

Things I didn’t do: I didn’t take over for them on major projects, I didn’t write papers for them, nor do their research. I was there to help, not do the work. I do know many parents that completely take over and that’s not helpful at all. In any case, we are all trying to do the best we can. If you get a sneaky feeling that you’re doing too much, chances are you are doing too much. My 24-year-old isn’t living at home and is independent, and my college student is applying for jobs, so I must have done something right.

Here are some excerpts from the Daily Mail article about helicopter parents:


It can leave children only ‘patchily employed’ and reliant on their parents in 20s.

He said there is a worrying trend of ‘raising each child as special and unique.’

Anthropologist David Lancy has warned that mothers and fathers praise their children too readily, which does not adequately prepare them for modern life.

Young people believe they can continue doing ‘what’s exciting and wonderful’ and end up only ‘patchily employed’ and reliant on their parents by their mid-twenties.

The emeritus professor of anthropology at Utah State University, United States, said this results in their ‘failure to launch’.

He has examined different childcare models across the world for his book, Raising Children: Surprising Insights from Other Cultures.
In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement (TES), the anthropologist outlined ‘our’ society’s ‘WEIRD’ way, which stands for Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic.

This has worrying characteristics including ‘raising each child as special and unique and patting them on the back for every achievement, to protect their self-esteem’. Referring to ‘WEIRD’, Professor Lancy told the TES: ‘I think one of the drivers (of this) is this underlying notion that children should never be unhappy and that if they are, that’s a problem that the parent is maybe responsible for and certainly has an obligation to remediate.’

Parents are ‘totally wrapped up and centred on their children’ – an approach that is problematic.

‘You can relate all sorts of things to that, including the spectacular rise of psychotropic medication being given to children,’ he said

‘When you put a child on a pedestal and say, “The horizons are limitless for you, my child, you can do anything you want to do, there’s no hurry, you can take your time,” that creates a situation that you say to your kids, “You don’t have to conform to society’s expectations or expectations of the workplace, you can continue to do what’s exciting and wonderful for you,” and we end up with kids still living at home at 25 and only patchily employed.’


My kids ready to launch.

Do you know parents who do too much for their kids, helping with projects and homework? What are some extreme examples you’ve seen?

Are Children Living Life Through a Lens?


Experiencing the beach.

My daughter and I walked into an elevator yesterday at Nordstrom’s with a mom pushing a Thule baby stroller, snapping pics of her infant and tapping away on her phone to post the pics. My daughter whispered to me, “Thank God they didn’t have iPhones when I was a kid!”

I told her I was thankful that their early childhood was before the era of smartphones, too.

Later, I asked her why she was glad we didn’t have iPhones. Her answer surprised me. “Because you would have been taking photos constantly and posting every moment of my life on FaceBook,” she said.

Psychologists warn about kids spending too much time in front of screens and not enough of their time outdoors in an article in the DailyMail.com called “Why children should not be selfie stars:”

In advice to parents, Dr. Godsi said: ‘Leave technology at home. When you go out as a family leave mobile devices switched off and have a rule that says no mobile phones during family meal times.’

The author added: ‘In my opinion selfies should not be encouraged.

‘I think there is a place for taking a few photos, as a way to help families remember or look back and to share memories but the constant pressure to post on social media means there’s a risk that they (children) don’t experience anything except through a lens.’

My daughter said that once I got my first iPhone and was learning how to use it, “You relentlessly posted ugly, fat pictures of me on FaceBook.”

I view those photos not as ugly, but on a scale of cute to adorable to gorgeous.


Learning about the ocean in Junior Lifeguards.

I explained that I was so glad she and her brother weren’t posing for pictures constantly, weren’t worried about what other kids were doing at the moment, but went outside to play. That’s why I’m glad the iPhone wasn’t a thing in their early years.

When we had kids over, they weren’t sitting side by side texting each other. No, they were running around the backyard and house playing a reverse hide-and-seek game called sardines—for hours on end.

When we were at the beach, they were jumping in the waves, body surfing, building drip castles, digging holes and yes—occasionally fighting and throwing sand. As annoying and painful as throwing sand was–especially dealing with sand in the eyes–it sure beats constantly posing for pictures.

My daughter says there is room for both. When she goes to the beach with friends, they now get a few pics, then toss the phones in a beach bag and dive under the waves.

Here are a few frightening stats from the article in the UK Mail:

Dr. Godsi spoke out after a survey of 2,000 parents by outdoor education provider, Kingswood, found that the biggest source of quality time among families is spent watching TV together. Sixty-eight percent cited this as their main activity shared with children, followed by going to the cinema (35 per cent) and playing computer games (24 per cent).

The average age of the parents’ children was ten, while 445 were seven.

Asked to look back to when all their youngsters were seven, 85 percent of families said their sons or daughters had never gone camping.

Sixty-five percent said they had never played pooh sticks or climbed a tree (51 percent).

Forty-one per cent admitted their children had never been on a bike ride, paddled in the sea (43 percent) or played in a park (31 percent).

It’s very easy to get sedentary. It’s also easy not to talk to each other when we’re buried and focused on our screens. I’m lucky to spend this week with my daughter just hanging out and being with eachother.

What are your thoughts about selfies, kids and family time? Do your kids spend enough time without their phones experiencing outdoors?


On the lookout for dolphins and whales.