'Helicopter' parents have neurotic kids

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The study, which surveyed college freshman, is one of the first to try to describe precisely what helicopter parenting is, and measures it. The term was at first coined by college admissions workers when they started to notice a change in parents of prospective students – parents would call the admissions office and try to intervene in a process that had previously just been between the student and the college, said study examiner Neil Montgomery, a psychologist at Keene State College in N.H.

While the findings are only preliminary, and more studies are needed to back up the results, they propose this kind of over-parenting might lead to children who are ultimately not ready to leave the nest. Montgomery and his colleagues surveyed about 300 freshmen with a survey the researchers particularly designed to assess helicopter parenting. They focused was on college students, for the reason that college is a “crisis point” in the relationship between the helicopter parent and the child, Montgomery said. At this phase, the parents no longer have control over their child’s life and can’t keep track of them like in the past.

About 10 percent of the members had helicopter parents. The rate was higher in girls than in boys, with 13 percent of the females being “helicoptered” compared with just 5 percent of males. And it was mainly mothers doing the hovering, Montgomery said.

Students with helicopter parents tended to be less open to innovative inspirations and actions, as well as more vulnerable, anxious and self-consciousness, among other factors, compared with their counterparts with more distant parents. On the other hand, in non-helicoptered students who were given dependability and not constantly monitored by their parents, so-called “free rangers” the effects were reversed, Montgomery said.

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