Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Helicopter Parents: The Whirring Plague, Killing a Generation

For those of you that don't know, a Helicopter Parent is a parent who hovers over every aspect of their childrens' lives, be it by scheduling out every minute of every week to a nosiness crossing the line from vigilance into psychotic.

If you have a complaint about how things aren't what they used to be, you probably have Helicopter Parents to blame.  They can be held responsible for a variety of injustices to the attempted banning of books in schools and libraries to watered down plastic, practically bubble-wrapped playgrounds.  (I never once got a splinter on a wooden playground as a child).

 These things were FUCKING AWESOME!


It gets worse when you actually have to experience these people.  As someone who worked as a camp counselor for three years, little league umpire for three, and little league coach since my younger sisters were old enough to play, I've had to encounter these people on a weekly basis.

When I was five years old, my mother told me (much to my dad's chagrin) that I was old enough to go outside and play by myself as long as I stayed in the yard of our townhouse.  While that might not have been so strange nineteen years ago, nowadays it conjures thoughts of this "horrible" mom.  When I was a kid, my extra-curricular activities involved Little League baseball...and that's it.  I had ample time to myself to play, read, write, draw, or otherwise do whatever the hell I wanted.

These days kids are so over-scheduled it's ridiculous.  I found it from mildly annoying to downright infuriating that my ex had her schedule so filled we hardly had any time to spend together.  If it wasn't one of the five softball leagues she was in (not an exaggeration), it was girl scouts, or training and conditioning, or scheduled family time.

Bane of my Life for Three Years

I think a lot of people will say that parents are simply trying to give their children the opportunities they were not afforded as kids, or that parents are acting on their elevated fears after being bombarded with horrible news stories about accidents and kids going missing.  Certainly this is true in many cases, but I think the underlying reason is far more selfish and sinister.  A lot of parents live vicariously through their kids, imprinting their own life goals on them.  Some also see their kids as the ticket to a better life (hence the ridiculous focus on youth sports).  And still others simply need to maintain an over-abundance of control to assuage their own fears and insecurities about how their kids' actions will reflect on them as parents and human beings.

That last one is really what it's all about, isn't it?  Control.  Why else would I know several women whose parents refused to put them on birth control despite the fact that the parents ALREADY KNEW THEY WERE HAVING SEX.  Read that at least four times so the stupidity can sink in.  Any more than five and you risk rotting your brain though.

This guy won't care
Let's explore that scenario so we can understand the lack of sense that it makes.  A lot of parents don't want their children on birth control (in spite of the benefits such as shorter, more regular, or easier periods) because they think that they're giving their child carte blanche to ride everything with a functional penis.  These girls are already having sex, that "logic" goes out the window.  Furthermore, most parents aren't particularly fond of their teenage daughters raising children, which is an extra incentive to use the pill.  And yet they refuse.  Why?

Because they think that allowing their kids to go on birth control means that they have become enablers to a lifestyle of promiscuity and whorishness (that in each case I know of was legal anyways because the girls were of age).  They feel that in withholding birth control, they are somehow maintaining some sense of morality, and in doing so were a better parent and person for it when all they're really doing is acting like idiots and endangering their children.

 For some reason a google image search for "endangering children" gives me this image.  Remember.  Toast Kills.

It gets worse when I consider the friends that I have that go to college, but still live at home half the year.  Many of them still have curfews, even though they're eighteen (and most of them are over twenty) and have their own vehicles.  Your child isn't a child any more, what right do you have to enforce anything?  Granted many of those people don't pay rent, but I have to ask what is gained by parents attempting to assert that level of control.  (News flash: your kids do whatever they want at college, they're going to do whatever they want at home, they just have to be sneakier about it).

Nothing is really gained, aside from the parental inferiority complex and first edges of empty-nest syndrome being temporarily sated.  Parents don't understand that their job of rasing and protecting a child slowly morphs into encouraging a thinking, reasoning, independent adult to make their own decisions.  Or that sometimes the best thing you can do as a parent is to do nothing.

Granted I am not a parent.  But I am pretty sure that I was a child once.  I love my family, but the defining moments in my life came when I made my decisions on my own, not when my parents were there holding my hand every step of the way.  If you're a parent, and you can't let your kid (or young adult) have some time to themselves, or make their own decisions (and mistakes), then you should be ashamed.  You're not protecting them.  It isn't for their own good.  You're crippling them.  Cut that shit out.


  1. What about teachers getting into trouble because some childs parents don't think their kid did what they were blamed for? The fault for children being the way they are is strictly a fault of the parents. I would NEVER teach in high school or lower because of the crap that teachers have to go through because of students parents. If there's a bratty child in school, blame the parents. If there's a bully in the school, blame the parents. If there's a brilliant dedicated student, blame the parents. If there's a calm, keeps-to-themself student that has lot of friends and learns from his own mistakes, blame the parents. I think there's that side of this argument that may have been lost. Your side is where parents should let their kids learn from mistakes instead of being a huge pile or worry, my side is that parents should be all over their kids if they aren't getting the morals of life quite right. Where's the happy medium? I think your side, with the parents stepping in and being evil parents when children risk more from their actions then they would gain from learning about the consequences.

  2. Certainly true and a good point to make. Probably the subject matter for another blog entry entirely. As someone who has been involved with youth for years, I've seen far more instances of helicopter parents badgering good kids and not letting their kids grow than I have absentee parents not getting in their kid's faces for being failures.

  3. If these girls were really of age then they don't need permission to be on the pill