Helicopter Parents: Learned Helplessness of a Generation

Adding to my amazement that 8% of college grads take their parents along on their first job interview comes this news that it’s now a subject of scholarly research:

“While parental involvement might be the extra boost that students need to build their own confidence and abilities, over-parenting appears to do the converse in creating a sense that one cannot accomplish things socially or in general on one’s own,” wrote the authors, two professors from California State University Fresno. The authors of “Helicopter parents: An Examination of the Correlates of Over-parenting of College Students,” Jill C. Bradley-Geist and Julie B. Olson-Buchanan, go on to detail how over-parenting can actually ruin a child’s abilities to deal with the workplace.

Vannucci also had a college-aged client whose parents did her homework for her. The client’s mother explained that she didn’t want her daughter to struggle the same way she had. The daughter, however, “has grown up to be an adult who has anxiety attacks anytime someone asks her to do something challenging” because she never learned how to handle anything on her own.

Barrow knows classmates who call after every test, or whose parents text or Facebook asking how particular questions went. “Those kids are still very reliant on their parents making decisions and doing their everyday life,” she said. “It’s a tough way to head into life if you are reliant on other people to help with decisions.”

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