Are You a Helicopter Parent?

I recently took an online test to determine if I am a helicopter parent.  Ironically, it was a helicopter quiz!  After every question, it gave me immediate, condescending feedback about whether my opinion was right or wrong.  And with several of the questions, I didn’t like ANY of the options; they were all too helicopter-y for me.  Let me give an example from the quiz I took:

When my child brings home a poor grade, I:

  1. Run directly to the phone to call the teacher. When she doesn’t answer, I call the principal.
  2. Talk with my child about the grade and contact the teacher to discuss ways we can help my child improve her academic performance.
  3. Yell and scream at my child and tell her that if she doesn’t bring up her grade, she’ll be grounded.

Uhm, how about 4?  I am not even aware my kid has a poor grade.  We operate under a strict “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy! Apparently the quizmasters never thought of that one.

Helicopter parent is a colloquial term for 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.

A recent Time article talks about the side effects of helicopter parenting:  kids who are incompetent and depressed.  We have to allow the little chicklings to peck their own way out of the egg or they do not have the strength to survive, as this wise and adamant person said online:

Do NOT help your chicken out of its shell!!! It needs to do it by itself! If you help a chicken out of its shell then it could get sick or even die. The chicken knows what to do. Some people think that its ok but don’t listen to them!

So it is with children.  Although they may not become sick and die, they will not develop into adults (or chickens) if they are not allowed/forced to learn how to fend for themselves.  This parenting style is also creating a lot of “rubber band” kids:  kids who return home to live after college rather than finding their way in the world.  Look, if my parents hadn’t sped off so quickly after dropping me at the Y, I might have come home more often too.  This rubber band phenomenon is worse thanks to the high unemployment rate in the wake of the global economic crisis and the tendency of Mormons to marry in infancy college.

I have observed a lot of overprotective parenting behaviors in the church and among the rising generation of parents in general.  Especially when the parents are nutjobs view the world as a dangerous place full of moral perils, they may be overprotective nutjobs.  Here are a few things I’ve seen among LDS teens heading off to college or missions:

  • Children with zero non-member friends.
  • Kids who don’t know anyone from a culture or background that differs from their own.
  • Teens – or even older – who have never kissed anyone.
  • Kids who are totally unaware of basic pop culture because of very limited exposure to TV, movies or music.  Not just an ignorance of Godfather references.  I’m talking Harry Potter!
  • A girl in her twenties who didn’t know the basics of how babies are made.*

Is this why the incidence of depression is so high in Utah?  Do parents teach their children that they need to be taken care of and are not capable of thinking for themselves?  The difference between a behavior being helicopter parenting and normal good parenting all depends on context and the age of the child (trust should increase with age).  What is appropriate when a child is in kindergarten becomes overparenting by middle school.

Helicopter parents want what is best for their children:  academic success, achievement, for their kids to be treated fairly, for their child’s specialness to be recognized and acknowledged, for them to feel safe and protected.  Parents start with good intentions and end with bad behaviors.  Part of growing up includes learning that life isn’t always fair, that kids need to take feedback and make improvements to do well, that they have to advocate for themselves at times, and that they won’t always have a safety net.

Do kids leave their restrictive home environment and go straight into an episode of Girls Gone Wild?  Or simply wet themselves when they have to learn to feed themselves or fight their own battles?

The church itself sometimes behaves like a helicopter parent:

  • Strictly correlated materials and a prohibition from using outside sources in teaching.
  • Adults as well as youth being encouraged to follow the standards set out for the youth.
  • Members are sometimes encouraged to police each other.  Certainly those attending BYU are encouraged to do so, as the honor code stipulates turning in other students for violations.
  • Women can’t meet without a man present.  Men can’t teach children without another adult present.
  • Being told (erroneously but still frequently) that “once the brethren speak the thinking is done.”
  • Members meeting with leaders regularly to account for their tithing payments and temple worthiness.
  • Some of the instructions in the White Bible on the mission felt pretty helicopter-ish.  So did many all of the BYU rules.
  • The Word of Wisdom could be seen as too restrictive to prevent extreme abuses that are rare.

