Helicopter parenting is creating high school grads who can’t compete at the college level.
Helicopter parenting is the over-protection, coddling and enabling that, despite the parent’s best intentions, produces overly-entitled young people who are unable to cope with even the most insignificant of challenges.
I believe that helicopter parents are responsible for the growing mental health crisis in our colleges and universities. Armed with great love but misguided notions, these parents are raising kids who, by the time they reach the post-secondary level, are having emotional melt-downs on a regular basis.
In a recent Toronto Star article, education writer Andrea Gordon, talked about how more and more high school kids are showing up at the guidance office with mental health issues, and how school counselors are stretched to their limit and understaffed.
Writing in Slate Magazine, author Julie Lythcott-Haims argues the correlation between helicopter parenting and student mental health issues. When parents over-protect their children, the children fail to learn how to take care of themselves; when parents do too much for their children, the children fail to learn how to do things for themselves. This leads to kids growing up with a lack of confidence and a lot of anxiety around even minimal challenges.
Most helicopter parents are just trying their best to help their kids, but by doing too much for them they’re stunting their emotional growth. These kids grow up not knowing how to stand on their own two feet, solve their own problems, advocate for themselves or bounce back from adversity.
Some helicopter parents are overly-invested in their kids’ performance, convinced that if their kids do well at high school, they’ll feel better about themselves. These parents will do their kids’ homework, they’ll call up the teacher or the principal to argue about grades, and they’ll pressure colleges to accept their kids, even when the kids don’t meet the admission requirements.
The children of this type of parent are at a double disadvantage: not only are they unable to cope on an emotional level, but they also haven’t been allowed to develop the academic skills that would lead to success in post-secondary education or their future careers. When faced with mediocre grades and the stress of the expectations associated with higher education, these kids are primed for a breakdown.
Recently, for my Ruthless Compassion podcast series, I interviewed Dr. Holly Rogers, a psychiatrist in charge of student mental health at Duke University in North Carolina.Rogers…
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