Helicopter parents and you

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by LineInTheSand, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,756
    Likes Received:
    1,004
    What do parents think of helicopter parents? Alumni, cadets and midshipmen have often mentioned helicopter parents, but as a parent, what have so seen?

    How much do you want to know? My mother and father checked in to make sure I was "happy" or "doing ok", offered supportive words, but that was really it. In fact, my mother wasn't 100% what my rank was, even after graduation.

    When do you stop focusing on an academy. There are a number of parents on SAF whose kids have long left a service academy.

    Do you stay around if your daughter or son is disenrolled? What it's in the first year, offering your opinion?
     
  2. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2010
    Messages:
    4,275
    Likes Received:
    607
    Not a parent, but a quick anecdote:

    My plebe year roommate (also roommate for one semester firstie year) was from CT. His mother was (and still is) the worst helicopter mom. She drove 2 hours each way every Sunday for four years to pick up his laundry and to drop off clean laundry and brownies & hot Chinese food.

    To this day I find him hard to respect as an officer, because I know what a coddled mama's boy he was during what was supposed to be a crucible-like experience.
     
  3. dadkone

    dadkone Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2009
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    0
    Big league helicopter parents

    Code:
    My plebe year roommate (also roommate for one semester firstie year) was from CT. His mother was (and still is) the worst helicopter mom. She drove 2 hours each way every Sunday for four years to pick up his laundry and to drop off clean laundry and brownies & hot Chinese food.
    [
    /FONT]

    I read that General Douglas MacArthur's mother resided at the Thayer Hotel the entire time he was a cadet at West Point -- If you must be a helicopter parent, might as well be the best
     
  4. parentalunit2

    parentalunit2 Parent

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    162
    The questions one reads on FB and the ‘other’ forums frighten me to no end and make me wonder what type of future we are in for as a nation.

    1. Parents constantly posting for rides for their cadets.
    2. Parents asking where cadets go to get a new pair of uniform pants.
    3. Little Johnny lost his W-2, how does he get a new one?
    4. Why are they forcing my cadet to sign up for TriCare?
    5. Does my precious son need to bring a pillow to Airborne training? (You know, for his precious little head.)

    And probably my personal all-time favorite…..a post in June that their recent USMA graduate had “no clue” what to do in order to move to their first post. Seriously? I mean, seriously? I find it highly unlikely that the army has not informed this newly minted 2LT of how to move household goods to their first post. $400K of my tax money was just spent on this individual’s collegiate education and this is the product I’m getting? People, I tell you, I am at times in fear.

    Now, I never know if the cadet requested parental assistance with some of these issues or if the parent themselves are just curious and posted a question. If the basis of some of these questions is true (coming from the cadet), it often appears that the cadet does not even truly understand that they are in the military. With all this parental involvement in their adult child’s lives, I definitely see a slight weakening within the corps. Back in the day (one phone for an entire company’s incoming calls constitutes “back in the day”) cadets relied on each other to figure out the best way to get to LGA, how to replace a lost W-2, how to obtain new uniform pieces, and who would room with whom once they got to OBC. These days it seems you just text your mom and she’ll ask the question on FB.
     
  5. rotorhd

    rotorhd Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    0
    Spot On

    Parentalunit2 - You are spot on.
     
  6. FlyingG

    FlyingG Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    So Right

    Why don't parents understand that all these issues are learning experiences for their son or daughter? It makes them a better person to figure things out and suffer some failure as they learn.
    There is a whole segment of our youth that have never learned to fail, come in last and/or be punished for not putting forth an effort.
    I sincerely hope our service academy's break this pattern.
    I think it is more the parent's fault than the youth.
     
  7. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Messages:
    4,628
    Likes Received:
    5
    And they're all out at the OWS infestations, crying out that the world owes them something, just because....it's not fair.

    It's been about 15 or so years since these "trophies for everyone" or "let's not keep score in soccer lest little Ian or Brittany loses self esteem" movements began, and now these kids are finding out that life is a competition, no one owes them anything, and social and/or economic inequality is a byproduct of effort and education.
     
  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    And you can definitely see the "Makings of" such parents on these forums. Little Johnny or Janie aren't posters, but their parent(s) are. And they post numerous questions about non-academy direct issues. e.g. laundry, taxes, food, etc... And I run into the same issue with candidates. Some, I've spoken MORE with a candidate's parents than with the candidate themselves.

