This solitary phrase—“helicopter parent”—seems to define a parenting problem. It presents a tidy explanation for a failure of parent-child relationships in our country.
There is vast room for rebuttal. The term “helicopter parent” over-generalizes a broad range of parenting styles and minimizes the great amount of consideration and care and decision-making involved in parenting. It paints the American parent as a gregarious meddler, comparing our parent population to those in other countries while not taking into account our vastly varying infrastructure and education systems.
This term ignores the obvious fact that more than half of our nation’s children, from a very early age, spend more of their waking hours separated from their parents than with them. This trend began during the early years of those Americans now in their college years. A variety of caregivers, in a variety of settings, are helping raise America’s children.
Where do parents compensate for that loss of time with their children? It is sensible to surmise that a lengthy separation between a parent and child each day leaves them feeling pressed each day to define their role within the very small together time available, to make action more deliberate, to guide and direct as intentionally and intensely as possible.
Parents are no doubt instrumental in determining a child’s future. We affect the great outcomes. But to blame over-involved parenting as the defining factor in a loss of resiliency undermines the great need we have for more parent involvement.