Does this result in our being perpetually dependent rather than developing our own spiritual power and personal revelation?  Does it result in morally reckless behaviors for those who leave the church (like those Amish kids on Rumspringa)?

  • Are you a helicopter parent?  Why or why not?
  • What helicopter parent behaviors do you see at church or in the community?
  • Do you see the church “overparenting” its members?  Or do you see us given more than average trust and freedom (e.g. lay clergy, missions, members do the sermons)?

Discuss.

*But she had great hair and an unbeatable Primary Voice.  I did threaten to beat her, and it didn’t stop.

Comments

  1. Depression rates in Utah are no higher than any other intermountain climate in North America. There is zero convincing evidence to show that Utah Mormon culture is any more or less depressed than any other culture.

    The only data we have on the subject is an inconclusive study on anti-depressant use. Which completely ignores that anti-depressants are used for a lot of other things besides depression (like ADHD).

    Also, I’d like to see a bit more argument or evidence for the rather bold claim that LDS marriage ages have anything to do with “failure to launch.”

  2. Oh, I forgot, the study also doesn’t really account for the ways the rest of American culture popularly self-medicates for depression – booze. Nor does it note that higher use of prescription anti-depressants could actually signal a mentally healthier community, not a less (i.e. maybe Mormons are just more likely to seek proper expert care).

  3. Hmmm, they want me to be teacher dev instructor in my ward, and I have been on the fence about it. This post may actually be an answer for me. These are things I think need to be taught not to do, (mouthful, I know, sorry). I think I may very well do this and see if I can influence a change in the culture and direction…even if only in my ward.

  4. I really don’t think that the church encourages independent thinking, which is why there is so much backlash against the asking of questions. There is too much emphasis on conformity of practice and belief, not enough acceptance for the fact that we all believe a little differently and that that’s ok.

  5. How about giving us an option 4? I vote for “This post is full of massive overgeneralizations, false formulations, and ridiculous declarations that red is actually a warm shade of green, so that sensible discussion is actually impossible.”

  6. shawnclow says:

    Nancy Ross,
    If the “Church” doesn’t encourage independent thinking, why should that stop you. You have agency, use it. An understanding of that agency coupled with not tolerating others violating said agency is a wonderful thing. Such things can always be backed up by scripture and words of real prophets. :-)

  7. Oregon Mum says:

    I agree with most, except that I was “wrong or defective” because as a teen I had never kissed anyone. Not that I was opposed to it, it’s just that no boys were interested in me. I’m from a part-member family and my parents didn’t hover at all. Most of your statements in those examples are of things young people or their parents can have some degree of control over, such as access to pop culture and learning/experiencing diversity. Kissing is on another level because you can’t do it without a willing partner. Please don’t make those of us (make and female) who either chose not to or didn’t have an opportunity to kiss in high school feel that we were overly sheltered, to be pitied poor souls.

  8. hawkgrrrl says:

    Seth R – actually I agree with you that Mormons are less likely to self-medicate and more likely to seek professional help and get medication which drives up the number on prescription mood enhancers. That’s not really revealed in studies, but it’s an inherent bias in the data. Correlation doesn’t equal causation.

    JL Snow – the comment section is your option 4. The world is your oyster. However, you lost me at red is a warm shade of green. Are you having a stroke? How many fingers am I holding up? Namaste.

  9. +1 to post #5

  10. The anti-depressant thing drives me nuts. Utah also has high rates of use of antirheumatics and antibiotics. Does being a Mormon give you arthritis? sinus infections? Or perhaps Utah residents are likely to have health insurance and consult doctors?

  11. Fair enough Hawkgrrrl, enough said then.

    On the issue of helicopter parenting, I think my wife is one of the least helicopter parents I know. I hover a lot more than she does, and I’m the dad.

