The mere mention of the term ‘helicopter parenting’ is enough to spark a huge debate at any dinner party or forum, with new parents and old expressing their opinions on the best practices.
The mere mention of the term ‘helicopter parenting’ is enough to spark a huge debate at any dinner party or forum, with new parents and old expressing their opinions on the best practices. I remember a post I shared on my social media a few months ago on this topic created much fervour among my new mom friends, as they carefully debated the pros and cons of it.
While there is no doubt that all parents work in the best interest of the children and do the very best they can from what they know, when parenting styles impact future performance and behaviours, especially in the workplace, they are subject to much scrutiny.
The concept of helicopter parents and its identified impact on individuals later on in life and work, is one such carefully researched and analysed topic.
The term “helicopter parenting” was first coined in 1990 by Jim Fay and Foster Cline in their book, Parenting with Love and Logic that gained importance with the college admissions staff who noticed how parents were actively involving themselves in the admissions process.
According to research, there are three key types of behaviour that can be defined as helicopter parenting. Parents who seek detailed information about their children’s lives, limit their children’s autonomy, and intervene directly in their children’s lives. While it is important that parents actively engage with their children, the study suggests that there is a fine line between involvement and control that needs to be managed. For example, a parent who calls the college professor to check up on a student’s performance or those who write the CV for their child applying to college or for an internship or job.
In the Indian context, the combination of helicopter parenting with our own cultural conditioning and concepts of raising children in a more protected environment, has had an adverse effect later on in life.
It has been identified that the children of helicopter parents tend to have a poorer emotional functioning, poor decision making capabilities, low problem solving skills, and were less prone to empathetic and pro social behaviors. While there are some good elements to helicopter parenting, when they practice information seeking without control, tipping the balance scale can significantly impact the development of the child.
Michigan State University surveyed over 700 employers who were looking to recruit recent college graduates and found that a third of them had parents submitting resumes, a quarter had parents calling in to urge them to employ their son or daughter, and about 4% of parents even showed up to the job interview!
Some of the key impacts of helicopter parents that are visible in the workplace are as follows:
*Poor decision making capabilities: When parents take the role of the advisor or mentor or sounding board a step further and make every decision in their children’s lives, they limit their ability to discern and take decisions later on in life
*Inability to handle failure: In a constantly disruptive and evolving world, building resilience as one of the key skillsets is critical.