posted by Marco

Writing an argument essay. If anyone can read and comment that would be great!.

Helicopter Parents: Harmful To Our Youth

Picture the following: A young woman twenty-two years of age walks into her apartment, she turns on the light switch and the light in the main lamp does not come on. She proceeds to turn on the other light switches in her apartment, they all come on and now she has light. What does she do now? Instead of replacing the burned out light bulb in the lamp that failed to turn on, she calls her father at home, who is one hundred miles away, asking him what she should do next. Her father tells her to replace the light bulb to which she responds with “I don’t know how to do that”. Her father then tells her that he will fix the light bulb the next time he is in town which will be on Saturday. This is, sadly, a true story as relayed to me by my friend, the father of the young woman. What you have just read is just but one of various negative effects created by the phenomenon known as Helicopter Parenting.

The definition in the dictionary of a Helicopter Parent is “a mother or father that hovers over a child; an overprotective parent” (“helicopter parent” def. 1), but that definition is much too kind. A more appropriate description is that Helicopter Parents are those parents who micro-manage every aspect of their children’s lives and are over-protective to extremes. If their child has a problem, they will fix it. If their child craves anything, they will get it. The problem of helicopter parents has become so pervasive it has been described as an “infestation”. (Sykes 68).

Helicopter Parents are, in many cases, harming today’s youth and themselves because they are inhibiting the children’s ability to think independently, as well as causing many colleges to create programs for dealing with these types of parents, therefore increasing the cost of tuition in many college institutions.

In denying their children the skills necessary to become independent thinkers as well as stunting their growth (maturation), Helicopter Parents are creating a situation where the majority of students attending college now are severely lacking the skills required to handle social situations as well as the skills necessary to solve difficult situations without the aid of their parents. Helicopter parents are always ready to jump in and save the day and as direct result of this attitude by parents, the child is not provided with a learning environment where he/she can learn about responsibility and accountability for their actions. These parents are creating a long line of robotic children that lack what is known as common sense (independent thinking). They can be extremely book smart but when it comes to doing the mundane tasks we all do on a regular basis such as buying stamps, filling out applications etc. The majority of these kids nowadays have no inkling on how to accomplish these tasks.

For example, during a talk show on ESPN radio, one of the hosts, Bob Golic, relayed a story about one his sons who attempted to mail him a Christmas card as a surprise from the university he was attending. His son was hoping he would receive the card so that when he showed up at Christmas dinner, his dad would be very happy. Well, his son came and wondered why his dad had not mentioned anything in regards to the card. He asked his father if he had received it and his dad said that he had not. Upon returning to school, his son found that the card had been returned by the post office because of insufficient postage. He was so upset that he called his father to tell him what had occurred. His father asked him how much postage he had put on the card and the son replied that he had put a one cent stamp. The host then told the audience that he and his wife were at fault because they never discussed or instructed his son on mailing a letter, that they always mailed it for him whenever he had something to be mailed. It never occurred to them that they were taking away his independent thinking when they were doing all these mundane tasks that they did not consider important or critical to their son’s ability to function. Although the story as told was meant to be humorous, it does pinpoint the problems children of today have when their parents become so involved in controlling the lives of these kids.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, columnist Kay S. Himowitz, states “The problem is that children who grow up knowing their parents keep track of them 24/7 fail to internalize the common sense and limit-setting that can only emerge from the experience of making independent judgments” (qtd. in Himowitz). The author is clearly describing how there is a severe lack of independent thinking or common sense in children whose parents are Helicopter Parents types.

As a direct result of parent’s obsessive intrusiveness with their children’s education, many college institutions have been forced to create special departments and programs to handle the new phenomenon created by the Helicopter Parents of the college bound student. Colleges have been very creative in coming up with names for these new departments and program; for example, one institution calls their department the GHPIU which stands for ‘Ground Helicopter Parents Intervention Unit’. Programs such as Parent Orientation week are now popping up all over colleges and universities throughout the country to keep parents busy, all of it which is done too keep the parents away while the colleges try to instruct their children on the basics of college life without having the parents question everything from room assignments, class selection, and, professors grading system. For example, a friend of mine (actually embarrassed to share this), had the gumption to call one of his son’s professors and tell him that the syllabus and curriculum did not meet his approval, so could he please change it. He actually sent the professor a new syllabus and the administration office a copy of the curriculum that should be taught in that class, never mind that he never attended college. This story is also told with a humorous lean to it, but it truly does highlight that this is indeed a serious problem.

The programs the universities and colleges have to implement to handle the Helicopter Parents cost money. They require as much if not more staff than a regular department since they are constantly dealing with the parents on a daily basis. These programs are also year round so they can address any issues that come up throughout the year without the need to pull resources from other departments. So, by now you are probably wondering where in the world the college institutions are finding the money to fund these programs. BINGO! You guessed right, the money comes from an increase in tuition in many of the colleges and universities.

The most powerful argument for Helicopter Parenting being beneficial is that with the issues adolescents and young adults are dealing with today; there are valid reasons for parents to stay involved in the lives of their kids. An article by columnist Don Aucoin lists “emotional, social, sexual, logistical, and psychological” (Aucoin) as valid reasons as to why parents need to stay involved even though their kids are technically adults. Aucoin claims that involvement by these parents is necessary to facilitate the navigation of the maze known as adolescence and also to help them during their maturation process. In a study performed by the National Survey of Student Engagement published in the Washington Post, the study demonstrates that students of helicopter parents tended to be more engaged in class discussions (Matthews).

Although I agree that there is a need for parents to be involved and to provide guidance in handling the many treacherous obstacles they are sure to encounter, there is a very fine line between guiding and supporting your child and controlling them. In the same study, the results demonstrated that there was no evidence that the students of involved helicopter parents had better grades than those students whose parents were not as involved. The study actually demonstrated the opposite, that the students of helicopter parents tended to have lower grades, the results in which various college officials agreed that these “Helicopter Parents” students were used to having their parents help them with their schoolwork (Matthews). Making every decision for them is not going to help them in the long run. They will get used to you dealing and resolving every possible scenario and that causes them to become mentally incapable of handling real life situations.

The Helicopter Parent is not restricted only to the United States as it has spread to many parts of the world. In the article “In Italy, a Mamma Accused of Doting Too Much" Jeff Israely examines the effect and consequences of Helicopter Parenting in different cultures. The author uses the extreme story of 12 year old Luca, whose mother’s and grandmother’s love and overprotection was so extreme it caused them to be charged with child abuse in Italy. The prosecutions main argument was that they stunted his mental development by building a large emotional wall in order to protect him. The psychologists that questioned Luca noted that he had the skills of a 3 year old (Israely).

Although the example used by Israley in his article is an extreme case, it brings to the forefront the very real harmful effects of Helicopter Parenting. We all want to protect and help our children. We do not want to see them get hurt. We all want them to succeed in life, but in order for us to help them and in turn have them help us in the future; we cannot hinder their ability to think independently. They have to have common sense. It is a difficult thing to do as parents, but we have to draw a very clear line in the sand and commit ourselves to not crossing it. This can only help our children and our society in the future as it hopefully can create a new generation of independent thinkers who can think on their feet and provide solutions to the myriad of problems in the world today.

  1. Marco

    Bump..any comments?

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