    We’re the type of parents who see our four year old kid trip across the playground and get painful but minor injury from and start screaming – and just call out to them to “come over here”, don’t leave the park bench we were sitting at, and continue chatting with the other parents until the kid comes over on his own (often getting some rather weird stares from the other parents). When the kid comes over still bawling, we make an examination of the injury to see if it needs anything, brief hug and a kiss, but we don’t do anything else about it. And if the kid wants to be a twerp and sit on my wife’s lap carrying-on, he’s likely to get an uncaring remark on how messy his face is, and get a rough cleaning from a wet wipe from the purse.

    You don’t get rewards for fussing in our family. We show lots of love other places, but not so much those times.

  12. Of course, potentially serious injuries, like falling off the top of the slide get the same reaction from us they get from any other good parent.

  13. JL, Jace, play nice or don’t play at all.

    There’s no question that parental involvement has shifted dramatically over time. I remember riding around without a car seat, or walking miles to elementary school, or having a scout pocketknife at age 6. I don’t think my parents were irresponsible.

    I remember reading recently about a NYC mom who took some crap for letting her kid ride the subway alone. Can’t bother to google it but it struck me that parental choices that were commonplace even 10-20 years ago are now unthinkable.

    Does the same apply to an ecclesiastical setting? Yes though the comparison will break down at some point of course. The Church has been laissez-faire for most of its life, then with internationalization and a desire for consistency comes Correlation and everything gets centrally done. Is it a helicopter church that centralizes funds for constructing chapels and in return homogenizes their design? Is it a helicopter church that standardizes garments? It’s a characterization that I think can be justified to a degree but I am not sure where it gets us. We don’t call people helicopter parents if we mean to compliment them. In the case of the Church, it’s a mixed bag for sure but I think it has chosen the better course.

  14. hawkgrrrl says:

    When it comes to the church, I suspect that there are leaders of both stripes. We essentially have “open mike” day at church once a month during F&T meeting. That’s fairly trusting. We ask our 13 year olds to speak to the congregation. Also trusting. But there are other forces at work, too – FSOY for adults is pretty silly, as are the BYU rules. Perhaps it’s just individual leader preferences pulling in different directions.

  15. I didn’t have any non-member friends at 18. It’s not that I never had had non-member friends–at the age of 5 my parents moved us to Switzerland for two years and stuck us in the public German-speaking school (I didn’t speak German and no one my age at that school spoke English). So during that time period my best friends were non-members (and none of them were American). But then we moved back to the Mormon Corridor, and my high school class was at least 90% LDS. As chance would have it, all of my friends there were LDS. That didn’t exactly change at BYU (although grad school was another matter).

    Certainly parents who prohibit or discourage their children from having non-member friends (or from kissing before they’re 20) are helicopter parents. But just because a teen is socially awkward or lives in an area without many non-members doesn’t mean he or she has helicopter parents.

  16. Rodney Ross says:

    I have several problems with this blog article. First, I feel if a blog is going to be put in public that the person’s real name should be used. Second, the criticism of tithing settlement and temple recommend interviews is inappropriate. Rather than reporting to an authority figure, I always viewed these opportunities as a moment of self-reflection and evaluation. I always look forward to them even when I have to repent. The real evaluation is between me and the Lord.

    I also disagree with Nancy Ross (no relation) who says the church does not encourage independent thinking. There are a myriad of books, articles and discussions at church that are open to a number of different ideas. The mere action of having members speak in sacrament meeting gives rise to independent discourse. We do not have a lone minister giving a sermon each Sunday. We are open to a variety of views. Members are encouraged to question. Of course, if we begin to teach against the core doctrines we may find ourselves having a problem. That would be true in any organization.

    All that being said, I enjoyed many of the ideas in the article. And as for teens never having kissed any one-I’m not touching that one! Given differences of opinion, my best wishes to hawkgrrrl (whoever she is), Nancy Ross and the other commenters.

