Helicopter Parent

helicopter parent

Helicopter parent is a colloquial, early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. The term was originally coined by Foster W. Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay in their 1990 book ‘Parenting with Love and Logic.’

Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not. They try to resolve their child’s problems, and try to stop them coming to harm by keeping them out of dangerous situations.

The concept of the ‘Tiger Mother,’ among Asian families is similar, and in Scandinavia, this phenomenon is known as ‘curling parenthood’ and describes parents who attempt to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children. Helicopter parents are also called ‘lawnmower parents’ when they attempt to smooth out and mow down all obstacles, to the extent that they may even attempt to interfere at their children’s workplaces, regarding salaries and promotions, after they have graduated from college and are living on their own.

The rise of the cellphone is often blamed for the explosion of helicopter parenting — it has been called ‘the world’s longest umbilical cord.’ Parents, for their part, point to rising college tuitions, saying they are just protecting their investment or acting like any other consumer. Risk management is a key skill for everybody, but which some children are denied; helicopter parents often restrict their children’s activities, and alongside the constant supervision of children is extreme risk aversion and a disproportionate paranoia about risks covered in media reports such as paedophilia and kidnapping.

2 Comments to “Helicopter Parent”

  1. I would like your permission to use that wonderful drawing of a helicopter parent in a PowerPoint presentation I will be doing on generational differences. Thanks for getting back to me…Vicki McCready

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