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Kylie Berndt
Junker
English
30 November 2017
The Fluidity of Helicopter Parents
Hunger struck me at midnight with a specific craving for Walmart’s generic mac n cheese. I obeyed my body’s commands and ventured into the night in search of food. When I was younger, my parents, specifically my mother, limited my time outside when it was dark as one can never know what lurks in the shadows of Harrisburg. This prohibition of venturing made this Walmart trip a new and freeing experience as it seemed like I was breaking barriers only to be shamed by my mother later on because of this late night quest. That feeling of freedom was washed away as I was placed under the spotlight of my helicopter parent. This parenting style can develop trust issues between parent and child along with restrain one’s freedom in regards to both the parent and child. Hovering parents are more harmful than helpful to society, as they prevent the next generation to take responsibility for their actions or make their own decisions. 
A helicopter parent is defined as a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly in educational institutions. These parents are named so because, like helicopters, they hover overhead, overseeing their child’s life. While the metaphor appeared in 1969 in Dr. Haim Ginott’s Between Parent & Teenager book, which mentions a teen who complains: “mother hovers over me like a helicopter” (Ginott 1969), it was Foster Cline and Jim Fay who coined the term in 1990. (Cline and Fay 1990). “Helicopter parent” gained popularity when American college administrators began using git in the early 2000s as the oldest Millennials began reaching college age.Their baby boomer parents earned notoriety for practices such as calling their children each morning to wake them up for class and complaining to professors about grades the children received. (Henderson 2013). 
Helicopter parents control their own children. Diana Baumrind, a clinical developmental psychologist known for her research on parenting styles, has developed three ideal parenting techniques she describes as permissive oppressive, and dependable. Parents with a permissive parenting style are more accepting and positive toward their child, and will reason with them about various decisions. These parents consider themselves to be a resource for their children and don’t attempt to actively change their behavior. The permissive style is more present in single-parent households leading the children that come from these homes to be less self-regulating. (LeMoyne & Buchanan, 2011). 
Authoritarian parents have absolute expectations of their children and traditional obedience is considered important. Rather than reason or negotiate with their children, parents force their children to follow their orders. Children from authoritarian parents are less independent, less likely to adopt societal values, and tend to come from homes with divorced parents.  (Baumrind, 1966).  
Dependable or authoritative parents reason with their children but are firm without being overly restrictive. Decisions are made through parental reason and seniority rather than negotiation, leaving the parent accountable in shaping their child’s behavior. Whether these children are raised in single or two-parent homes, they are more independent, mature, self-regulating, responsible, and cooperative than children raised with the other parenting styles. (Baumrind, 1966.)
Helicopter parents share similar concerns as parents about how they are engaged in helping their children to succeed in life, however, it is during the growing process of becoming independent where the helicopter parent becomes problematic. We would expect parents to worry about their children’s ability to problem solve and succeed but helicopter parents act on these concerns by doing for their child: tasks that children should be grappling with as they mature. As Richard Hofstadter states The intellectual lives for ideas; the journeyman lives off them, in this case, we see those without helicopter parents living as intellectuals. They are able to perform tasks and reach for goals independently with support from their parents encouraging them, but not smothering them, In comparison, we can compare those who are helicoptered as the journeymen. These journeymen know they can rely on their parents to help them, or in some cases perform the tasks for them, and do not reach for these goals whole-heartedly. (Hofstadter, 1953). 
These helicopter parents can also interfere with the development of peer relationships. The transition from being primarily attached to parents to forming attachments with peers is a normal developmental process and is important when adolescents of away to college for the first time. The quality of peer attachment is linked to self esteem, self concept, control, empathy, behavior, optimism, life satisfaction, and scholastic competence. In addition, adolescents who are securely attached to peers yet insecurely attached to parents have more sympathy and less depression or aggression that adolescents who were securely attached to parents but insecurely attached to peers (Ingen et. al, 2015). Thus, an overprotective parenting style can affect a college student’s relationship with fellow students and eventually effect the adolescents functioning. 
Helicopter parenting has also been related to a large number of negative outcomes in children. In a survey held with the CESD-R scale, current helicopter parenting has a significant gender effect. Males reported greater helicopter parenting than females. It was also calculated that past helicopter parenting was not significantly related to it. However, a second study revealed that a sizable number of the previous sample was currently living with their parents and ,similarly to the previous study, current helicopter parenting was not related to depressive symptomatology while past parenting was (Garner, 2013).
Attachment to parents lessens chances of maturity. Fifty years ago, when one reached their early twenties they were considered full-grown. They had completed schooling, left home, joined the work force, and started families of their own leaving their parents free of obligations to their now grown child. Today, though, eighteen no longer represents adulthood, rather the transition towards it. Research done by a multitude of established scholars such as William S. Aquilino and Claudine Attias-Dofnut addressed support of grown children in 1990 revealed that parents were more likely to provide a wide range of support to grown children of any age who were in positions associated with dependency, being in school, being unmarried, or residing in their parent’s household (Aquilino et al. 2000). Eighteen to twenty year olds today are less likely to have a completed education, be living on their own, have a full time career, or enters relationship. These circumstances make young adults react to intense support positively (Fingerman & Cheng, 2012).
