Did we hang around the college campus too long when we dropped our child off that fall of freshman year? Did we call too often? Visit once too many times? That's not what Julie Lythcott-Haims is talking about when she talks about overparenting and overprotecting college students or, to use the trendier term, helicopter-parenting them. A former Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising at Stanford University, Lythcott-Haims has seen the effect of helicopter parenting on Stanford students. Here's some of what she had to say about it in her book, How to Raise an Adultand in an interview with Tech Crunch
FROM THE BOOK:
"Too many of us do some combination of overdirecting, overprotecting, or over-involving ourselves in our kids’ lives. We treat our kids like rare and precious botanical specimens and provide a deliberate, measured amount of care and feeding while running interference on all that might toughen and weather them. But humans need some degree of weathering in order to survive the larger challenges life will throw our way. Without experiencing the rougher spots of life, our kids become exquisite, like orchids, yet are incapable, sometimes terribly incapable, of thriving in the real world on their own. Why did parenting change from preparing our kids for life to protecting them from life, which means they’re not prepared to live life on their own?
...The dean in me may have been concerned about the development and prospects of young adults who had been overparented—and I think I’ve made better choices as a parent thanks to spending so much time with other people’s young adults. But the parent in me has struggled with the same fears and pressures every other parent faces, and, again, I understand that the systemic problem of overparenting is rooted in our worries about the world and about how our children will be successful in it without us. Still, we’re doing harm. For our kids’ sakes, and also for our own, we need to stop parenting from fear and bring a more healthy—a more wisely loving—approach back into our communities, schools, and homes.
FROM THE TECHCRUNCH INTERVIEW:
You were at Stanford a long while. At what point did you think: It’s weird how involved all these parents have become?
I began to see it more and more over time – parents who were coming to the university with their sons and daughters and sticking around, sometimes literally and often virtually. I found it bewildering. My own experience as a student in the ‘80s didn’t include much involvement from my parents at all, and I began wondering what if my parents had been expected to register for my courses, settle roommate disputes, talk with my professors about my grades. Not that long ago, 18- to 20-year-olds had the capacity to do those things for themselves, and now, they seemed not to.