No one is a perfect parent. That’s about the only thing I know for sure about parenting. And that’s okay because we love our kids and we try every day (when we are not dreaming about an electronic gadget that hangs up wet towels – parents’ fantasies are the best).
Actually, I do know something else. I know there is a time to let go. That’s your job, give them the skills they need to stand a chance in this brilliant but sometimes brutal game of life and then push them out of the nest and watch them open those glorious wings and fly to spectacular places and do amazing things.
Only we are not doing that.
Well, so many parents aren’t doing that. A study from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) released this month, Overparenting and Homework: The Student’s Task, But Everyone’s Responsibility, conducted by clinical psychologist Dr Judith Locke, found that the parents who do their children’s homework at school, are following them to university.
While we used to read similar studies from overseas, Australia has caught on and according to the Herald Sun, “Helicopter Parents” are turning up at universities and becoming intimately involved in their child’s assessments and timetables.
These parents are waking adult children for lectures, doing their university assignments, contacting lecturers over issues, picking them up at “the school gate”, ironing out any obstacle that gets in their offspring’s way, giving their adult child everything they can. They hover, interfere, fret, fix and shadow until their adult child – who surely they want to live in the light – is so fragile, powerless and needy they are really living in the dark.
You can’t fly if you’re 23 and you still need mum to wash your Lion King lunchbox.
Bill Maher discusses helicopter parenting below. Post continues after video.
Dr Locke studied 866 Brisbane high-school parents and warns that Helicopter Parenting can do more harm than good, with children who are over-parented being unable to “fully develop academic responsibility and self-regulation skills”.
Dr Locke said American studies have found parental over-involvement in a student’s university life to be extremely destructive.
“Some parents choose their adult child’s subjects, edit or complete their assignments and badger lecturers to improve their child’s grades,” she said.
“When parents are making these decisions or providing academic pressure it has been found the adult student disengages from their education and often has increased depression and decreased satisfaction with life.
“We know from recent research, that there may be a point where high levels of parental assistance ceases to be beneficial, especially as children reach adolescence and young adulthood, and can result in poor resilience, entitlement and reduced sense of responsibility.”
I’ve seen overparenting at university first hand. Until recently I was studying at a Sydney university and I heard some students joke that their mum or dad wasn’t happy with the assignment mark they got – “they’d worked hard on that and they only got 76”.