When I was a kid, my mom would send me out to play after breakfast and I wouldn’t come home until dinner.
Scores of older Americans describe their childhoods this way. Kids today know little of this freedom to wander during unstructured Saturdays. Between organized play dates and soccer games coached by mom or dad, today’s kids grow up with a lot more parental supervision than their parents did.
One particular brand of supervision — where mom or dad is always hovering just a few feet away even after their children have grown — has become something of a cultural phenomenon. Last year alone, helicopter parents and their adult children were the subject of stories in Forbes, Time, U.S. News & World Report, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Times, New York Post and Psychology Today.
In these stories, parents called graduate school admissions offices on their children’s behalf and sat in on meetings with their grown son’s and daughter’s professional career coaches, among other jaw-dropping faux pas.
Studies show that the parenting style probably hasn’t reached the epidemic proportions the media suggest, but it is nevertheless a reality professors, administrators and students face at many universities.