I took a quiz at Newsweek
to see if I was a "helicopter parent." Okay, so my kid is seven years away from college but I already know that I am not and will never be, a helicopter parent (I hope!). The Newsweek
article described the process of boomer parents letting go of their children. I warn you, it doesn't sound pretty:
Most boomers don't want to be "helicopter parents," hovering so long that their offspring never get a chance to grow up. Well versed in the psychological literature, they know that letting go is a gradual process that should begin when toddlers take their first steps without a parental hand to steady them. And hovering is certainly not a new phenomenon; both Gen. Douglas MacArthur and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had mothers who moved to be near them when they went to college. But with cell phones and e-mail available 24/7, the temptation to check in is huge. Some boomer parents hang on, propelled by love (of course) and insecurity about how the world will treat their children. After years of supervising homework, they think nothing of editing the papers their college students have e-mailed them. A few even buy textbooks and follow the course syllabi. Later they're polishing student résumés and calling in favors to get summer internships. Alarmed by these intrusions into what should be a period of increasing independence, colleges around the country have set up parent-liaison offices to limit angry phone calls to professors and deans. Parent orientations, usually held alongside the student sessions, teach how to step aside.
I will never understand these parents who hover over their children like this. Is it just one more selfish boomer characteristic that they feel their child is an extension of themselves and they try to live vicariously through them, or is it the fear that the kid will come home to live in the parent's basement if they do not succeed? Either way, wouldn't it be best to teach one's child independence and how to care for themselves? I thought that is what good parenting was about. Apparently, good parenting to some boomers is to extend adolescence to the age of 30-35 and then complain when Johnny or Jane moves home because they never learned to make it on their own. Truthfully, I would rather have a young adult who could care for themselves and had no college education (or attended a state school) than I would one who went to Harvard and then used me as a crutch the rest of his or her life.
Update: Some thoughts from Glenn
(Instapundit) on why parents are having so few kids to "hover around."