Helicopter parents: we all either know one or have one. These are the parents that go out of their way to make sure their kid has absolutely no chance to do anything wrong. Ever. Aspen—the portal where teachers input grades—has a permanent home in the bookmarks bar. If email had a speed dial, teachers would live there. Parties are not even an option because “free time is for studying.” Friends? Ha! They better be your exact age and gender or be afraid! These parents hover over every aspect of their child’s life to the point where it’s almost suffocating.
The question is: Are helicopter parents really as bad as teenagers hype them up to be?
It’s true that helicopter parents can be overbearing, but I think everyone can understand that it comes from a place of love and concern for the child’s best interest. For teenagers especially, one can never be too careful — good friends means good decisions. Good decisions means more studying. More studying means good grades. Good grades means good colleges. Good colleges eventually mean a better job. That has been drilled into the head of every helicoptered child. It’s all well and good until brainwashing is no longer enough.
This is not to be confused with “snow plows,” however. “Snowplow parents” are basically the evil step-sibling of the helicopter. These parents have all the qualifications of helicopters, but they take an extra step by getting rid of any obstacles their child might face. They are the parents that make teachers pass their student. The parents that yell at the coach for not playing their “all-star.” The parents that show up to job interviews. Nobody likes that parent. Don’t have one. Don’t be one! A lot of times, kids and parents can learn from each other and with snowplows, this is one of the times the kid needs to take over the parenting.
PSA: If you or a loved one is the victim of a snowplow parent, please talk to them. Tell them you need your life back. They can’t fight your battles forever and are hurting more than helping!
During high school, tests get harder, homework takes longer, and more extracurricular activities are available. The issue for helicopters and snowplows is that their expectations don’t fluctuate with the workload. Even as work gets harder, in AP and honors classes especially, overbearing parents expect the same grades from elementary and middle school. With unwavering expectations, students are left with a bar so high they start to feel like they may never reach it.
With parents like these, there’s really only two options: parents lower their expectations or children reach much higher than they feel is attainable. We all know, lowering expectations either takes a very weak helicopter or a very strong argument, so many of us feel like we are left with option two: high jumping over the bar our parents have set.
Some manage to meet expectations, barely getting over the bar. They have cut short on sleeping, have little to no social life, and eventually realize that they’ve dedicated their entire time in high school to assignments.
For most of us, hopelessness sets in. We’ve disappointed so many times, we don’t think we’ll ever make these parents proud. Some students begin to suffer mentally. We turn to cheating on homework to save time for other subjects or just to get adequate rest. We turn to sports and other hobbies to keep ourselves out of the house and our minds off of our parents with hopes that in a few short years, it’ll all go away (Personally, I’m not sure it ever will, but fingers crossed).
So how do we deal with these parents? You could delete Aspen from their phones, change their email password, convince your teachers never to speak to them again, and delete your contact in their phone. But that takes a lot of work, a lot of lies, and for most helicopter parents, a lot of grounding.
There is a more conventional method: talk to your parent about how you feel and how they feel. The majority of the time, the hovering comes from a place of love to the point that fear and/or worry take over the parenting. I don’t think it’s on purpose, but in their defense, making a good human is a huge responsibility. It’s terrifying to think that in a few years they won’t be able to protect you. They only want the best of us because they think we’re worthy of the best. They also don’t know how you feel. They only get the waves of aggression and stress you send as you close yourself in. You need to eventually make your own decisions and eventually, parents are going to need to come to terms with that, as scary as it is.