Hyper-parenting is a style of child rearing that has evolved from the belief that parents have the power and the obligation to create a perfect life for their child, and in turn, the child will be guaranteed to be successful in adulthood. Hyper-parents, also known as helicopter parents, have become so used to directing their children’s lives that they neglect to make the appropriate separation that is necessary for a teen to feel autonomous and competent in college. An extreme example is that of a University of Cincinnati senior who won a restraining order against her parents for stalking. The dean’s list student, Aubrey Ireland, wanted the opportunity to be independent and for her parents to stop monitoring her cell phone and computer.
The belief that hyper-parenting does more harm than good is supported by a recent study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies. Researcher Holly Schiffren from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia found students with over-controlling parents were more likely to be depressed and less satisfied with their lives, while the number of hyper-parents was increasing with economic fears fuelling concerns about youngsters’ chances of success. “To find parents so closely involved with their college lives, contacting their tutors and running their schedules, is something new and on the increase. It does not allow independence and the chance to learn from mistakes,” Schiffrin said. Schiffrin acknowledged that the increase in technology has changed parents involvement in their teens lives as the once a week phone call home has been replaced with regular texting, emails and messaging.
To counteract hyper-parenting, many colleges and universities are offering parent orientation days parallel to events for students to help encourage parents to give their children more freedom. To become independent young adults that all parents want their children to be, the students must be allowed to make their own decisions, take risks, even fail, and learn for themselves.