Open up your mind and your potential reaches infinity…

Exit: the generation of baby boomer parents.
Enter: the Generation X parents.

Being an offspring of a baby boomer parents, I grew up listening to stories from my parents of how different they were from their own parents—concerned and caring and proactively involved in their children’s upbringing. I had always noticed that majority of the parents of my mom-dad’s generation invaded into their children’s privacy and took decisions for them, including which profession to chose, who to marry and so on. (unless one was rarely lucky to have at least a Dad like mine, who was different enough to be called an exception to this the rule).In fact, the term called ‘personal space’ did not exist at least in our generation and especially in our society.

I had always presumed that we the parents of generation X were far more open and appropriately caring generation of parents , only until I came across a research from study by a researcher Neil Montgomery, a psychologist at Keene State College in New Hampshire. And then from a book called Millennials Go to College by authors Neil Howe and William Strauss. The book includes new data from surveys conducted of 1,000 college parents and 500 college students.

Gen X parents,the book claims, the generation after boomers, tend to be more protective and involved with their kids than boomers; 63% parents say they began planning for their kids’ college education in elementary school or earlier. Strauss says parents do this because they want accountability in light of rising tuitions.
“College has become a major investment, and you have to keep close tabs on it like you would any major investment,” says the author. “We tend to be a bit more of a helicopter parent because of it.”
HELICOPTER PARENT? I wondered as I read. So what is this new word? And I research on the net.

The word, helicopter parent, is the advent of early 21st century. It is a self-explanatory term that exemplifies the stock-in-trade of this type of parent:Hovering. Their children cannot move in any direction without the parent correcting, interfering, manipulating, or browbeating both their own children and everyone else who interacts with their children on a regular basis.
Helicopter parents are the bane of every coach’s existence. They hover over and interfere in nearly every aspect of their children’s lives. Teachers hate them, other parents avoid them, babysitters pay them lip-service but otherwise ignore them. Even pediatricians and Sunday school teachers have a hard time tolerating them.
Research reveals that among the gen X ,60% to 70% of parents are involved in some kind of helicoptering behaviour.

Various settings or places acknowledge the existence of this set of parents with a different yet appropriate nomenclature-

In Scandinavia, this phenomenon is known as ”curling parenthood” and describes parents who attempt to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children.
Some call it is “overparenting”. Parents try to resolve their child’s problems, and try to stop them coming to harm by keeping them out of dangerous situations.
Another interesting term being ”Lawnmower parents” to describe mothers and fathers who attempt to smooth out and mow down all obstacles, to the extent that they may even attempt to interfere at their children’s workplaces, regarding salaries and promotions, after they have graduated from college and are supposedly living on their own.
As the children of “helicopter parents” graduate and move into the job market, bosses, managers, personnel and human resources departments are becoming acquainted with the phenomenon. Some have reported that parents have even begun intruding on salary negotiations.
An extension of the term, “Black Hawk parents”, has been coined for those who cross the line from a mere excess of zeal to unethical behavior, such as writing their children’s college admission essays.
The rise of the cell phone is often blamed for the explosion of helicopter parenting — it has been called “the world’s longest umbilical cord” . Experts say cellphones and other devices foster strong bonds in today’s smaller families-hence enabling the parents to ‘think’ that they keep tract of every movement of their child. Even the kids get so dependent that they call back to their mom’s cell be it in home or at work place, for slightest of a problem.
A sketch of a typical helicopter parent:The research suggests that most helicoptering is done by mothers who are hyper-involved with (usually) their sons’ lives( fathers are more likely to use strong-arm tactics to get results.).

Providing everything to the child at the bleakest of demands and not letting them learn by falling or making mistakes.
She buys all of his clothes, cleans his room and does his chores, such as making his bed, arranging his books and even laying the meal on the table and then calling him for it. If the child is really preoccupied in his studies she might even give him bites in his mouth..
She helps the child do all the homeworks perfect and then prepares all the tests in order for him to get the perfect grades. And goes to the extent that revises hsi entire syllabus with him a day before the exam so that he does not miss a mark in the exam.
Drops and drives the child to school or college and back in the car, so that he faces no hardships and delays on the way.
Decides for the child what subjects to choose and what university to go, upto the extent of getting the iniversity brochures and even filling up the forms on his behalf.
If the child sits in an exam—mom waits outside the exam hall all through praying he does well.
Pushing the kids into activities that the parents fancy without bothering to know if he likes it or not..
And at times even when it is time for the cuddly son to go for a work interview and she drives him to the interview and feeds all the way as to what terms and conditions he should demand from his prospective employer.
In a summary, to be constantly hovering 24×7 over their children from preschool to the workplace.
To put it in few words—dreams of the moms to make their kids into SUPERKIDS.
Having said so much about the moms—I still feel there do exist some helicopter dads too.
Why do parents become helicopter parents?
Helicopter parents claim that they indulge into their children’s lives because they want the best for them.
Some parents use overindulgence “as a guilt management tool,” say experts. “(Other) parents just can’t see why you would deprive a child.”
And then there are cases of parents who were not supported or well taken care of as children. As a result, when they become parents, they tend to overindulge in their children. They promise themselves that their children will have better lives than they did. “They don’t want to upset their kids by not giving them the things they want,”

Does helicopter parenting help?
People whose parents are “laissez-faire,” giving their children whatever they want, are the most unhappy.. They tend to have low self-esteem and feel unworthy.
Psychotherapists believe that parents love their children so much they can’t stand to see them in pain, but then that’s not love. A parent’s overindulgence can have other negative effects, as well.
The child of a Helicopter Parent learns that she is not responsible for her own actions. Mom is.
Consequently, the kid will grow up and not be mentally or physically tough enough to survive out in the world,
Students with helicopter parents tended to be less open to new ideas and actions, as well as more vulnerable, anxious and self-consciousness, among other factors, compared with their counterparts with more distant parents.
If parents step in too early in problem or social situations, the children do not have the opportunity to gain necessary social skills and survival skills that are normally acquired during adolescence.
Consequentially such children will not know how to be responsible and will have problems with authority.
The role of the parent is to prepare a child to make it in the world on their own. The research reveals that the children of “authoritative” parents – strong parents who allow children some bargaining power – are the most happy.
A good mom allows her children to make mistakes, to learn how to win and lose gracefully, and to develop constructive problem solving skills.
Parents have to be consistent and strong,” research claims, or else, “ children will never respect boundaries or discipline”.
the researcher recommends that the parents must constantly keep a check on their actions and think about what they are doing as they raise their children, and be aware that there is such a thing as ‘over-parenting’.
The researcher hopes his work leads to more research in the area, including large studies on different populations of children, such as high-school and middle-school students. Future studies will hopefully bring about a clearer picture of helicopter parenting.
A helicopter parent may have good intentions, but her interference could make her child’s life much more difficult in the long run.
All helicopter moms, kindly think….
(PS Baby boomer parents generation: parents born post WWII between 1940s and mid 60s.
Generation X parents: born from late 60 s to early 80 (upto 1982).)


6 December 2010

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