Nation of Wimps

The high cost of invasive parenting.

Helicopter Parenting—It's Worse Than You Think

How is it that those who mean only the best for their kids can wind up bringing out the worst in them? Read More

Parents have no retirement funds

so spending all this money on tuition is supposed to help their kids make it big so that they can support the parents in old age. What parents should have done when they were younger was to ORGANIZE and DEMAND a fair living wage but collective action is frowned upon in our paradise of individual achievement. So we individuals who have not achieved enough to guarantee our own security try to help our individual progeny achieve enough to support themselves, us and presumably our future grandchildren too. This strategy will work only for a select minority, as the 99 percent falls ever farther and farther into the pit of declining wages and vanishing opportunities. Is it any wonder that parents try to juice the game any way that they can and help their kids ascend into the 1 percent?

So you are going to over

So you are going to over parent your child because you failed to save for your retirement?

If you were so good a parenting when they were younger, you wouldn't be coaching them in grad school or encouraging them to take care of you in your old age.

Clearly you haven't learned to deal with consequences so you aren't going to teach it to your child.

Who said anything about depending on your kids in retirement?

Helicopter parents don't depend on their kids to provide for them in retirement, they make sure their kids don't depend on their parents during their parents' retirement! I say this from personal experience being a helicopter parent and having the polar opposite of parenting of myself.

RE: The Key word in Overparenting is the word "Over"

I really enjoyed your article Hara. It is so common for parents to be overly involved in the lives of their young adult children. I really see the effects and impact of such family patterns have on young adults around the country. This "over parenting" leads many young adults to experience 1) increased self doubt 2) procrastination, 3) overachieving, 4) perfectionism, 5) rebellion, 6) not having the tools or experience to think things through, make decisions, face the consequences and be resilient, 7) or expecting others to take responsibility for solving their challenges. The game of life can have its fair share of challenges and if young adults don't have the tools or guidance needed to fall down and pick themselves up, it is going to be tough road ahead.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts as this conversation is an important one for us to have in this day and age. Best, Andrea

Here since many of these

Here since many of these producing carrier's systems can be bought in each and every nook as well as cranny, what makes 1 choose the nearly all PoweredEssays is not scam appropriate 1 such as this That's very needed for just about any producing helps.

As long as we're doing an economic critique

The real reason parents are continue to help their kids along long the beginning of adulthood, is that most young adults can't get self-supporting jobs anymore. Back in the day, your kid didn't have to get into grad school to make a decent living, or even college. An 18 year old could go work in a factory and buy a house in his early twenties. That's unheard of now.

If we don't raise the minimum wage, institute single-payer health insurance, and come up with a better plan for affordable housing, this is only going to get worse.

But sure, keep blaming individual parents for this.

And Enabling After College, Too

It looks like it doesn't stop at grad school; the Wall Street Journal posted in September about companies like Google and Linkedin catering to these parents, as they feel they influence their prospective employees career choice. Parents are coming with their children to work, to job interviews, the first day of work, and, in a bizarre conceding from some companies, special Open Houses for new employees parents to meet the company. Frightening to think about the long term consequences on ones perception of self, confidence and autonomy.

More about it:

Endless Invasiveness

Yes, parents have invaded the workplace, too. They show up for job interviews and demand to sit in on them. They call to negotiate salaries. It appears to be one of the practices that really anger older workers and causes generational friction in the workplace.

Google and LinkedIn are not in the business of doing what's best for the development of young adults. They want to get the most out of their employees, and if the parents of young employees are invested in their children's job, then it's likely said employee will be, too. Colleges and universities, on the other hand, ARE in the human development biz. They have a different obligation, to foster healthy growth. Now that overparenting has been defined by researchers, and criteria established, more studies will be looking at various aspects of the phenomenon—including how it harms young people in the medium and long term.

My fortune 50 company and a

My fortune 50 company and a lot of them will black list a child for having their parents call.

We are in the business of business not parenting and codling grown infants.

This is so, so, so true. As

This is so, so, so true. As a high school teacher I can't count how many times I've been yelled at, cussed at, threatened, etc. by LOONEY BANANA parents who are upset at the grade I "gave" their kid. Wake up crazy parents, your kids are turning out nuts, too. They have no initiative, no sense of adventure and perseverance, and they are so incredibly anxious that they won't have a 4.0.
Oh wait...those are stories from when I worked at an upper-middle class school. When I moved towns I started teaching in a poor school...and the kids are much saner. They may not be monkeys doing tricks for adults' egos (i.e. higher test scores and resume building), but they sure are good at managing their emotions!!
Oh the embarrassment of a parent showing up for grad school admissions...why are you doing that to your kids?!

