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May 10, 2010


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Yay, Delta! *eyeroll* Just read that article on a plane yesterday. I mistrusted the article because it was written by pundits, for managers, and none of it rang true with me (a parent of two 'millenials'). Also the cover of the magazine put me off somewhat -- "here's Katy Perry's (truly spectacular) cleavage, proving we know everything about the millenial generation!" Um. Sorry, Delta. No. On the other hand I *am* totally sold on Brussels and Prague.

thank God

This is a good discussion. I like this.

I think there's a difference in the "type" of helicoptering we're talking about. Marching in to the classroom and demanding that Junior get a better grade simply because he exists - that's the kind of helicoptering that takes away the heart of soul of a child's sense of independence, imagination, and self. It fosters a sense of DEPENDENCE, which is what the commenters have said in regards to their employees and students. "I exist therefore I deserve." That's bad.

You can't swoop in and fight their battles forever.

However, sending your five year old down to the local park alone and telling her, "Come home if you get hurt," (http://www.metro-parent.com/issues/apr10/index.html) (Page 24) I think is irresponsible at best.

There's a healthy balance to be struck here - you can teach and let grow and let go and STILL watch over them.

I have this sneaking suspicion that in reality, little has changed in the way parents take care of their kids.

Growing up, I still remember the moms who were so laid back their kids smoked pot in the house, and the moms who were so uptight and in everyone's bidniss that they called my mother to make sure she knew that I was riding my bike without holding onto the handlebars. There were parents who did their kids' homework for them and parents who threw the kids in the deep end and yelled SWIM!

So if the millenials as a generation all have some traits in common, I'd imagine it's as much a factor of the world they're living, the economy, the technology and the media as the way they're being parented.

I find myself helicoptering in terms of physical safety. I often find myself exhorting them 'not to run on the cement' or some such nonsense. I see physical disaster everywhere, though I try to rein in in. The first time we took them both to the shore, I was an anxious wreck.

Great points brought up in the comments here about independence, but you bring up a great point as well. Childhood is vastly different now than when we were growing up. And most of that is a shame.

There's a lot to be said for having a discussion with kids and reaching a conclusion together vice putting your foot down on every single issue. Not only does it facilitate the relationship, but it makes those "putting my foot down" issues less contentious.

I wrote about this issue recently too:


I accused a mother of being a helicopter babysitter (on Facebook) after she ran down the street screaming "Stranger Danger" at kids in her care who were talking to a guy on a forklift.

My 4-1/2 and 3 year old kids are outside right now in the backyard with the neighbor kid (age 8 or 9, I dunno, and I haven't run a criminal background check on her parents, either), and I'm ignoring the crap out of them. In fact, as soon as I catch up on my blogs, I'm going to go upstairs to fold laundry.

I have several friends who are college profs, and they've all had a variation on the experience of a college student's mommy coming along to the protest-the-grade meeting. Yuck.

I'm not raising kids. I'm raising future adults.

My husband is a college professor, so I think I see the negative side of helicopter parenting through him. I can't tell you how often he's had to explain to a parent that he cannot share information (or change grades or let into a class) their 18+ year old child. While there are outstanding students, he also faces those with little imagination and intellectual interest (and yet they SHOULD get an A for effort alone--a typical excuse).

I totally get helicoptering (we have two under the age of 6), and I don't know how we'll manage the urge to hover as they age.

Good point, Cara. I think there's definitely a happy medium to be found. Collaboration + independent thinking (and working).

Interesting perspective. I'll have to think about this more and try to remember the benefits that come with helicopter parenting. However, I'm going to offer my POV as a manager of new employees fresh out of college (who are the early Millenials) in a professional workplace. Just as something to keep in mind when raising our kids.

It sounds great when written: "millenials happen to be more collaborative with their colleagues, as well as their bosses, and seek out opportunities to work together." I appreciate the focus on the positive. And I have certainly seen the young professionals I work with and manage working together wonderfully. But I've also found that some millenials require A LOT of hand-holding. We are in a busy environment, working for clients who are important and want things done just right. Too often, I've seen younger workers asking for constant feedback and constant instruction. I've also often had to provide the same feedback again and again.

I appreciate people who check in with me, but mostly get general instructions and go get it done. I really like it when people take the feedback they've received and apply it to all the things they are working on. I love it when my colleagues are able to figure out what needs to be done and how to do it with little input from me.

Unfortunatly, I'm finding that I have to (very nicely) explain to some Millenials that that is what I need. I have to guide them to do independent work and explain how to figure out what needs to be done and how to apply good feedback universally. I'm finding that I'm having to teach some of these young men and women things that I expected them to have learned by the time they graduated college.

And now I'm trying to figure out how to make sure I give my children the support and guidence they need while encouraging independence and other skills that I want to see in my employees and colleagues. It's not easy.

Thank you. I agree. In fact, I wrote a blog post about this very subject not too long ago. Check it out if you're interested:


There are worse things in the world than watching over your kids.

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