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Helicopter Parents Clayton Jones Barbara Smithgall Monroe Community College High School Counselor Workshop Spring 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Helicopter Parents Clayton Jones Barbara Smithgall Monroe Community College High School Counselor Workshop Spring 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Helicopter Parents Clayton Jones Barbara Smithgall Monroe Community College High School Counselor Workshop Spring 2007

2 Definition A helicopter parent is a term for a person who pays extremely close attention to his or her child or children, particularly at educational institutions. They rush to prevent any harm from befalling them or letting them learn from their own mistakes, sometimes even contrary to the children's wishes. They are so named because, like a helicopter, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach whether their children need them or not.A helicopter parent is a term for a person who pays extremely close attention to his or her child or children, particularly at educational institutions. They rush to prevent any harm from befalling them or letting them learn from their own mistakes, sometimes even contrary to the children's wishes. They are so named because, like a helicopter, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach whether their children need them or not. Helicopter parents hover. They are always on the lookout for threats to their children's success and happiness. If a problem does surface, these parents are ready to swoop in and save the day.Helicopter parents hover. They are always on the lookout for threats to their children's success and happiness. If a problem does surface, these parents are ready to swoop in and save the day.

3 Examples Heightened parental involvement is one of the biggest changes on campus in last decadeHeightened parental involvement is one of the biggest changes on campus in last decade Telephoning administrators about grades, and roommatesTelephoning administrators about grades, and roommates Intervene with the teacher or principal every time their child complains about a person, an assignment, or a grade.Intervene with the teacher or principal every time their child complains about a person, an assignment, or a grade. Correct, complete, or rewrite their child's admissions application and/or homework assignments to ensure that they are done correctly and neatly.Correct, complete, or rewrite their child's admissions application and/or homework assignments to ensure that they are done correctly and neatly. (audience participation)

4 Statistics Show… More than 50% of the students surveyed indicated that parents were “very involved” in college planning activities. The College BoardMore than 50% of the students surveyed indicated that parents were “very involved” in college planning activities. The College Board Usually mothers who are hyper-involved with their sons lives; fathers more likely to use strong-arms tacticsUsually mothers who are hyper-involved with their sons lives; fathers more likely to use strong-arms tactics Generation X & Millennial parents are more likely than Boomers to be overprotectiveGeneration X & Millennial parents are more likely than Boomers to be overprotective Helicoptering is not an exclusively middle- and upper-class phenomenon, as many assume. All income levels are represented to some extent, as well as both genders and every race and ethnicity.Helicoptering is not an exclusively middle- and upper-class phenomenon, as many assume. All income levels are represented to some extent, as well as both genders and every race and ethnicity.

5 4 categories of Helicopter Parent’s “Vicarious College Student.” These parents missed out on the extracurricular offerings, socializing, cultural resources and fun when they were in college and want a second chance.“Vicarious College Student.” These parents missed out on the extracurricular offerings, socializing, cultural resources and fun when they were in college and want a second chance. “Helopat.” includes those who fight for fairness and may feel that universities aren’t giving all students equitable access to resources and opportunities. They believe that no child should be left behind and stays abreast of state and federal requirements for their child.“Helopat.” includes those who fight for fairness and may feel that universities aren’t giving all students equitable access to resources and opportunities. They believe that no child should be left behind and stays abreast of state and federal requirements for their child.

6 4 categories cont’d “Only want what’s best for my child” parents require that their offspring get in the best classes the university offers, access to the most-lauded professors, the newest dorm, in the very best major (inevitably leading to the highest-paying job). The “Consumer advocate” parents who view each phase of the college experience as a business transaction and want the most bang for their buck. They expect that a degree in X will equal a job as Y, with a salary of Z. To keep tabs on their investment, they may expect the college to overlook a minor technicality called the Family Rights and Privacy Act and produce progress reports on demand. If any aspect of the negotiations or purchase proves unsatisfactory, they will demand their money’s worth.The “Consumer advocate” parents who view each phase of the college experience as a business transaction and want the most bang for their buck. They expect that a degree in X will equal a job as Y, with a salary of Z. To keep tabs on their investment, they may expect the college to overlook a minor technicality called the Family Rights and Privacy Act and produce progress reports on demand. If any aspect of the negotiations or purchase proves unsatisfactory, they will demand their money’s worth.

7 Why this behavior? Several cultural shifts over the past 20 years: Technological advances that allow people to stay connected 24/7 It’s just extremely easy to cross the line between being involved in a child’s life to being over-involved.Technological advances that allow people to stay connected 24/7 It’s just extremely easy to cross the line between being involved in a child’s life to being over-involved. Parents’ safety concerns escalated after events such as the Columbine High School shooting and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks; feel helpless to protect them. Virginia Tech.Parents’ safety concerns escalated after events such as the Columbine High School shooting and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks; feel helpless to protect them. Virginia Tech. Don’t want to replicate the less-attentive child-rearing style of their own parents…latchkey childrenDon’t want to replicate the less-attentive child-rearing style of their own parents…latchkey children Lack of awareness, specific expertise regarding the child, high costs of education, parents’ desire to be needed.Lack of awareness, specific expertise regarding the child, high costs of education, parents’ desire to be needed.

