“Helicopter parents”, higher education, and ambivalent adulthood
Bristow, J. 2020. “Helicopter parents”, higher education, and ambivalent adulthood. Revue des politiques sociales et familiales.
This article discusses a tension that is increasingly discussed in relation to higher education in the United States and the United Kingdom, regarding the level and nature of parents’ involvement in their adult children’s educational success and social development. The problem of the 'helicopter parent', who hovers over their older child's education and social life, is increasingly framed as a causal factor in young adults’ struggles to cope with the demands of a university environment in which they live away from home, and are expected to exercise a greater degree of independence, self-motivation, and personal responsibility in engaging with their studies than when they were at school. This discussion is extended to the struggles that the ‘Millennial generation’ allegedly experiences in managing the pressure of work and life after university.
A thematic exploration of the literature on the problem of the ‘helicopter parent’ finds that this narrative is fraught with contradictions, particularly in the extent to which parental behaviours, practices, and expectations can be isolated from the wider cultural and institutional dynamics that implicitly or explicitly discourage young adults from aspiring to independence and adulthood. As such, criticisms of ‘helicopter parents’ both express, and evade engaging with, a deeper sense of uncertainty about the socialisation of emerging adults.
|Keywords||Parenting culture; Higher education; Young people; Parents; Millenials; Families|
|Journal||Revue des politiques sociales et familiales|
|Publisher||Caisse Nationale des Allocations Familiales|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||06 Feb 2020|
|Accepted author manuscript|
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