I teach in a law school.

I teach in a law school. Parental involvement is over the top. My generation are doing their children no favors and the rationale when I ask -is they want happy children, they want to be different than their parents, it is hard to see you kid upset or fail, etc.
I watch students who are paralyzed from fear of failing. They have been supervised by adults since they were born what with play dates and pre-school soccer etc. and they have difficulty in working things out amongst themselves.

Producing Happy Children

Parents do want happy children. But they have no idea what real happiness is or how it is achieved. They think it's the absence of negative or even disquieting feelings. They are terrified their child might spew an "I hate you!" at them.

Happiness is achieved by the mastering of challenges. There's excellent neuroscience research on this subject. Happiness is generated when one is struggling to achieve one's goals and they actually come into view. Ask any CEO...he or she will tell you: All the fun was getting there.

Happiness comes not from the absence of difficulty but mastery of it...precisely what parents want to remove from their children's lives. And so you have young people who have never had to figure anything out in their lives, demand certainty in an uncertain world (they want the test questions in advance), and are terrified of failure.

If your child doesn't spew "I

If your child doesn't spew "I hate you" when they are teens then you probably parented wrong.

But ha ha - if you don't parent them vs. being their friends and not letting them fail - they will be saying it when they are 30 and guess what that one has different results.

How true!

Very good comment, so true!

Unconstructive psychological studies

These studies appear to be from a lack of finding a more intellectual and constructive avenue to pursue. Most parents "do" have their children's best interest at heart and simply want to assist them in any way they can, as many children today are simply intimidated by the bureaucracy that our society has become. In a parent's mind they wish to help while they can, as, if the child does not get assistance they often can end up in situations where, if there had been more guidance from their parents, they could have avoided (for example too much student debt, or being taken advantage of because of their naivety, etc...). I believe this term "helicopter parenting" does nothing to help society and simply attempts to Monday morning quarterback someone's attempt at raising a successful and mature adult. And as for children afraid of failing, that does not necessarily belong on parental blame as society itself has become so judgmental that children are always afraid of what other people are thinking of them. SO think twice before you judge someone.

Most parents who exhibit this

Most parents who exhibit this behavior DO NOT have their child's best interests in mind. They only have their OWN interests in mind, their own dreams, their own insecurities, their own fears, their own ideas, and many do not trust that their child has a brain, and can use it. These parents project all of those things onto their child and are so out of touch with themselves, lacking self-awareness.

Raising a successful adult is about slowly and gradually giving the child more freedom to let the him/her make their own decisions and live out their own dreams. Yes, we are supposed teach them and guide them, but we DO NOT do their work for them. We let them do it, and we help them when needed, when the child is struggling, or when the child asks us.

The term helicopter parenting is just another term for narcissism, google engulfing, narcissistic parents. This type of behavior has been around for many, many years.

FYI: I hate when people blame "society" for people's problems. That is a cop out to take personal responsiblity.

It's Complicated.

From the age of 1, kids are allowed in daycare. Then, they can go to Montessori schools. After that they can go to Kindergarten, then k-12. All this so parents don't have to spend time with their kids. This so parents can go to work and make sure society's machine keeps churning away.

Consider for a moment about the fact that entrenchment in our economy prevents the kind of innovation that would allow parents and their children to spend more time together. The flow of money does not care about your children. It cares about itself and the money addicted among us who ensure its retention and economic entropy.

Parents, you are needed as raw materials for your bosses, their bosses, their bosses bosses, that they may have bigger boats, that third mistress, and the latest Mercedes.

Our society developed to separate kids from their parents to free up parents to be slaves against their wishes. Most psychologically healthy parents want to spend time with their kids; as much time as possible. For it is through our children that we might pass on our souls and through no other means.

Wise parents understand this and do all they can to protect their children from this system of enslavement. Parents too caught-up in Superbowl drama, their next 12 pack, that bigger house they've always wanted, and the lines of this year's F-150 are content to release their children to the grinder that has become our "civilized" society.

Parents who hover want to spend every living moment with our kids, taking every opportunity to provide them the kind of brutally honest insight that you only give to people you truly care about. Parents should care deeply about their kids and let that be reflected in their decisions and actions, because the reality is that parents are the least self interested with respect to their kids, people are all self interested, and bosses, university administrators, teachers, and merchants will not take the time to educate your kids as to the perils of their own creation; credit cards, poisonous junk food, a brain full of useless information from television, or false beliefs that sacrifices made in this life are somehow magically rewarded in a next.

