This is the first of a series of posts on meme of "Helicopter Parenting and the College-Bound Child: A Meaningful National Problem". These are being written, and posted, in series, so some links to be added later.
The college admissions season is over, so a pause in the stories with the themes of "it is so hard to get into college" and "parents/students are cheating to get into college". Now it is the season for breathless stories of Helicopter Parents and the Millennial Generation.
True to form: Duke Magazine in January/February; Why Helicopter? from the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier July 14 2007; Helicopter Horror Stories from the Times Herald-Record July 15 2007; Beyond Helicopter into Tank Parenting at the University of Virginia July 23, 2007; Helicopter Parents Use Facebook to Screen Their Childrens' Roommates August 8, 2007 in USA Today and ABC; Helicopter Parents and the Transition to Work August 10 2007 in the Bend Weekly; Learn How To Let Go July 29, 2007 in the Louisville Courier; The Dangers of Helicopter Parents July 24 2007 in the Statesman Journal.
I'm sure there will be more. But really now. Marianne Richmond, in a post responding to the USA Today-ABC story, wrote
From being buckled into car seats and bike helmets, to scheduled play dates, the Millenials have been constantly supervised and instead of feeling smothered, they apparently report that they feel very close to their parents.
Uhm. That would be middle-class (and above) children, mostly white.
"The major problem nationally is underinvolved parents," said psychologist Michael Thompson, co-author of "The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Find Success in School and Life." "But in affluent suburban neighborhoods, you get a lot of parents who are way overinvolved.
Let's talk about those parents, those who aren't able (or don't want) to provide sufficient nurturing and guidance to their children. What follows is a impressionistic rendering of statistics:
- The drop out statistics : only 68% of 9th graders graduate.
- In 1998, only 27% of American children lived with their biological mother and father. If you aren't in the same town with your child, it's darned hard to be appropriately involved, let alone over-involved
- At any one time, there are approximately 500,000 children in foster care. For every child in foster care, there are 18 full-time undergraduate students.
- In 2005, there were 774,100 black males enrolled as undergraduates, both full and part time (assuming an age spread of 18-24). Data are harder to come by for incarceration rates, but a 2002 study found " there are more black men in jail or prison than in college. At the end of 2000, 791,600 black men were behind bars and 603,032 were enrolled in colleges or universities. By contrast, in 1980 -- before the prison boom -- black men in college outnumbered black men behind bars by a ratio of more than 3 to 1,"
- At any one time, there are up to 1,000,000 runaway/throwaway children in the United States.
Don't get me wrong. There are such things as Helicopter Parents, and they make life miserable for institutions that have to deal with them. They also do their children no favors. But it isn't the biggest problem on the parenting horizon.