  17. Rodney, first, if you look on the sidebar you’ll see her name, so there goes that concern.

    Second, “inappropriate” is a poor choice of words. How about “I disagree”?

  18. I feel like Steve Evans is being a little helicoptery, policing the comment section and all.

  19. Capozaino says:

    “Perhaps it’s just individual leader preferences pulling in different directions.”

    I think this accurately describes one side of the coin. The other side is going to be how much we voluntarily expose ourselves to certain leaders’ views (is “Mormon Doctrine Ed. 1″ on your bookshelf and do you watch every video put out by BYU or is your bookshelf populated by books like “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and you’re too busy watching “Parks & Rec”) and how much weight we accord them (is each word going straight from God’s brain to the speaker’s mouth or is the speaker seeing through a glass darkly and expressing his or her opinion, however well founded, for your consideration). Maybe a part of that side will also be what the particularly vocal people in your congregation and your local leaders are like.

  20. Kudos, Angela. I’m not a helicopter parent- actually, I might be more of a backlash parent against helicopter parents, since I know so many of them. I have a very hard time with parents who micro-manage all of their children’s time, leave them no unstructured time for play, or imagination, or for just staring at the clouds and figuring out how to deal with ‘boredom’, such as it is.

    To a certain extent, I do see this tendency to micro-manage in the church. As an adult-convert, some (many? most?) of the things in the church are not second nature to me, and are not practiced by most (any?) of my extended family. When we move outside the church-bubble, some of the stuff we do can and does seem pretty weird. In my experience (broad swath generalizations here) many Mormons don’t have that much experience in personal relationships with non-members. Even having a non-member friend (outside of a co-worker) is really often more like saying “some of my best friends are…” There’s not a lot of substance to it. Granted, I joined the church in the Mormon corridor, and now that I don’t live there anymore, this is less common. But that’s what I came to know as a new member.

    Ten years in, and I still resent having to discuss my undies with two strange men. I dislike the counsel to not teach from outside sources, and I am uncomfortable with the notion that premise upholds, correctly or not, to be suspect of outside sources. I do ascribe that suspicion to culture more than to deep gospel principles, but nonetheless, I have to live with it. But, like Steve pointed out, it’s a double-edged sword, and for the most part, I think we’ve chosen the better part. Most of the time.

  21. Rodney Ross, although prompting such self-reflection is a good thing (I doubt anyone would dispute that) it is not hard to see that such interviews are about more than just self-reflection. This is because our answers to particular questions asked in those meetings have consequences for our religious practice, consequences which are enacted by an authority figure. This is not to say that they are wrong but merely that authority plays a role. For example, it would be possible to conduct a TR interview with a single question: “Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord’s house and participate in Temple ordinances?” That the church chooses to include many other questions could be interpreted as an attempt to oversee behaviour and beliefs.

  22. it's a series of tubes says:

    That the church chooses to include many other questions could be interpreted as an attempt to oversee behaviour and beliefs.

    It could also be interpreted, with respect to nearly all of the TR questions, as simply being direct with what the Lord (not the church) has established WRT what constitutes being “worthy”.

  23. tubes, it is possible that some of the questions included in the past and also how those questions were asked (i.e., the criteria implicit behind them) are not always a precise reflection of God’s standards of worthiness.

  24. Rodney Ross says:

    Aaron, I agree authority plays a role, but I do not look at my bishop as lording over me. I still fell it is me and The Lord. The bishop is a mere conduit. Do some bishops exercise more dominion than others? Of course, but I still feel it is my frame of mind that matters. I’ve sat on both side of the table and as bishop knew I was being lied to on a few rare occasions. I never confronted that, feeling the member was answering to The Lord not me.

    Thanks for pointing out Angela’s name. I’d still her last name, but I’m old fashioned.

    Steve, if I feel it is inappropriate, that’s my opinion. I’m certainly not here to condemn Angela or any one else. Generall I liked her article. I enjoy the diversity of opinions and the exchanges. They make me think. That’s a great complement to all involved.

