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Thread: Helicopter moms: WTF?

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Default Helicopter moms: WTF?

    Oct. 21, 2005 — - Robyn Lewis is an extraordinarily devoted parent. As a single mom, she home schooled her sons, Ethan and Brendan, and her life has revolved around caring for them. Even though Ethan, 21, and Brendan, 18, are now attending college away from home, and she's taken a full-time job, that doesn't mean Lewis is losing interest -- or hour-by-hour involvement -- in her boys' lives.

    When she's not on her cell phone with one of the boys, she's organizing their lives. She spends an hour drafting to-do emails for her sons, checking their grades, their bank account balances, and even using their personal passwords to check their student email.

    Lewis works tirelessly to keep everything in her sons' lives in order -- from doing their laundry, to organizing their schedules, to proofreading their papers.

    And Brendan and Ethan both say they're grateful for their mom's efforts on their behalf. "She wants to make sure that I do it well, and it, and it's all because, you know, she cares," said Ethan, who's studying at Florida Gulf Coast University.

    Brendan, a freshman at Arizona State University, also appreciates his mom's help. "It's nice to have someone else who kind of serves as & a secretary mom."

    And the secretary characterization doesn't bother Lewis. "I think that's great. It means that I'm very organized. A secretary helps to keep the boss focused and organized, right? We don't know how to balance much of our lives yet when we're 18," she said.


    Can Parents Be Too Involved?
    No one could deny Lewis loves her sons and wants them to succeed. But not everyone thinks that she's helping them.

    "I can understand why a parent would think, 'I'm just doing what I think is right for my son or daughter.' The problem is, they're doing exactly what's wrong for their son or daughter," said Helen Johnson, author of the book, "Don't Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money."

    Johnson is a consultant on parental relations for some of America's top universities, and she says parents like Lewis are far too involved in their children's lives.

    "In taking over, they are sending a profound message: You are not capable of handling your life," she explained.

    Johnson is more than familiar with the term now in vogue to describe someone like Robyn Lewis: a Helicopter Mom.

    "A helicopter mom is a mom who hovers over every state in her child's development, from basically in utero, through the college years and beyond," she said.

    Administrators say helicopter moms -- and dads -- have become a campus phenomenon.

    Nationwide, there's a 12,000-strong advocacy group called College Parents of America -- emblematic of parental eagerness to get their money's worth in an era of skyrocketing tuition costs.

    But there are other reasons why some parents and their college kids are staying so close: There's been a change in the way students once prized their on-campus freedom from home, and perhaps above all, technology means parents can still hover from a long way away.

    "We certainly have parents calling about everything. Everything from 'who will be doing the laundry for my son or daughter to if they have to miss a few weeks of class,' [to] 'can I come in and sit in on the class and take notes for them,'" said Annie Stevens, assistant vice president for student and campus life at the University of Vermont.

    At the University of Vermont, parents attend seminars aimed at limiting their involvement in their children's lives. They're sent home with refrigerator magnets, with instructions that reinforce the university's hands-off philosophy.

    "One of things we want to teach the students and to have students learn is to try and help solve issues and problem on their own," said a resident adviser at the school.

    Like Ethan and Brendan Lewis, Heather Fagan, a student at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth, enjoys the benefits of "helicopter parenting." Every morning, she gets a wake-up call -- or two or three -- to help her get out of bed.

    "They wake me up every morning, they're my alarm clock," she said.


    Learning to Let Go
    Johnson says this is worrying trend. "It's horrifying to me to hear the story that a parent is calling a child three or four times in the morning to wake them up in college. ... Are they planning to do that for the rest of her life?"

    But Gail Fagan, Heather's mom, said she'll do it as long as she's needed. And that's a sentiment Lewis would agree with. She'll do as much as she can for as long as she can. She currently drives two hours to Ethan's dorm to clean it up, do his dishes and pick up his laundry twice a month.

    Eric Chester, president of the training and consulting company Generation Why, Inc., sees this high level of parental involvement as a high-level problem for employers, who face a new generation of workers.

    "If you've always micromanaged their life, then that kid is going to be dysfunctional in the workplace, regardless of what their skill set is," he said.

    It is a reality that Lewis knows she needs to face. She is proud of the artistic and intelligent children she's raised, but know there'll come at time when she'll have to let go.

    "She's like the most selfless person on the face of the planet. I mean, she will give and give and give and give and give, and when she's got nothing left to give she'll keep giving. She has succeeded in every aspect of giving my brother and I everything a kid can ask for," Ethan said.