Despite the flaws, helicopter parenting can help a person adjust to life. “Trivers”, a classic article in 1974, argued that children seek to increase parental support for their own success. Young adults may view the experiences of their generation as normative as they did not experience the prior parenting patterns. In contrast, parents view the support they provide as non-normative and although young adults adapt quickly, norms and expectations of behavior lag behind social transitions. However, grown children’s reports of intense parental support were associated with better sense of goals and higher life satisfaction while in the past this intense parenting style was associated with poor outcomes (Fingerman & Cheng, 2012). 
One important factor that can help determine whether helicopter parenting plays a helpful versus harmful role in the development of growing adults is the role that parental warmth may play. Four hundred thirty eight undergraduate students participated in a study to measure helicopter parenting, parental warmth, school engagement, and self worth. The study showed both. Maternal and parental warmth were positively associated with self-worth with a significant interaction between maternal helicopter parenting and warmth. Follow up analyses suggested that maternal helicopter parenting was negatively associated with self worth and showed higher levels of risk behaviors for the young adults who reported that their mothers exhibit higher levels of warmth. This study was done in order to prove that the belief that helicopter parenting may be inappropriately intrusive and managing but done out of strong parental concern for well being and success of the child, may be inaccurate. Rather the study states that helicopter parenting is not inherently warm, is not facilitative of young adult’s development, and represents another form of control that is linked to failure to cope when entering adulthood. 
One begins to enter the world and emerge into adulthood as they transition to college. This is a developmental period for one to explore themselves, increase reliance in themselves, and establish equality as an adult with their parents. These helicopter parents prevent these developmental goals. While helicopter parenting is still in its beginning stages, it has been a flourishing subject within the research field. Laura Padilla-Walker and Larry J. Nelson discovered higher levels of anxiety and less engagement in school in children with helicopter parenting (Kourous et al. 2017).
Veronica Darlow, Jill M. Norvilitis, and Pamela Schietze were interested to know what students’ believed to be the perfect degree of parenting involvement. They discovered that parental interaction preference was negatively related with parenting control whereas the students who reported over-parenting were less likely to want higher levels of involvement from parents. First year students tested to be more supportive of parental intervention than senior students, though as predicted, as these students begin to individualize themselves in college they begin to break that dependency on their parents (Darlow et al. 2017). 
Another study revealed that higher levels of maternal and parental prevention focus were related to higher levels of helicopter parenting by mothers and fathers, respectively. In addition, higher levels of paternal regret were associated with lower levels of helicopter parenting by fathers while maternal prevention focus, promotion focus, and interpersonal prefer were associated with paternal helicopter parenting. The final results of this study indicated that parental prevention plays a role in the cause of helicopter parenting and can be taken into account when addressing such parenting behavior, though further research is needed to deepen our understanding of the process that shapes the tendency of helicopter parents (Schriffrin et al. 2014).
Whether pro-helicopter or anti-helicopter, both sides provide a number of studies to support their claims, I hold firm that helicopter parenting holds a negative effect over its generation. Speaking as a hovered child, helicopter parenting didn’t allow me the opportunity to perform tasks on my own, rather I knew I already had a parent fall back on. In my experience I often see that helicopter parenting comes from the maternal side of parenting, as if their instincts increased. This parenting style puts young adults in a comfort zone and cushions them there, making it harder to leave it in the future. Not only does it effect one’s ability to perform certain tasks, but I agree with the study that shows young adults have increased levels of depression and anxiety as a result of helicopter parents. 
In contrast, it is apparent that as my generation is not yet adults we rely heavily on parental support financially and emotionally. As most of the young adults my age are in school, are expanding their knowledge in order to gain a full time career, we are unable to have a stable financial situation which often means parents play an important role in helping us support ourselves. If one does not have these helicopter parents, put yourself in the shoes of those who do. 
Using myself as an example, imagine waking up for work at five o’clock and texting your mother to let her know you are awake. After getting ready, prepare another text to let her know you are walking out of the doors to begin walking to your car and then another message when you arrive to your vehicle. Then you must compose yourself for FaceTime call, so that she can check that you did indeed make it to your car. This obsession in knowing where your is can promote the idea that there is a lack of trust within the relationship. 
Hovering parents are more harmful than helpful to a student’s adjustment to college, as they prevent the next generation to take responsibility for their actions or make their own decisions. As hovered children grow into adults they are unable to perform certain tasks that their parents did for them as children and are more susceptible to mental illnesses such as high levels of depression and anxiety. While these parents teach in different ways, the often strict and forceful nature in which they shape their child’s behavior can have a lasting impact on the child’s personality. If these young adults are unable to develop relationships with peers due to their past obedience to their parents, it can effect their education and functionality in the future. If one does not have these helicopter parents, put yourself in the shoes of those who do. 

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