  25. I think Steve was just referring to the fact that the way we use the word “inappropriate” in Mormon culture has more or less deprived it of any specific meaning or substance. So he was prompting you to be more descriptive so that readers can get a sense of what you actually meant.

  26. Steve, you mentioned the change over time in helicopter parenting:

    There’s no question that parental involvement has shifted dramatically over time. I remember riding around without a car seat, or walking miles to elementary school, or having a scout pocketknife at age 6. I don’t think my parents were irresponsible.

    My two-year-old’s current favorite book is The Snowy Day, which was first published in 1961 I think. It’s jarring to read about this little boy–no older than six I would guess–going out to play in the snow by himself for hours on end. As a parent, I wouldn’t allow my kids to do that at that age, and I don’t think I’m unusual for the time. And there’s no signal that this book was unusual for its time. Just a change, I guess. I would think it’s probably related to declining family size: when you have fewer kids, it’s easier to monitor them more closely.

  27. Just because our parents did it and we turned out alright is no reason to perpetuate that. We’re supposed to help our children become better…

  28. ” when you have fewer kids, it’s easier to monitor them more closely.”: Yep. I notice family members with more kids monitor them less closely. Not always a good thing.

  29. “I still fell it is me and The Lord. The bishop is a mere conduit. Do some bishops exercise more dominion than others? Of course, but I still feel it is my frame of mind that matters.”

    As long as the bishop has to sign it, you are at his mercy, no matter your frame of mind.

  30. heathermommy says:

    i don’t see the requirement that men team teach children as helicopterish. I see that as wise and I am so glad that the church implemented that policy.

  31. “I notice family members with more kids monitor them less closely. Not always a good thing.”

    Nor always a bad thing. Relatively few things are always good or bad, ime – and “helicoptering” (in any setting) tends to miss that point.

    Parenting (individually and institutionally) is hard, and it requires establishing guidelines and working from some kind of base paradigm. I see the helicopter version, fundamentally, as based upon a paradigm of fear -which, again, is not always a bad or inaccurate thing. It’s when any approach (helicoptering or hands-off) is taken to the extreme that the real issues arise. All other non-extreme approaches are combinations of the two opposite poles, and finding the non-extreme paradigm that works at the individual and organizational level is difficult, especially when members of the group don’t agree on what the proper balance is – and even more so when the group includes members who land everywhere on the spectrum from one extreme to the other.

    I have a hard enough time figuring out a good balance for myself, much less for my children – and much, much less as the organizational numbers grow.

    The LDS Church certainly has elements of helicoptering in it – and some of them are closer to the extreme than to the dead center. I would love to see those things moderated toward the center, but that reflects my paradigm and not necessarily those of other members. There are other areas where I love the freedom I have in the Church, even when those areas drive some members nuts who want more security and peace of mind.

    As a good friend said once about charges of cult-like behavior, I try to recognize institutional examples of unhealthy helicoptering and ask:

    “Lord, is it I?”

    All too often, it is.

  32. Ugh, as a non-helicopter granddad, I babysat for my 2.5 year old grandson. I thought that swinging would be fun, and since he is a bright kid, I thought he could hold on. I was mostly right, except he got tired of holding on and crashed in the wood chip soft landing zone. He bawled a lot! (Not enough education.) I figured it was a learning experience for the kid, but the parents were not impressed. I almost got banned from babysitting.

    I figure “teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves” is where both parenting and Church leadership should be grounded. Correlation be darned.

    There is a price to be paid for every action. The self-governing principle lets some nutjobs get into leadership positions with some unpredictable results (like falling off swings). This is the cost of self-government. Top down helicoptering may be secure for the leadership because it is predictable but it shuts down growth and innovation.

