PARENTS

Come In Helicopter Parents, Your Time Is Up

12/06/2009 08:21 | Updated 22 May 2015

Helicopter parenting has been one of the most visible trends in child-rearing in recent years.

So the cliché goes, the helicopter parent hovers over their child's every move. They micro manage their kids' lives, worrying about every detail, spending many hours and a lot of money ferrying them from one activity to another.

However, some commenters now claim that helicopter parenting is on the way out. They blame the recession for giving parents new worries to focus on.

Writing in The New York Times Magazine, Lisa Belkin predicts that the era of over-parenting might just be coming to an end. Could we be seeing a widescale change in attitudes to parenting? Will it soon be seen as better to pay less attention to your kids' lives, and more to your own?

Belkin blames financial pressures: "When you can't afford those violin lessons or a baby sitter to accompany your 10-year-old to the park, you can turn guilt on its head and call it a parenting philosophy. But is it fundamental change? Or is the apparent decline of over-parenting (and its corollaries: feelings of competition and inadequacy) actually the same obsession donning a new disguise?"

Belkin predicts a new era of parenting, where the archetypal "bad parent" is the one who worries too much.

Skenazy, who famously let her 9-year-old travel on the New York subway alone, urges parents to let go of their fears and let their kids be, well, kids. Her book jacket proudly proclaims her to be "America's Worst Mom", so I guess she's not afraid to be controversial. She urges parents to let their children play outside after dark and walk home alone from school – in other words, all the stuff we did as children, and survived to tell the tale.

She says mollycoddling never leads to the self-sufficiency and success that all parents want for their kids: "The ironic thing is that helicoptering, well-meaning though it was, did not deliver the goods. In fact, it may have delivered just the opposite, because when a parent does everything for a kid, the kid ends up thinking he couldn't possibly do it himself. Like, drive your kid to the bus stop and the bus stop starts seeming too far too walk – and too scary to walk, too, without mum or dad."

Skenazy says that helicopter parenting has to eventually come to a full stop. "This is something that will change," she asserts. "Who has the time and energy to watch their kids every second, and to be at every football game to cheer every time their kid gets near the goal?"

Are you a helicopter or a free-range parent? If helicopter parenting is on the way out, what will replace it?

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