Helicopter parents handicapping their children for life

Yesterday on talk radio, a host was discussing the concept of "helicopter parents"... Those parents who are so involved in their young adult children's lives that they literally hover over them. Apparently this is nothing new, although I hadn't heard of it before and was intrigued.

I'd heard stories about parents calling college professors to complain about grades (They better be glad they didn't do that to me when I was teaching undergraduate courses!). Some Contact companies on behalf of the child who just interviewed with them. One writer blamed the cell phone for this phenomenon, calling it the "world's longest umbilical cord."

This comes as no surprise to me, as I see younger generations refusing to grow up and accept responsibility. Refusing to all those "adult" things that are expected of them, like showing up to work on time, dressing like an adult, and being responsible about their finances. How many baby boomer parents do you know who have had to financially bail out one or more of their adult children?A caller to this radio show lamented about the tenants in the 300 rental units he manages near a large college campus. He says parents are calling him to report a leaky faucet in Johnny's apartment. The students are calling when they need a lightbulb changed. Rent payments are late because "my dad didn't put the money into my checking account yet."

Amazingly enough, this younger generation also has some of the most creative, ambitious, and entrepreneurial types we could have ever imagined. Can't we find a happy medium, in which the younger generation as a whole steps up to the plate and accepts responsibility as the young adults they are supposed to be? And if mom and dad don't let go soon, their child will never learn how to grow up and handle their problems on their own. Do your kids a favor and quit hovering. They'll thank you in the long run.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company
Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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