    I understand a parent(s) wanting to make sure their child is taken care of. I understand that you want to pass on your experiences. Especially for a military parent who may have gone through it before themselves. I also understand that 16-17 year old individuals tend to procrastinate more and not be as involved. Sometimes they need someone keeping on them to get things done. But as many of you have stated, parents NEED to let their kids screw up and learn first hand.

    I joined my son on Monday at our local high schools for the "Grass Root" program. (I was there as the school's ALO, not as his father). During the Q&A with some Juniors, the thing that really impressed me that my son said to them, was that the biggest thing to get use to was that your parents weren't there to help you any longer. From DAY 1. You had to become responsible for your own actions. The parent that doesn't let their cadet/plebe do that, and instead does their laundry and brings them things, is doing their son/daughter a disservice. They will rationalize it, but they are really screwing up their kid.
     
  9. cadet15

    cadet15 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2011
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    1
    As a cadet, some of these posts make me nervous even. I know that I was unusual when I started the application process and I went through all of it. I filled it out entirely by myself and after I was done with the process, I told my parents what I did and what things meant because I didn't want to answer their questions at the time. If I ever had a question, I would ask my ALO. If we ever have questions now, we either ask our 3* coach, the person across the hall, or the CQ. I am very thankful that my parents gave me the space to fail while I was at home and figure out how to deal with it, instead of finding out here. There are certain answers parents will just not have and I have known that for a while, so it was not as much of a culture shock in that sense. With all of that being said, there are still things that I am caught off guard by and don't know what to do (medical stuff, finances, investments...). I have seen squadmates who are always on the phone with their parents complaining about something that they don't know how to do or a situation they don't know how to deal with and it hurts those people because they are always struggling to catch up. Like CC said, it hurts us in the long run. I think there is something to be said for allowing firsties to live off campus and learn some of those life management skills while they still have the support system of the Academy, instead of sheltering us for the 4 years and then throwing us out as officers who have always had certain things taken care of for us. Just my two cents.
     
  10. JMC0759

    JMC0759 S-USMMA '12 D-USAFA '15

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    275
    Likes Received:
    21
    My law enforcement agency answered a call for service this week from a college student who was trapped in her car. Her battery had failed and she couldn't get out because the automatic door locks would not work. She did not know that the little rod sticking out the top of the door panel would manually unlock the door...
     
  11. BR2011

    BR2011 USAFA Cadet

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    9
    I heard the sky is falling too....

    I never really knew anyone who depended on their parents. In fact, most of the time I was surprised when my parents would mention the names of craziest ones on the parents association list thing. Most of it is generated by the parents themselves and is probably started from a meaningless comment on how crappy the household goods move website is (which it really is) or something of that nature.

    Our generation is going to do fine. For all the kids that feel entitled to everything there are plenty shooting past them to the top.

    Also, moving Firsties out to learn life skills would take away the leadership of of the Corps/Brigade. Most Cadets/Mids can figure it out pretty quickly. There are plenty of people with much less intelligence and motivation who learn how to do the simple life skills like paying bills, cooking, etc.
     
  12. parentalunit2

    parentalunit2 Parent

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    162
    What is *really* scary are the questions from the parents of graduates. I won’t even go into detail, but let’s just sum it up with this scenario. Your child (officer) was deployed, was essentially the acting mayor of a town over in the sandbox, attempting to broker peace among the locals and keep water running in the town on a daily basis. But when their deployment ends, they need parental assistance because they are not capable of finding an apartment near Fort Hood?

    I always thought one of the neat-o things about the military is the near total built-in support system that it offers. Are these particular cadets and young grads just choosing not to rely on it?

