final - Ram Pages

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Maryam Alqallaf
Professor Khoury
Focused Inquiry 112
December 5th, 2014
Helicopter Parents
In August 2010, Dr. Robyn Silverman who is an Adolescent and a Child/Teen
Development Specialist was interviewed by CBS channel to discuss the problem of helicopter
parents. Silverman identifies that Helicopter parents are parents who seem to 'hover' over their
children in an effort of trying to control their lives, in order to protect them from harm. Dr.
Robyn states that it’s a problem that goes all the way to college (Silverman 2010). Clearly these
parents are overprotective because they fear for their children's safety and future, Although
Silverman acknowledges that parents should protect their children however as a parent they
should also teach them how to be safe and independent, she pointed that there is a line between
protection and over protection, “Who where what when why” these questions are signs of being
over protective and it means that you are crossing the line (Silverman 2010). The underlying
problem is that These parents have a hard time letting go, they are constantly intervening with
their college student’s life; and they are overprotective by not letting their children make their
own mistakes or at least learn from them. Moreover college is where students should learn to
depend on themselves, build their unique character, learn from their mistakes, decide which
major they would study and be passionate about, and if the level of constant monitoring and
involvement by their parent is high they might become frustrated to experience a healthy college
life. Parents should avoid helicopter parenting young adults in college because it negatively
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impacts young adult’s identity in terms of limits their autonomy and it may lead to depression
and anxiety. Helicopter parenting will be applied to these negative impacts.
Parent’s involvement in college is limiting their children’s autonomy. According to the
former dean of Harvard College, Harry Lewis in 2006, recounted that “growing numbers of
parents call professors about their children's grades, sometimes wanting to take up the arguments
for their children and sometimes wanting explanations for their child's grade” (qtd. in Cullaty
426). Any reasonable and good parent is going to be concerned about the progress of their
children in college. Parental involvement is related to many positive child outcomes such as
making sure that the child is on the right path towards a successful bright future. These parents
attach their identity to the successes and accomplishments of their children. However this care
could cross the boundaries of the independence of the child. These parents are calling their
children's friends to settle arguments, talk to teachers to protest a bad grade. Meaning that
helicopter parents are affecting the young adult negatively by interfering with college’s purpose.
College needs for autonomy to increase within students, as they peruse becoming more
independent. Everyone is going to make mistakes along the way. If children were given more
freedom to experience failure they will learn from their mistakes and apply them towards future
life lessons. It seems that Parents should learn to control their level of involvement in their
child’s college life. According to Brooke Donatone, a psychotherapist in New York City in his
article “Why Millennials Can’t Grow Up” where he talked about one of his clients “ Amy, like
many millennials, was groomed to be an academic overachiever, but she became, in reality, an
emotional under-achiever. Amy did not have enough coping skills to navigate normal life
stressors—how do I get my laundry and my homework done in the same day—without her
parents’ constant advice or help”. In his article he referred to her as Amy, which was not her real
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name due to the privacy policy. He mentioned how she was used to have her helicopter parents
since she was a little kid and they left her in college where she struggled to manage her time and
everyday work with out her parents’ involvement. She could not complete her homework and
she was unable to even do laundry. Not forgetting to mention Amy was 30 years old. This brings
me back to Dr. Robyn Silverman who emphasized the necessity to teach children everything
from how to study to how to manage their time without out doing it on behalf of them, to avoid
such situations. Clearly Students need to build their own competence and over-parenting does
not allow that to happen. Students seem to fail accomplishing things on their own without their
parent’s involvement. Parents need to prepare their children to college by educating them to be
independent adults.
