Are You a Helicopter Parent?

By Jennifer LeClaire

June 04, 2008

Are You a Helicopter Parent? Are You a Helicopter Parent?

Amy Tiemann, Ph.D., author of Mojo Mom, says parents would do equally as well to cut the electronic umbilical cord once their kids move out of the house. She suggests a daily call is acceptable, but calling so often that the kid is spending more time on the phone with you than experiencing the freedom of college life is not.

Brokering Roommate Disputes

“Unless there is a genuine crisis involving serious heath and well-being issues, parents should not intervene in academic or residential issues,” Tiemann adds. “This means staying out of grading disputes or roommate arguments.”

Some colleges are hiring a Dean of Parents, whose job it is to focus on parental complaints about roommates, expenses and their child’s emotional well-being, says Stacy DeBroff, CEO of Mom Central, Inc., a national mom expert and regular guest on The Today Show.

“There comes a point when as parents, we just have to let go and hope we’ve taught our children well enough that they have problem-solving skills, without always relying on parents to intervene,” DeBroff says.

Black and White Hovering

Still not sure if you are a helicopter parent? Our experts laid out some pure and simple examples in black and white.

  • Helping your daughter with a few suggestions on how to structure a difficult research paper is acceptable. Researching the subject and writing large sections of it for her is not.
  • Attending your kid’s college orientation is acceptable. Hanging out in the dorm room to help them unpack their clothes and negotiating phone usage times with the roommate is hovering.
  • Suggesting career paths for a kid who is obviously talented in certain areas is helpful. Mandating their course schedule in line with those talents is overboard.

“Parents need to know that hovering and interfering send the message that their adult children are incompetent to handle their own lives,” Tiemann says. “Being supportive is great, but it is important to realize that this is a new phase of life that requires independence.”

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