The term “helicopter parents” has become so familiar in our culture that it is now commonplace.  Visual imagery brings to mind the overly protective, hovering parent or parents who, with (they would certainly say) all the best intentions, go beyond historic norms of their parental role to make sure that their child has the optimum life experience.

This is a growing dynamic for university administrators and faculty as the hovering has, in recent years, become not only more evident, but more aggressive.  I read recently of the newest version of the phenomenon: “Apache helicopter parents,” describing the growing aggressiveness of many parents to make the reality THEY want come true.

I suspect many of you would be startled by some of the manifestations of this posture, but for increasing numbers of parents fearful that their child will be overlooked, under-served, not viewed as special, or whatever the fear might be, the behaviors are more evident than ever before.  It is not uncommon to speak with a Student Affairs professional or faculty member and hear story after story of a parent calling to find out why her daughter wasn’t chosen for the sorority she wanted to join, or a father calling the President’s Office to complain about his son not being given a chance to make-up an exam he “accidently” slept through.

This ultimately brings me to a conversation about “fair.”  I often ask my students what they mean by that – thinking that what we’re after is equity – but I sense in this day and age, it has come to mean something more like, “I want what I want, when and how I want it.”  If that is true, then how can that be “fair” to everyone?  I don’t think it can.

That said, I’d like to pose a question for parents to consider (and reconsider every day): “In what ways might I be expressing what I think is a sense of “fairness” that may lead to my daughter/son remaining dependent upon me to act on her/his behalf?”  Here’s to pondering the question as it leads to our children developing a stronger sense of self-competency!

To illustrate the point, the link below is to an episode of the TV show Portlandia.  Enjoy! http://www.hulu.com/watch/317267/portlandia-helicopter-parents

Peace, Dane.

Author: Dane

Dane Anthony’s career in higher education spans 30 years on both public and private university campuses. In addition to serving as a faculty member, he has worked in the areas of Counseling, Residence Life & Housing, Student Health & Wellness, New Student & Parent Orientation, Parent Programming, and University Chaplaincy. Dane & his wife have 3 grown children and currently reside in Nashville, TN.

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