  33. Well, I didn’t grow up in UT. Although, I did grow up Mormon. But, my parents basically told me to move out as soon as I was 18. I did, supported myself from that point on by waiting tables. Screwed up along the way. Went on a mission, and am now trying to figure out how to raise kids of my own. I’m not sure if my parents were helicopter parents, because in some areas we were expected to take care of ourselves, but we were very much under their control, too. But I worry sometimes that I might be becoming one. To me, it isn’t so much about the religion as it is about control issues in general. I don’t worry about them living up to some unspoken mormon culture ideal (although I do expect them to live the standards of the church) but so much of just trying to let go. But, then again, my kids are very young and I have a lot of learning to do along the way. I have suffered from depression and anxiety in my life, but feel like I’ve been a very independent person from a very young age.

  34. My parents were on the opposite spectrum–they were Black Hawk Down parents. We raised ourselves with very little input/emotional support from them. I don’t regret it because I think it made all 6 of us as independent as we are today. This model isn’t really conducive to family closeness though. As far as The Church goes I think the old adage plays out here that so much depends on local leadership and whether or not you have a Helicopter Bishop.

  35. Well, alls I got to say is once they get married rise up and helicopter away.

  36. Lord, make me a helicopter parent, but not yet.

  37. When I was 4 and lonely, I told my mother I was going to find some friends and walked 1/4 mile down the street and found some. I wandered miles as a kid under 6. Not now. This was suburban NJ. I grew up kissing girls and, for the age, had a fairly normal sex life. I had mostly friends of different religions. I remember, as a 6 or 7 year old going to the corner store on a busy street about a mile away. I am most grateful for the freedom to grow up by myself since my mother was mostly neurotic. What do kid do with neurotic helicopter parents?

  38. RW I think they grow up and murder them.

  39. hawkgrrrl says:

    If you look at the regulations for oversight in the church and TR interviews, etc., from an outside perspective, they look differently than they do from the inside. On the TR recommend question, I have a good friend who was a former bishop who said he would withhold someone’s recommend if he just “felt” strongly that he should. You tell me what that is. I don’t love sitting across from a guy who is my neighbor while he reads a statement written by 80 year old men about how I wear my underwear. Generally speaking, though, I don’t mind the TR interview or the process of declaring. I think it could be done on line possibly. To me the declaration is the important part.

    The link between smaller family size and the rise of helicopter parenting is spot on. The world’s worst helicopter parents (at least in terms of pushiness with their kids) are the Tiger Moms, and that rose in the wake of a one-child policy. My parents’ benign neglect model was likely a byproduct of having seven kids and being worn out. CNN’s non-stop coverage of every Amber alert probably doesn’t help ease the paranoia either.

  40. The worst part about being a helicopter parent is giving birth to the propeller. After that, the rest is easy.

  41. it's a series of tubes says:

    it is possible that some of the questions included in the past and also how those questions were asked (i.e., the criteria implicit behind them) are not always a precise reflection of God’s standards of worthiness.

    Aaron, I agree. That’s why I was careful to say “nearly all”.

  42. “I don’t mind the TR interview or the process of declaring. I think it could be done on line possibly.”

    I disagree. True, when you set up a temple recommend interview, you already know how you would answer questions and know whether you are worthy of that recommend. However, It’s one thing to click a box, it’s another thing to set up an appointment to have a person who is supposed to be acting as the Lord’s representative asking you these questions and for you to look in his face and answer them, then sign the recommend in his presence. There’s a different type of self-reflection when you realize you will be giving those answers personally to a human being.

  43. I’ve recently realized how much the church interferes in our lives. That’s not the right way to put it. I was thinking about the guilt I felt at considering taking down that framed Proclamation on the Family. SOME church members interpret being a Mormon to be total conformity to a way of life, not obedience to the precepts of Christ. It’s true that devoted members would embrace a Christ-like way of life, but that’s irrelevant to how we decorate our houses. Or spend our Sundays. Or eat, dress, talk……you name it. I have a theory that our church is evolving the way Judaism and Catholicism (and maybe Islam, but I don’t know much about that) has developed. We’re years behind them. They already had the rebels and the in-fighting and those who came to realize (like me) that so much of what we think is important is crap. So they make jokes on TV about Jewish mothers and guilt and they shrug off their arguments about doctrine and policy. They go on with their lives. I also theorize about the huge sociological implications of each religion; for me, it’s also about living in Utah, where the church impacts every area of our lives. I chafe under the pressure, feel smothered, but I go on with my life.