    I really do find it interesting that the academies have parent liaison offices (called something different at each academy). They have definitely gone the way of civilian universities in this capacity. But the difference here is that parents don’t pay tuition; cadets/mids signed on the dotted line and raised their right hand all on their own. They are now military members for pete’s sake. I’m certain parents enjoy the level of information they receive from these offices, but the sense of entitlement and inclusion amazes me. What used to be cadet/mid only events are now viewed by many as parent events as well. Who wants Mom or Dad around when you are trying to sneak out of the dance with your date for a little ‘alone’ time? Parents asking if they can attend and video the cow commitment ceremony. Parents asking to be a part of the marchback. (Sorry, grads only. Long gray line thing and all.) Running behind your cadet’s Sandhurst team throughout the entire day. I believe the academy even ran buses to accommodate this phenomenon, so they are feeding into the frenzy. Do parents of enlisted soldiers expect the same level of access to things their children are participating in? Highly doubtful. There have definitely been changes.....it just goes along with the ‘civilianization’ of the academies.

    cadet15 – You (and your equally independent friends) are my hope for the future. Thank you for posting!
     
  13. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,963
    Likes Received:
    872
    And yet; 95% of the military is enlisted (Not sure of the exact percentage). Of that 95%, the majority are in the 17-18 year old range. They TOO have no parents there with them. They spend their 6 weeks of basic training, then they are off to tech school. There, they have certain class schedules; certain formation schedules; and certain other military duties and training. Other than that, they are 100% free to come and go, and get as stupid as they want to. This whole time, there are no parent's groups. No parent's weekends. I wonder.... Are there any forums and such for parents of junior enlisted personnel, and all that they go through.

    When it was time to move, someone said: "Here's your orders". They gave you a checklist. On that checklist was an appointment to get your plane tickets and have your belongings shipped. Unless you wanted to drive and carry your own stuff. (My first 3 years, I never needed TMO. I basically lived out of a duffel bag). Point is: Enlisted personnel are "Thrown to the wolves" at a much younger age, and without ANY parental involvement. (Most cases). The 2nd LT leaving the academy will do just fine. No, they don't need to live off campus to get accustomed to anything. Chances are, they will leave and go to further training. Grad school, UPT, specialized training, etc... Meaning; they are going to probably move a few times between TDYs and their permanent base. They'll get a lot of experience with renting an apartment (Which they'll probably share with a roommate), TMO shipping and LOSING some of their stuff. Airline tickets. etc... If the enlisted force can survive at 17-18 years old doing the same thing, I'm sure that an educated college grad, from one of the best universities in the world, commissioned in the United States Air Force, at 22-23 years of age,,, can do just as well.
     
  14. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,587
    Likes Received:
    0
    Excellent post, BR2011! Your generation is going to do just fine.

    Now, I sure hope Mom shows up on time to help me fold the laundry! :eek:
     
  15. MJOmom

    MJOmom Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2009
    Messages:
    224
    Likes Received:
    0
    As a parent of a current, and pretty darn independent Mid, I am hopeful for most of the current students. My mid doesn't communicate all the nuances of his life ... that's as it should be. I think a lot of the parent postings are a cry for information ... they don't want to let go, yet their son/daughter isn't telling them much of anything ... at least I hope that's what it is ...


    Our Second Class son just bought his own car ... pretty much start to finish. Asked for some advice, but did it on his own. Bought his own ticket home for xmas too ... steps, steps, steps toward independence.


    All that said, when the dealer tried to make him pay $150 for a second car key -- I did point out that he just paid them $18,000 ... and they darn well better provide a second key ... Helicopter? No ... advice for a novice ...yes ...
     
  16. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,217
    Likes Received:
    126
    I am always stunned to read the posts (parents' forums, FB, etc.) of parents who know every minute detail of their cadet's life, down to the tiniest crumb of information. I stopped reading a Yahoo parents group because I could no longer stomach the helicopter parents who were in near 24-hour contact with their cadets and were always on call to leap to action over the slightest need. Every whimper, whine, need or desire of the cadets of the helicopter parents is worried over or acted upon immediately, regardless of expense or rationality. My cadet is incredibly busy and I would never be so disrespectful of his time because I have some desperate need to still be the Mommy and run and fetch for him. Proud of him, and love and miss him, but I have confidence in his lifelong common sense and the Army's excellent training.

    The sweetest words to this mother's ears are, "I'll figure it out."

    I also like how MJOmom said it:
     
  17. cabarle

    cabarle Parent

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    27
    You hit the nail on the head. As a Blue & Gold officer, nothing grinds my gears more than a parent sending me an e-mail and then signing it as the candidate. Usually, the candidate sends a follow up e-mail apologizing for the parent's deception. It happens...a lot.
     
