“Stop doing their homework.”

Posted On November 24, 2015

I was reading a Washington Post piece recently about helicopter parenting recently when a line in the story stopped me in my tracks.

At the end of a short list of easy-to-use tests to determine whether you are a helicopter parent was the admonition: “Stop doing their homework.”

Parents are doing their kids’ homework? Where were these parents when I was in middle school?

As crazy as that sounds, we all know parents nowadays who coddle their children, who hold their hands through every challenge, who refuse to let them fail. And yes, some of them probably do their homework for them, too.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former dean of freshman students at Stanford, has a simple message for those parents – stop it, because you aren’t doing them any favors.

In 10 years at Stanford, Lythcott-Haims saw too many incoming students with spotless transcripts who couldn’t take care of themselves away from home and too many parents who, even at that level, swooped in to try to fix everything when their children faced challenging times.

Is it any wonder that children raised in these circumstances don’t know how to manage their time? That they don’t know how to react to failure? That their response to adversity is often to just quit and do something else?

Perhaps some of those traits that are so often attributed to Millennials – the sense of entitlement, the tendency to change course at the first hint of stormy weather – can be more accurately identified as the product of growing up under Mama and Papa Helicopter’s rotating blades.

The hovering can have even more serious effects, as Lythcott-Haims cites the rates of depression and other mental and emotional health problems among young people in her book: How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.

“Our job as a parent is to put ourselves out of a job,” she told the Post. If you’re using the words “we” and “our” a lot when referring to your kids’ activities or finding yourself frequently arguing with your children’s teachers and coaches, you may be the problem instead of the solution.

There is often education in failure. Self-sufficiency is learned through practice. So unless you have a time machine and want to take care of a few algebra grades earned by a certain blogger, leave the helicopter on the tarmac and leave the homework to your kids.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, iGen