    One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I passed this attitude on to my kids when they were little and I was trying to raise them in righteousness. We do so much damage trying to be “good” Mormons.

  44. #40 LOL & ouch!

    My neighbor is an executive in a company where he told me he underwent several days of training on how to teach his managers to deal with helicopter parents in the workplace. They are showing up with their adult children at job interviews, asking to come in during the interview, calling every hour to see if their child got the job, etc. (I saw an episode of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ where Marie did that to Robert but I couldn’t believe that this is going on in real life.) I told my neighbor that in this economy they should hire these kids because then they are getting two employees for the price of one. He said it’s definitely a red flag but they have to be firm and call security to escort the parent into a waiting area until the interview is over.

    I would say having a special needs child has forced me to be more of a helicopter parent than I would like to be. Until she masters self-advocacy, it is like sending a helpless lamb to the wolves. We’re working with her, but her progress is slow-going. She longs to be independent but grasping the tools to become so is difficult and at times seems impossible. Because of her, I empathize with these parents. I’m trying to become a submarine parent, stealthily moving through the waters, undetectable, but with my radar deployed.

  45. “for me, it’s also about living in Utah, where the church impacts every area of our lives.”

    I would submit that 43 is MOSTLY about living in Utah. My wife and I are what any Mormon would call middle of the road, look like Mormon, act like Mormon people. And it’s not just surface deep. We grew up in Utah, moved away for 5 years, moved back (unintentionally) for a while and have lived in the Southeast for the last five years, and we will never move away. We STILL outwardly (and inwardly) fit comfortably into the Mormon mold, and yet we still chafed at some of the somewhat arbitrary cultural norms in Utah.

    It’s not that there’s necessarily something wrong with all the norms,.It’s the fact that they are EXPECTATIONS, that they are any kind of measuring stick at all. Some are annoying even if you are “conforming” by choice, as we are. It’s actually pretty cool to be in an area where it’s easy to find a lot of people who share the same VALUES but are less concerned about the arbitrary social markers of those values.

  46. AMEN to #43 and thank you everyone for your comments. You give me so much to consider and are quite often able to express my feelings much better then I can with your words.

  47. I think that while the article raises some interesting points, some of the bullet points were either misguided or just plain wrong. Not having kissed anyone as a teenager is hardly a sign of having been helicopter-parented. My sister and I grew up in the same non-helicopter household: she was popular, went on dates and had boyfriends and all the jazz. I didn’t kiss someone for the first time until I was 22 and went to grad school in a different country. It happens.

  48. hawkgrrrl says:

    Anselma, fair point and well taken. Even Drew Barrymore made it to 26 in that movie. Bear in mind, a substantial quantity of teen kissing merits a pass anyway.

  49. Great post! Yes, the church is helicopter parent-ish. No doubt. Nice comparison. Great comments.

    My youngest is 24, the oldest is 30. At this point it doesn’t really matter what sort of parent I was, but for the sake of discussion, no, I was not a helicopter parent. I was a hard-working, overwhelmed, single mom who had a few hard, fast rules and lots of love to deal with minor consequences of inherent benign neglect* This seems to have worked well for our family. With due credit to the awesome individuals who allowed me to mother them — All my children are in happy, apparently healthy marriages. They are college graduates (one an almost-graduate), returned missionaries and all are home-owners. Some were teen-age kissers, others were not. (I’m kidding. They were all kissers.) I raised them in Utah County, so they were clearly in the heart of LDS helicopter-ism. They all seem to view the church, its doctrine, and culture with an open heart and discerning mind. I take credit for this.

