Helicopter parent

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A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or simply a cosseter) is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead, they do not stay long, and then they leave, only to return.

Although some parents enthusiastically describe themselves as "helicopter parents," this trend is ironic, as the phrase is almost exclusively pejorative when used in journalism and other media.


The metaphor appeared as early as 1969 in the bestselling book Between Parent & Teenager by Dr. Haim Ginott, which mentions a teen who complains: "Mother hovers over me like a helicopter..."[1]

Foster Cline and Jim Fay coined "helicopter parent" in 1990.[2] It gained wide currency when American college administrators began using it in the early 2000s as the Millennial Generation began reaching college age. Their baby-boomer[3] and Generation X parents in turn earned notoriety for practices such as calling their children each morning to wake them up for class and complaining to their professors about grades the children had received. Summer camp officials have also reported similar behavior from parents.[4]

University of Georgia professor Richard Mullendore blames the rise of the cell phone for the explosion of helicopter parenting — having called it "the world's longest umbilical cord".[3] Some parents, for their part, point to rising college tuitions, saying they are just protecting their investment or acting like any other consumer.[5]


Madeline Levine has written on helicopter parenting. Judith Warner recounts Levine's descriptions of parents who are physically "hyper-present" but psychologically absent.[6] Katie Roiphe, commenting on Levine's work in Slate elaborates on myths about helicopter parenting: "[I]t is about too much presence, but it's also about the wrong kind of presence. In fact, it can be reasonably read by children as absence, as not caring about what is really going on with them ... As Levine points out, it is the confusion of overinvolvement with stability." Similarly, she reminds readers that helicopter parenting is not the product of "bad or pathetic people with deranged values ... It is not necessarily a sign of parents who are ridiculous or unhappy or nastily controlling. It can be a product of good intentions gone awry, the play of culture on natural parental fears."[7] Dr. Clare Ashton-James, in a cross-national survey of parents, concluded that "helicopter parents" reported higher levels of happiness.[8]

See also


  1. Dr. Haim Ginott (1969), Between Parent and Teenager, p. 18, New York, NY: Scribner. ISBN 0-02-543350-4.
  2. Cline and Fay. Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility. 1990. 23-25. As quoted by Julie Lythcott-Haims in How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. 2015. 4.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Briggs, Sarah; Confessions of a 'Helicopter Parent' (PDF), retrieved May 1, 2006[dead link]
  4. Kelley, Tina (2008-07-26). "Dear Parents: Please Relax, It's Just Camp". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  5. Alsop, Ron (2008). The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up The Workplace. Jossey-Bass. ISBN 978-0-470-22954-5. 
  6. Warner, Judith (July 27, 2012). "How to Raise a Child". The New York Times Book Review. Retrieved July 31, 2012. 
  7. Roiphe, Katie (July 31, 2012). "The Seven Myths of Helicopter Parenting". Slate. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  8. "'Helicopter parents' have more meaningful lives, study finds". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 

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