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  • Bethany Smeltzer

Parents, Land Your Helicopters Before It's Too Late



I'm reading an article about the notorious "helicopter parent" and how it affects children growing up as well as while they're in #college. Yeah, please don't follow your kid to college (#disabilities are an exception).


Thinking back on my experience in college, I was trying to remember if anyone I knew in college had a #helicopterparent. I certainly didn't, pretty sure my parents left as soon as my stuff was put in my room. It was a, "You good? Good! Bye!" And they were gone. Granted, they only lived about 30 minutes away, so it wasn't the end of the world or a goodbye for months.


But still, I don't think I know anyone from college that had a parent try to stay. I do know some that stayed a few days but it was moreso because they were visiting Orange County, CA. They wanted to go be tourists.


However, as I thought back on it, my mom was a bit of a helicopter mom when I was in elementary school. I don't know what caused her to act this way or to give me "extra help" on my homework and projects but luckily it only lasted for a short term.


Where was the shift?

I remember working on this huge project in #elementary school about animals. We each had to choose an animal and then write a paper and create a poster about that animal. My mom wanted me to choose an animal from Africa because we had been there and had tons of photos to pick from. It would have been easier. Plus we knew things about those animals: rhinos, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes (the different kinds), etc. See, I just named a few off the top of my head and we have photos of all of these.


But did I pick one of these? Nope, of course not. I picked a black panther that is (was?) almost extinct in South America. We knew nothing about this big cat. We also didn't have Google to look anything up.


So the day before it was all due, I told my mom what I decided and that I had to go the the #library. Off we went to make a million photo copies of every book we could find on this animal.



When we got home, I didn't want to read or write so of course I worked on the poster. I carefully cut out every single photo and began staging them. My mom asked about the paper around 8 pm at night and if I had typed it up yet.


Of course the answer was no.


Why would I want to write a paper in the 3rd or 4th grade when I can work on an art project? She told me I had to start reading about this panther and then start writing the paper. My mom had me sit at the #computer and type up what I learned in my #research.


I was typing about one word per minute and then got kicked off the computer. I was told to go handwrite my paper; it was probably around 9 pm at this point. I finished writing my paper and walked back to the computer to type it up. However, my mom told me to go to bed and that she was going to type it up.


I woke-up the next morning early so that I could tape, because the glue wouldn't dry in time, my amazing pictures to my poster board. Oh, did I mention that I had to write, type and tape my descriptions of each picture.






"Oh yeah, mom, I need descriptions. Can you type those up really quickly too before we leave for school? You already typed everything else."




I tell this story because this is the only time that my mom intervened on one of my assignments. Actually, it's the only time that either parent really intervened at all. They raised my siblings and I to take care of our own coursework and classes.


What caused the shift?


Only my mom can actually answer this question (maybe she will on the Facebook page *hint hint* mom!) but maybe it had to do with having three older siblings or she saw that I wasn't learning or thriving by her being too involved in the process.


I personally think part of it had to do with the fact that at the end of the project she asked me what I learned at the end of it all, and I couldn't remember a thing. I didn't know anything from my paper that I had worked on. I think part of that was because I wasn't very involved in the process.


So thanks Mom for not continuing to be a helicopter parent and letting me fail and succeed on my own.