How many parents out there would gladly trade a hefty chunk of their retirement to rewind the clock and spend more time with their kids during those precious early years?

Survey says?

I am a helicopter parent

I like your post, although if people have more in their retirement than they have invested in their kids they never had a conscience to begin with, so I doubt they are asking any deep questions of themselves.


I completely disagree with this article. Helicopter parenting is the polar opposte of neglect, although helicopter parenting is not perfect, studies have shown that children of helicopter parents do better (have better study habits and as a result get better grades) in college than others especially during the acclimating freshman year. Of course, we could ideally all be the "perfect" parents, but helicopter parenting is definitely the better of its polar opposite.

Never did they mention you

Never did they mention you should neglect your children because it's "better" -_- They didn't go from one extreme to the other, they're just looking at one extreme. Of course child neglect is awful- how is that not self-evident?

Helicopter parents really are

Helicopter parents really are into self justifying their behavior. Try therapy and figure out why you need to fix all your life's mistakes through your kids.

The article didn't say neglect - it said ease your hovering as your child ages; develop your child's real sense of self.

The poster who thinks he's doing this to secure his retirement - oy - your kids won't be able to provide for you if they don't know how to think for themselves; succeed on their own or fail on their own.

Engulfing narcissism is

Engulfing narcissism is helicopter parenting.

Also Disagree Because Parents Have Wisdom

Caring parents bring out the worst of their kids? Maybe this describes a very small percentage, but why write an article saying that about all caring parents? I would hate to see this world when these professors get what they wish for. Forget about the few bad experiences you've had and be grateful for the helicopter parents that helped their kid make his way down the right path! You act like kids are totally mature and know exactly what to do. Well, they are not and they don't! They should be able to rely on the wisdom of their parents and will get pushed out of the nest when they are ready! And they all have different "maturity" dates. There is no magical day on their 18th birthday that makes them mature.

OMG - you are so

OMG - you are so delusional.

At what age is your child an adult? The year the state and federal government does; when they can vote; when they can drink; when they max out your credit card?

Cut the cord.

Please, please, please, do

Please, please, please, do not send your kid to college if you feel you still have to helicopter parent them at age 18. Just give them a gap year or keep them at home or WHATEVER, but for the love of God, do not send them to college. That goes for all of you self-righteous helicopter parents who love to defend your delusional parenting tactics.

Helecopter parenting

While you gave your opinion of a solution, you supplied no reason for the "please no" don't do it. So, WHY?

yay for helicopter parents

I couldn't agree more with your comment:)

Wait - don't cut the cord -

Wait - don't cut the cord - therapists are making a fortune dealing with your kids crumbling fake self esteem.

The central point

Somebody somewhere is going to coach your kids.

In High School, we had channel one advertising sugar and sodium packed snacks in the classroom. Refined sugar and high salt quantities adversely influence cognitive outcomes.

Yet, we were put in a box with Channel One and their snack commercials.

In hindsight, I imagine being put in a box with a tiger. I can't decide which would be more dangerous given what Dr. Lustig illustrates in "Sugar, The Bitter Truth."

So, if someone else is responsible for coaching your children, will it be Channel One? How would a parent ever really know? Video feeds in the classroom? What's next? Remote control hugs?

The point is - kids thrive with the right kind of inputs whether they are coming from parents or not. Parents, if given the resources and opportunity, are most easily motivated to instruct their children wisely.

Because let's face it, there are many polluting forces in the world.

Dude - are you a therapist or

Dude - are you a therapist or a self-justifying helicopter parent.

No where in the article does it say in your home you shouldn't enforce your rules and your values. But when you child is 24 and in law school are you going to TELL your child which cereal to choose OR expect your 18 years of direct parenting to speak for itself and your 24 year old will choose wisely?

That's the difference between a parent who expects their children to become adults vs. parents who want their children co-dependent on them lest they try frosted flakes once.

A toddler shouldn't be choosing their cereal at the store or in the home; as kids age their choices should increase but still if you are morally opposed to sugar (not saying that's wrong btw) then you don't allow it in your house and teach your kids to make healthy choices. Your kid could visit my home and be given the choice - without you there to "coach" your child how will they know what they want?

Last I checked - a coach coaches off the field not on.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

Hara Estroff Marano is Editor at Large of Psychology Today and author of A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting.


Subscribe to Nation of Wimps

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.