They're called "helicopter parents" -- a term coined by college admissions personnel when they began noticing an influx of students with parents who continually intervened in the educational process. After completing a study of college freshmen, researchers found that students with helicopter parents tended to be less open to new ideas, more vulnerable and anxious, as well as more self-conscious than their more independent peers.
Even though this research involved college-aged kids, parenting style is established well before kids leave for college. So how do you prevent yourself from becoming a helicopter parent? How do stay involved in your tween's schooling without hovering?
Here's what you should do:
- Attend school functions. Volunteer for committees or to be a chaperone a few times a year.
- Solicit teacher feedback on your child's progress, and share your opinions on how he or she is doing.
- Be involved when your tween selects extracurricular activities -- share her or his interests.
- Find out what sort of resources the school offers, such as homework assistance or tutors, in case your child needs extra help.
- Allow your tween to suffer the consequences if, for example, he or she forgets to do an assignment.
And, here's what you shouldn't do:
- Don't move to the background once your child enters junior high. Stay involved, but don't feel you have to walk your tween right to the front door of the school.
- Don't dispute grades or mediate arguments on behalf of your child. Talk to your tween, instead, and offer potential solutions.
- Respect teachers' schedules. Don't show up unannounced or call during off-hours.
And what about staying involved in your tween's personal life? Read more about that on the next page.