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Books About Helicopter Parents

by Susan Sherwood, studioD

Parents want to be involved and influential in their children's lives, but helicopter parents take this too far. The term first appeared in Foster Cline and Jim Fay’s 1990 book “Parenting With Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility.” Helicopter parents try to control everything: friendships, education, activities and interests. Some of these parents do not let up; they are still hovering when their kids go to college. Whether you want to understand this phenomenon or change your behavior, many books about helicopter parents are available.

Personal Stories

In "Momaholic: Confessions of a Helicopter Parent," author Dena Higley humorously describes the ineffective way she dealt with her family's challenges, including two adopted children, a son with autism and her daughter’s unplanned pregnancy. As a writer with a busy and stressful job in television, Higley also dealt with a perfectionist husband who became increasingly frustrated by the chaos. Finally, she recognized the control she tried to exert was not helping anyone. By trying to fix all her children's problems, Higley discovered she was making matters worse.


In his humorous advice book “Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants,” Jim Fay describes some problematic parenting styles and then offers guidance. Readers first identify their parenting style: helicopter, sergeant or a combination. Fay discusses the effects of these styles and what children learn from them. He coaches parents to become “consultants” who encourage their kids to make choices and be responsible. Consultants also see the value in allowing children to make mistakes in order to learn from them.

Academic Views

"Parenting Out of Control: Anxious Parents in Uncertain Times" by Margaret K. Nelson looks at the issue of helicopter parents from a sociological point of view. Through interviews, Nelson concluded that helicopter parents are overwhelmingly highly educated and financially well off. Their obsessive involvement with their children’s lives is an attempt to help their kids maintain their status. Julian Parrott takes a different approach in "Academic Advisors and Helicopter Parents." For this case study, the author interviewed college advisors and collected stories of their interactions with extremely involved parents. The advisors observe how excessive parental engagement intrudes upon the advisor’s role as mentor by trying to control the advisory process. Young people's development is limited, because their parents are the decision makers.


"The Helicopter Parents Guide to Surviving Senior Year" by Yvette Sams puts a positive spin on very involved parents. Specifically, it shows parents how to guide their children through the college selection process, including completing applications, finding scholarships, meeting deadlines and visiting campuses. The step-by-step directions begin with the conclusion of the junior year and describe what seniors should accomplish each month. This book is especially useful for parents unfamiliar with the procedures because they have not attended college themselves.


About the Author

Living in upstate New York, Susan Sherwood is a researcher who has been writing within educational settings for more than 10 years. She has co-authored papers for Horizons Research, Inc. and the Capital Region Science Education Partnership. Sherwood has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University at Albany.

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