A Parent’s Report Card

I enjoyed this week’s TIME magazine article on helicopter parents called “Can These Parents Be Saved?” by Nancy Gibbs. It looks at the over-parenting trend and an even newer trend of “rebels” that are trying to get parents to just calm down.

When my kids were in elementary and middle-school, I remember those dioramas that looked as if they were prototypes for a Smithsonian museum exhibit. Ummm… no… actually I don’t think your child did that! Ha ha!!

Anyway, the following quote really stood out, because my youngest is a high-school senior and is just wrapping up her college applications.

“And senior year [of high school] is the witching hour: ‘I think for a lot of parents, college admissions is like their grade report on how they did as a parent,’ observes Madeleine Rhyneer, dean of students [sic] at Willamette University in Oregon.”

To which I add, not only for the parents, but also for the kids themselves who feel their ENTIRE life is being graded by which colleges say yes, which say maybe, and which just flat out say no.

I, for one, am glad to see the parenting pendulum swing back to a more laid-back style. What do you think? Have parents gotten too protective? Has it gotten harder for parents to let their kids fight their own battles, or even (oh, no, don’t say it!) fail once in a while?


  1. Zilke says

    Helicopter parents are making it more difficult for ordinary children to achieve te same type of success as the children of helicopter parents. For some or another reason principals are being sucked up in this game. Parents are so involved at school so that their children may reep the fruit. This is so unfair to children who’s parents don’t have the time or the need to be so “involved”. What is even more scary for me is that these children have to word twice as hard to get half of the credit.
    I think alot of parents are disappointed of the way their lives turned out. Now they are trying to live their lives through their childrens. The problem with this for me, is that these poor children don’t get the chance to develop their own dreams and ambitions, because very thing is set out for them. My parents thaught me to be resonsible and to live my own life from a very young age. Today, I am a beter person for that. My fear is that in a couple of years we will have a generation of young adults that aren’t able to think critically for themselves. Helicopter parents are depriving their children of a healty, responsible adulthood.

  2. Lisa says

    I didn’t read the article, but I have heard of the “helicpoter parents” even extending to college by doing laundry and writing reports! I am a more laid-back parent, allowing my kid to make their own mistakes and holding them responsible for their actions. My now soon to be college freshman served his fair share of lunch detentions in high school over not taking a hat off (school policy-no hats) I certainly didn’t think that the teacher who wrote him up should have served his time! I will push my kids to do what needs to be done, but I won’t do it for them. They need to learn to accept responsibility for their own actions and accept the consequences. Kids should be allowed to fail- we learn best from failures and mistakes- this develops problem solving abilities which they will need their entire lives1

  3. Heidi says

    I teach in Germany and see the same things. Recently I even had an 11-year-old girl who was not able to read the clock, because she never had to. Mummy takes her to and collects her from places.
    Please, parents, let their children find their own way once in a while. Being fit for life is such an important thing, but this needs to be developed. My children are over 30 now, but when they were at school, I felt they had to have some duties and be responsible for their mistakes.

  4. Karla says

    Thank you for posting this article. As a parent and teacher I found it very interesting. I find myself overparenting with my own kids, but criticizing my students’ parents for it. The hypocrisy must end, for me.

  5. Felice says

    Thankyou for posting this article, which i would not have read as I do not subscribe to Time magazine. I think this is an important read so I posted it on facebook. I hope all my “friends” take the time to read it too!

  6. me says

    Agreed. Earlier in the week, a bunch of us were commenting on the Time (I think) magazine article about over-parenting. A colleague mentioned that a parent had gone to the teacher stating that it was her fault that her child received a detention; therefore, she should serve it for him. Over-parenting?

  7. Deborah says

    Hi All, just a quick comment to assure you this “helicopter parents” syndrome is not exclusive to the USA. Here in Oz it is exactly the same. However, this is not a simple issue with a simple solution – and I’m sure it is the same where you live. Giving parents choices is a two sided coin – the parents who are involved with their kids are also the ones who volunteer for everything and make learning opportunities more affordable for all of us! The problems arise when this is taken to extremes.
    We have connected problems here like parents who get their kids tutored to gain entry into academically streamed kindergartens at some schools! As a teacher I see lots of kids who have school for six days a week and no free time for “kid play”. This is a complicated picture for parents at this point in history!

  8. Andy Shen says

    Thanks for covering this topic. As always, it’s healthy to consider the opinions of kids themselves. Readers may wish to peruse http://www.TipsFromKids.com for some refreshingly youthful (and fun to read!) advice from kids to adults.

  9. Dorothy says

    I’m glad to see there is change on the horizon for helicopter parenting. After all, when a helicopter swoops down it blows everything under it in all directions. Nobody can be good at everything. A child who is encouraged to find his/her own way will have space needed to come in contact with their strengths within; the ultimate formula for success. Oh, and let’s not forget, happiness.

  10. Greg Duval says

    The school standard by which we judged each other is as old as the hills. Parents have used this standard as a lightning rod by which to say “look at me!”
    What is most disturbing as of late is the length parents are willing to go to. Such as staying the first week at university with their child to acclimatize them. Phoning professors if they don’t like their child’s grade. Whose life is it?

  11. Nancy says

    I agree totally with Mary Kay. I am a fifth grade teacher in a rural area and see the same things.
    As far as raising kids go–my husband and I were pretty amazed at the helicoptering going on–which we did not take part in. Parents attending my son’s homecoming dates, prom, dances etc. were depriving the kids of independent, “growing up” experiences. My second child is a senior this year and we will be glad not to have to deal with the helicopter parents anymore. I think selfishness on the parent of parents led to
    alot of the helicoptering and the kids were the losers. Play, down time, problem solving and creativity are what children need today and in the standards based educational environment along with helicopter parenting they are being cheated.
    One of the reasons both of my children are highly successful because we made sure they received time and space for these things.

  12. Mary Kay says

    As a teacher, I have been increasingly troubled by the parenting trends called “helicopter parents” here. I live in a rural area where the great outdoors is generally safe and beautiful. Yet many children do not spend much time getting their exercise and fresh air. Every little bump needs an ice pack. Every invisible boo-boo needs a bandaid. Parents rescue their children from the consequences of their actions. Whatever went wrong is someone else’s fault. How will children solve life’s problems or think for themselves if they are taught that they are incapable of doing so? Learned helplessness pervades…

  13. Barbara Feldman says

    Elisha, thanks for pointing out the errors. The typo in Ms. Rhyneer’s name was mine, and I have corrected it. The error in her title was TIME magazine’s, so I have left it in the quote.

  14. Elisha says

    Madeleine Rhyneer, not Thyneer, would be the Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid and the Chief Marketing Officer – not the Dean of students. I think she has enough titles. Please don’t discredit those who actually carry them.