8 Negative impact of Helicopter Parents Parents ultimately feel more anxiety. Study: Society for Research in Child Development states that parents who judge their own self-worth by their children's accomplishments report sadness, negative self-image, and diminished contentment with life in general… parents' anxiety and dissatisfaction with life have markedly increased during the past 20 years because of over involvement in their children's lives.Parents ultimately feel more anxiety. Study: Society for Research in Child Development states that parents who judge their own self-worth by their children's accomplishments report sadness, negative self-image, and diminished contentment with life in general… parents' anxiety and dissatisfaction with life have markedly increased during the past 20 years because of over involvement in their children's lives. Children's growth is stunted. Numerous students are arriving at college without basic social and survival skills. With their parents always ready to step in, kids are failing to learn accountability and responsibility.Children's growth is stunted. Numerous students are arriving at college without basic social and survival skills. With their parents always ready to step in, kids are failing to learn accountability and responsibility.

9 Community College’s & Helicopter Parents: Texas study was done on more than 50 interviews with officials from 10 four-year public universities across the USA.Texas study was done on more than 50 interviews with officials from 10 four-year public universities across the USA. We work with a large amount of ‘Only want what’s best for my child’ & ‘Consumer advocate’ parentsWe work with a large amount of ‘Only want what’s best for my child’ & ‘Consumer advocate’ parents Sometimes are embarrassed to be at a community college. Expect that the Admissions process will be a breeze and their son/daughter is ‘above’ placement testing or is obviously the best candidate for our Dental Hygiene program. Typical issues that make helicopter parents take flight: Placement testing, competitive admissions programs, IEP’s, home school, residence halls, transfer creditPlacement testing, competitive admissions programs, IEP’s, home school, residence halls, transfer credit

10 What some colleges do to deal… Approach: making education more important than customer service.Approach: making education more important than customer service. Orientation for parents: scripts that allow parents role-play through scenarios. Seton Hall and, Alma College of MichiganOrientation for parents: scripts that allow parents role-play through scenarios. Seton Hall and, Alma College of Michigan Creating Parental Liaison OfficesCreating Parental Liaison Offices Issuing the colleges philosophy on self-reliance to parents: “We will not solve problems from students because it robs them of an opportunity to learn.” Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y.Issuing the colleges philosophy on self-reliance to parents: “We will not solve problems from students because it robs them of an opportunity to learn.” Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y. Hiring students as ‘parent bouncers’ to keep from interfering with advisers. University of Vermont.Hiring students as ‘parent bouncers’ to keep from interfering with advisers. University of Vermont. Here at MCC: College 101 for parentsHere at MCC: College 101 for parents

11 Strategies for working with Helicopter Parents Acknowledge that the parents are partners and have desire to be involved.Acknowledge that the parents are partners and have desire to be involved. Encourage the parent to encourage the students to seek assistance through colleges Admissions OfficeEncourage the parent to encourage the students to seek assistance through colleges Admissions Office Give overview without being extremely specific details (when possible)…”Most students in this case…”Give overview without being extremely specific details (when possible)…”Most students in this case…” Obtain information on support services at two and four-year collegesObtain information on support services at two and four-year colleges Help parents know how to be involvedHelp parents know how to be involved –High School Counselors are our allies. A united front and consistent information will help parents know how to be involved and empower students.

12 Healthy Hovering Recognizing that parents may have better communication skills and specific expertise about their child…and that the college environment is much different that high school, we should all be encouraging healthy hovering.Recognizing that parents may have better communication skills and specific expertise about their child…and that the college environment is much different that high school, we should all be encouraging healthy hovering. Encourage parents who you speak with to: Help their child learn to be a strong self-advocate.Help their child learn to be a strong self-advocate. Let their child call the admissions office and debrief afterwards.Let their child call the admissions office and debrief afterwards. Begin taking a coaching role in the area of finance.Begin taking a coaching role in the area of finance. Visit campuses and attend information sessionsVisit campuses and attend information sessions

13 What students say In a recent survey of 1,700 high schoolers by The College Board and the research firm Art & Science Group, about 95 percent of them said their parents are “involved” or “very involved” in college planning activities.In a recent survey of 1,700 high schoolers by The College Board and the research firm Art & Science Group, about 95 percent of them said their parents are “involved” or “very involved” in college planning activities. About 60 percent of the surveyed high school students are happy with this degree of participation, and about 30 percent actually want more help.About 60 percent of the surveyed high school students are happy with this degree of participation, and about 30 percent actually want more help.


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