    *No animals were harmed or antidepressants/alcoholic beverages used in the rearing of these children.

  50. Meldrum the Less says:

    I would like to suggest that we do something about this problem besides blog about it.

    When my now college age children were pre-schoolers I became painfully aware that I was completely incompetent as a parent. I also realized that the LDS curriculum was not enough for me. Sure, if you don’t get drunk all the time and have affairs you might actually be in the parenting game and not ejected out on the street paying alimony and child support. Same with many of the basic LDS expectations, they are a step in the right direction. But not enough.

    I started reading parenting books and was not pleased with most of them. Eventually I found a couple that seemed to be right on base for me. (Positive Discipline and Teaching Self-Reliance in a Self-Indulgent World, but this is not a book advertisement. You need to do your own searching and find the books best for you).

    I next organized a Sunday night book club of about 4 or 5 families with children about my age at my house. I cooked Dutch oven dinners (money well spent) and we discussed the books a chapter at a time, often late into the night.

    All of these friends moved away. I tried unsuccessfully a few times to get some sort of parenting classes going on a ward level. I experienced quite a bit of conflict with other parents in my ward who did not understand or consent to the apparent madness that they saw in the non-traditional way we raised our children. But I can honestly say that my kids both experienced no major set-backs and exceeded my expectations in almost every way. When they were 5 years old I could not have made up a fictional story of how much they would succeed that exceeded the reality of their youthful years. I attribute my success as an obviously incompetent parent to my wife and I being on the same page when it came to the principles taught in these books, bolstered by top-notch non-LDS boy scouting in the case of my son.

    I would suggest that those of you with smallish children especially chart a course parallel to mine. The helicopter parent is only one of several common parenting pitfalls into which you may fall, with the best intentions I might add. An enormous amount of good solid information exists about the best approaches to parenting and it all isn’t in the Bible, Book of Mormon and D&C.

    PS. I kissed a girl for the first time in Japan on my mission, does that count?

  51. Hawk: I like your post. A few comments:

    1) I don’t really care about what name people use. I comment and write as “Mike S”, not that I really care if people know my name, but because I am a doctor. Every day I have patients who tell me that they “Googled” me prior to the visit. I don’t necessarily want their first impressions about me to be based on ramblings on religious issues. Hawk has a professional career as well. I don’t know if it’s the reason she uses a different name, but if I were here, I would do as she’s doing.

    And ultimately, does it really matter? An idea should be able to stand or fall on its own merit, and not necessarily on the “name” or “title” or “position in hierarchy” of who is expressing the thought. You agree with the post, disagree, agree with parts, or simply ignore it. Anyone is free to express any of these opinions using any name they want too. If your comments are good – people will listen. If they are bad – people will ignore you.

    2) As pointed out above – Utah has one of the highest rates of anti-depressant uses in the country – but correlation does not equal causation. Is it better healthcare? Or any of the ideas presented above? Perhaps. But we DO have the highest rate of “non-prescription use of prescription drugs” in the country. This is people using narcotics or anxiety drugs or whatever, without actually having a personal prescription for them. I see a number of LDS patients who literally take the equivalent of 60 Percocet a day, multiple anti-anxiety and other medications, yet who wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a glass of wine because it was “bad for them”. Hmmm. We chose different ways to deal with life’s difficulties than non-LDS folks, but we do it just the same.

    3) The Church, for better or for worse, is much more of a helicopter religion than many others. Just in things like grooming – there are formal and informal guidelines for color of shirts, length of hair, presence of facial hair, numbers of earrings, acceptance of tattoos, allowance of 5-year-old girls to wear sun dresses, length of shorts (even in unendowed), etc. And the list goes on.

  52. Mike S for best comment.

    I exclusively use a pseudonym on the internet. My reasons are my own, but part of it is the Googling issue. My thoughts are no less genuine or credible because of it and I don’t expect that is the case with anyone else.

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