Don’t Be A Wimp – The Danger of Helicopter Parents

The latest recording of The Boundless Show refers to a Slate article which tells the sad story of a helicopter parent. Entitled I Left My Son in San Francisco: Learning to quash my alpha-mother tendencies and let my kid grow up, Bonnie Goldstein writes of her 19 year-old son’s failure to launch:

I have been working on curbing my rather overbearing alpha-mother tendencies. During Nate’s final year of high school, I impersonated him online, filling out and submitting 11 versions of the Common Application for undergraduate admission. The guidance counselor at his private school told parents such “clerical” support was expected. It became my full-time job.

Read the whole thing. In an interesting discussion, the panel also discusses what sounds like a fascinating new book entitled A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting. From the book’s website:

Armed with hyperconcern and microscrutiny, parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the lumps and bumps out of life for their children today. However well-intentioned, their efforts have the net effect of making kids more fragile. That may be why the young are breaking down in record numbers or staying stuck in endless adolescence.
What’s more, parents are seeking status and meaning in the achievements of their children. The trouble with turning tots into trophies is that the developmental needs of the young are sacrificed to the psychological needs of adults. But the biggest problem with pushing perfection may be that it masks the real secret of success in life. As any innovator will tell you, success hinges less on getting everything right than on how you handle getting things wrong. The ultimate irony is, in a flat world you don’t make kids competitive by pushing them to be perfect but by allowing them to become passionate about something that compels their interest.

The author, Hara Estroff Marano, is an award-winning writer and editor-at-large for Psychology Today, which published this lengthy review article of the book.

One Response to “Don’t Be A Wimp – The Danger of Helicopter Parents”

  1. Bill Nettles May 6, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    We have been looking at Doug Wilson’s Future Men on Wed. nights at church. While not agreeing with everything, we generate a lot of discussion about Biblical approaches to raising sons (and daughters). The night we discussed “fighting dragons” we also discussed overprotective parents who don’t let their children fall and get up without attention.
    The tendency for today’s mother (particularly, but dad’s do it, too) when a toddler falls down is to run and pick them up. Children like attention, so if they fall, often they will cry briefly to see if mom will give the attention. If the parents don’t react, the kid will continue play.
    I’m not saying ignore a bloody nose, but enduring a minor carpet burn on the hand or knee and moving on is sometimes more valuable to a child than mom or dad scooping them up to protect them. They learn that they can survive difficulty without mom or dad solving the problem for them.

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