    But for Lewis, letting go can be the hardest thing of all. The lists and the calls don't just help her sons, they help her stay close to them. "These habits are very hard to break and I'm still doing them. I'm trying to wean them off more and more so that they can become more self-reliant," she said.

    But as much as she wants the boys to be self-reliant, she wants to keep making the to-do lists, calling them three times a day, and reading their school papers.

    "I want them to be able to become their own person, as long as we stay close and I don't want to feel that all of this micro-managing mothering has crippled them in any way to not be able to relate to other people," she said.

    That was last year. This semester, Brendan has continued at Arizona State, but Ethan is transferring to the University of Hawaii.

    And Lewis knows an even greater separation is yet to come when the boys settle down and start families of their own.

    "When they get married, I'm not going to be the most important person there, and I know that," she said. "You go through a period of withdrawal, and then hopefully, you get to be best friends with their wife. And you have a good relationship, and then she'll call you and tell you what he's doing."
    I have to say that these womn, and men, need to get a life. Can you imagine what it would be like to date one of these kids? 'Sorry, I need to check with my mom and see if it's ok for me to get laid tonight'.

    I keep hearing people complain about kids, but when you hear about parents like this, you realize that the kids are just part of the problem. Although I do think, at age 20 or 21, you should have the good sense to tell mom to back off. Thoughts, please?
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Elite Member olivia720's Avatar
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    oh god. i wish that mom would go on dr phil. they're not selfless, they're control freaks. it terrifies them ; the idea of letting go. they think the whole fucking world will fall apart if they dont micro manage. and they're not teaching their kids anything. they're making them too dependent. any moron could see that. i wonder about the emotional intelligence of people like this. God, get a freakin life outside of your family!

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Well said, Olivia. These 'kids' are going to be emotional cripples.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    SVZ
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    i would kill myself. or at least unplug the phone.

    i can't imagine those kids having much of a social life.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    So she's a complete retard by undercutting her childrens ability to do anything for themselves, and keeping them dependent on her throughout their adult lives in some sort of twisted remedy to empty nest syndrome?

    LET GO , BITCH. You're fucking up your kids.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    A*O
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    If she's that horrendous as a mother - can you imagine what she's be like as a mother-in-law?? Not that any sane woman would go anywhere near those boys. They will end up living at home with Mommy Dearest, just like she planned.
    If all the women in this place were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised - Dorothy Parker

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    Hit By Ban Bus! DisruptiveHair's Avatar
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    My mom would have laughed her ass off if I had even hinted that she needed to drive to Austin to do my laundry or clean my dorm room.

    Fucking pathetic.

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    Elite Member nana55's Avatar
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    How sad and ridiculous. These are moms who define their whole being as being a mom. They want to be needed because they have nothing else. As close to my kids as I am and we are close, my job as a parent was to raise them so I could let them go. We do them no favors by controlling every aspect of their lives. Those boys are sick too. How can they stand her calling all the time?
    If I can't be a good example, then let me be a horrible warning.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    They probably can't. If i were them I'd throw the phone away.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Gold Member Elise's Avatar
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    I dated a guy whose mom was like that. He is 23 & has to call her EVERYDAY. He forgot one day & she called him, crying, saying that he'd broken her heart. After that, I broke it off.
    A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror. -Ken Keyes Jr.

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    I know someone who spoke on the phone at least three times a day with his mother, even when he was living in her house at times, except when he married a woman she didn't approve of. Then they didn't talk until the divorce less than two years later. As soon as the split happened, they were back talking on the phone up to ten times a day. She would answer the phone by saying, 'Hello, lover.' This went on until he was in his early 40's. Then she died, he didn't sleep for days and hasn't really been the same since. Oh, and guess who the second wife looks like. Hehehehe...creepy, eh?
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Gold Member barbiedoll25's Avatar
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    Thank God I decided to not procreate. Imagine living my worthless life thru my children.

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Eh, I love my kids but I'm not crazy enough (usually) to pin all my hopes on them helping me find fulfillment in life.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    A*O
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    My kids are individuals I 'borrowed' while they were young and needed to be brought up properly. They are not extensions of me. Nor are they the sole purpose for my existence on this planet. As soon as they are ready to be pushed out of the nest they are outta here. Some women need to cut the cord. Grrrr.
    If all the women in this place were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised - Dorothy Parker

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    Gold Member EvilMonkey's Avatar
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    Didnt you get the memo about cleaning your room?

    This is unacceptable. Im afraid this was the final warning.

    Im sorry son but we are going to have let you go. Im afraid you will have to seek a new family. Heres a weeks pocket money in lieu of notice.
    An EM is like a Scientologist - Unhinged and Unbelievable - Now shutup and place your hands on my EM-Meter

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