Helicopter parenting in college may cause young adults to suffer from depression and
anxiety. According to a researcher Rick Shoup, from Indiana university center for postsecondary
research he points out a study in his article “running head: IMPACT OF HELICOPTER
PARENTS” that “college students with highly involved parents reported greater per- sonal
competence and increased personal and social Development” (qtd. in Schiffrin 549). He granted
that parent’s involvement was generally considered positive. At first this may be considered
reasonable because clearly Parents have good intentions behind their involvement in their
children’s life. Such attachment make the young adult loved and feel confident that there is a
constant support that help him or her through life difficulties. Being between loving parents
obviously will make kids emotionally stable and happy and more efficient in college. However a
researcher, Holly Schiffrin from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, has found that
these studies did not distinguish between the amount of parents’ involvement and the type of
involvement (Schiffrin 549). For example involved parents may ask their children how was their
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presentation, while helicopter parents will ask their children continuously about their
assignments, tests and grades. According to Lemoyne and Buchanan “College students who
reported that their parents were over-involved and controlling in their lives had lower
psychological well-being and were more likely to take medications for depression and anxiety
(qtd. in Schiffrin 549). Meaning Regardless of cluelessness, the level of constant monitoring
from parents is causing them to be depressed and anxious, because their parents are continuing to
influence and even have direct control over their lives. Financial future concerns are also
another important aspects behind their depression. Parents have economic fears for their
children, that their young adult will not be able to have good grades in college and then later on
fail to find a job with a good salary and that is why parents step in based on their experience and
start taking care of everything avoiding any mistakes along the way. That is why these young
adults are depressed because they lack control over their lives; have not been given the
opportunity to experience freedom in making their own choices and to learn from their mistakes.
Peter Singer, who is a moral philosopher, would agree with Schiffrin, in his article "The
Drowning Child and the Expanding Circle.” He states that, “We now have good scientific
evidence for what philosophers have said throughout the ages: once we have enough to satisfy
our basic needs, gaining more wealth does not bring us more happiness،”. While parents maybe
basing their decisions solely on monetary gains, because of the economic fears that students may
not take college seriously if they were not over controlled, or they would but they will not find a
job with a good salary, based on singer’s philosophy he would believe that there are things that
are more important. When parents are the ones making their children’s decisions, the child is left
with no voice. If the child is in a field where he has good income and yet he is depressed because
he does not really feel passionate about his job, he will end up hating his job and possibly failing
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at it. In this case, society will have a problem as well. From these perspectives it seems that not
only that Helicopter parenting somewhat fails to help young adults be successful in their lives
but also fails to provide a relationship with their parents where young adults are happy and
satisfied in college period and what comes after.
Many people argue that helicopter parenting may sound outwards an ethical and ideal
thing from parents to try to help their children yet, when being analyzed it comes to a conclusion
that children are suffering from the over involvement. The question is will the over involvement
ever end? In summary, young adults would experience a healthy college life if parents step back
and gave their children the opportunity to experience failure by themselves. That way we can
prevent children from dealing with depression because of their parents involvement, that results
also in limiting their autonomy. And what kinds of parents discover that they are making their
children struggle to grow up and depressed and would continue this action of overbearing in their
lives. However, we should also ensure that parents must be involved as a constant support more
like a guide that children could consult when necessary.
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Work cited
Singer, Peter. "The Drowning Child and the Expanding Circle." Focused Inquiry. 2014-2015 ed.
Plymouth, MI: Hayden-McNeil, 2014. 380-383.
Cullaty, Brian. "The Role of Parental Involvement in the Autonomy Development of Traditional
-age College Students." Journal of College Student Development 52.4 (2011): 425-39.
Project Muse. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
Schiffrin, Holly. "Helping or Hovering? The Effects of Helicopter Parenting on College Students’ WellBeing." J Child Fam Stud 23 (2013): 548–557. VCU Libraries. Springer Science Business Media
New York 2013. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.
Donatone, Brooke. "What’s Wrong With Millennials? My Psychotherapy Clients Can’t Fend for
Themselves." Slate Magazine. The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company, 2 Dec. 2013.
Web. 2 Dec. 2014.
CBS. “Eye on Parenting: "Helicopter" Parents.” Online video clip.
YouTube. YouTube, 18 Aug. 2010.
Web. 4 Dec. 2014.
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