I remember racing to the bus stop as a kid. We always tried to be the first one there as there was some weird pride we took in being first to board the bus. Now, helicopter parents hold their kid’s hand as they hover above them every step of the way. Just the other day as I was driving to work I passed three bus stops. At each stop, parents were hovering over their kids waiting for the bus to arrive. I didn’t stick around to see if any parents got on the bus with their kid, but it wouldn’t shock me if they did.
And forget about walking or riding a bike to school. Kids that walk or bike by themselves to school have dropped from 48% to 13% between 1969 and 2009. This was not accompanied by an increase in general danger to children.
My wife is a teacher and runs into overbearing parents all the time. She talks about parents who constantly text their kids while at school. Parent’s that bring their kid’s lunch or homework to school when they forget. And parents calling to ask why their kid received a poor grade on an assignment.
Many parents don’t stop hovering after their child is out of school. Check out these fun facts from a recent study.
- 30% of recruiters have had a parent submit a resume for their child
- 25% have been contacted by a parent who feels their child should receive a job
- 15% had a parent complain when their child wasn’t hired
- 12% have had a parent call to schedule an interview for their child
- 10% have had a parent call to negotiate their child’s salary and benefits
- And the best of all, 4% have seen parents show up to interviews with their child
Can you imagine a prospective employee’s parent showing up with them to an interview? Please tell me none of you are the 4% who have seen this. I can’t imagine what I would do. Um, sir, you already have a job. It’s time to let little Billy get his own.
Consider the impact of helicopter parenting on finances. It starts in college. Many young adults do not have the critical thinking skills to determine how much a degree will cost them versus how much they can expect to make in their chosen industry. After all, the hovering parent has always been there to make this decision. Many have lived a life of no consequences and have been told they can do anything they want. The result is naïve kids racking up huge student loan debt for worthless degrees.
Millennials, the group most likely to have helicopter Gen X parents hovering over them, already rank lowest in financial literacy compared to previous generations. In a 2014 FINRA Report, only 24% of millennial respondents could answer 4 of 5 financial literacy questions accurately. The questions covered fundamental concepts expressed in everyday life such as the impact of a longer term loan on the total amount of interest paid.
While Millennials do save more than other generations when at a similar age, they lack the knowledge and confidence to invest properly. It’s hard to blame them when they’ve always had mom or dad there to catch them before they fell. Hell, they were there to make sure they didn’t trip in the first place. Investing can be intimidating for those just starting out. Even more so for those who haven’t had to think for themselves before. The result is a Millennial generation that is afraid to invest, leading them to put money into accounts that are too conservative for even retirees.
Helicopter Parents: Please Stop
Failing is a part of life. Learning from our mistakes is the number one way we grow and get better. Always being there as a safety net to catch your kid before they fall is not helpful. It results in young adults who are not self-sufficient, struggle to make decisions, and lack confidence. This is not a recipe for future success. There is a fine line between being involved in your kid’s life and being over-controlling. Be a guide for your children, but resist the urge to take control of the reigns.
Readers, how do you view the effects of helicopter parenting? Were your parents controlling or did they take a more hands off approach? Are there any benefits you can see from helicopter parenting?