A Quiz for “Helicopter” Parents

By Kevin Bushweller — March 09, 2007 1 min read
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Thanks to the PEN Weekly NewsBlast for pointing us to a part of the College Board’s Web site that asks the question: Are you a helicopter parent?

The College Board then offers up an interactive quiz to evaluate if you fall into this category of parenting. The quiz is geared toward parents of high school students who are looking at colleges, so I’ll have to wait a few more years before I can take it. But if your children are juniors or seniors in high school, you should take the quiz--even if it might tell you something about yourself you might not want to know. (Educators might have fun pretending they are a certain type of parent and then taking the quiz. You all know these types of parents, right?)

This issue of helicopter parents--those adults who are hyper-involved in virtually everything their children do--has been getting quite a bit of play in the media over the past year or so. A commentary in Sunday’s Washington Post, “Helicopter Parenting: Spiraling Out of Control,” presented a particularly interesting, and humorous, perspective on this issue.

I, for one, believe this type of parenting can have a negative effect on student motivation in the long run. It prevents students from learning how to take initiative, protects them too much from learning lessons from failures, and leads to insanely overscheduled lives for kids and parents.

That’s why I found it a bit amusing that on the College Board’s “helicopter parenting” page, there is a link to an article titled “Motivating the Unmotivated Student.” Maybe it’s just me, but I think so-called helicopter parents are likely to walk away with the wrong message from that article even if it offers some thoughtful suggestions.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.