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    8,756
    Likes Received:
    1,004
    All good points. Some of us here applied with paper applications. I'm not 100% sure is SAF was around when I was going through the application process, but the general questions I had were directed at an admissions officer or an alum.

    I wasn't able to hop on a website and say "please read my essay" or "how do I match up." I think we cheat some applicants out of the full experience when we provide too many short-cuts for actual research.

    I'm very happy to talk about what it's like to be a cadet, or what it's like to be an officer, etc etc etc....

    but I won't proof-read a perfect stranger's essay, or answer the same question that's been asked a million times, just some someone feels comfortable with their low C's or bad class position.

    I got into CGA in late 2001. My acceptance was read by Mr. Nixon of the Coast Guard Auxiliary on May 20, 2002. I took my oath on July 1, 2002. I took that oath again on May 17, 2006, when I got my commission. I separated on June 30, 2011 with an honorable discharge.

    In that entire time, my parents made sure I was doing okay, by asking me how I was feeling and giving me a place to vent. If we talked about the Coast Guard, it's because I brought it up. Today, as a civilian, if the Coast Guard comes up, it's because I brought it up.

    I cannot imagine, first, my parents researching or knowing enough to dispense information about a process they were on the fringes of. I find it even harder to imagine my parents dispensing advice once I graduated. Heck, I can't remember half of the normal day-to-day stuff I did for four years at CGA. Selective memory? Maybe.

    I worked with a guy who was a cadet for two years, got kicked out (or left, you just never know when people talk about why they left). He now works for the Coast Guard as a civilian, after being away from the Coast Guard for about 15 years. Keep in mind, his entire CGA experience was as a 4/c and a 3/c. He constantly talks to commanders who were cadets when he was a cadet, referring to little stories here and there. Eventually I asked one "do you have any idea what he's talking about? I can remember parts of 1/c year, some of 2/c year, but 3/c year is in large part a blur and 4/c I remember goofy events, but can't connect them". Nope, the commander had no idea what he was talking about.

    And because that guy was a cadet in the mid-1990s, his short time as a cadet qualified him for "veteran status" including veteran preference.

    My cadet stories, in real life, come out around my classmates, and it's usually us joking about something or someone from way back. If I didn't graduate you can be sure I wouldn't blab on and on about it to the very people who know MANY who never graduated, AND know WHY they didn't graduate.

    There are SAF parents who's kids not only didn't graduate, but never made it out of the first year. I'm telling you, for their sake, just move on and open the next chapter of their lives. Don't visit a website that provides advice to kids hoping to make it through 4 years and a career if you can only speak (as a secondary source, no less) about what happened in PART of the first year.

    I wouldn't want my parents out there "helping" others....why? Because my parents would have NO IDEA what it's like to be a midshipman or a cadet. Why should they? They never were midshipmen or cadets.
     
  19. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,587
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think you guys are being too harsh. I have a different opinion on all this:

    1. Parents have every right to be active in their children's lives. In fact, at least in my view, that is commendable parental behavior. The real tragedy is that many parents are NOT active in their children's lives. Not all families have the same relationships as those who think it is best to ship the kids off to boarding school and let the kids fend for themselves. On the other extreme, some parents believe that it is best to home-school their children. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that either. Different strokes for different folks.

    I happen to be in the camp where I maintain a close relationship with my children and have all of my kids parked in public school. I am not ashamed of that and never will be (in fact, at times I border on neglectful, especially when a trial or big corporate transaction looms and I really don't have the bandwidth for them). I also believe that it would be inappropriate for me to presume to know what is best for someone else's child.

    2. I'm not sure why folks think being "independent" is a good thing. In the military, being "independent" is actually a bad thing, at least that was my experience (I may have had a different experience than others). Every year, many so-called "independent" 2LTs fall on their face because they think they are "independent" and thus do not listen to their senior NCO's, especially their platoon sergeant. Many believe that asking questions or relying on others is a sign of weakness (or perhaps a parent taught them that along the way). Sadly, those who do not rely on others often end up getting their soldiers lost in the woods, or worse, killed. Relying on your fellow comrade in arms is truly the essence of the military, and it is not an easy thing to do (if the leader thinks being "independent" is the best thing, how can she or he teach their soldiers that they need to place blind faith reliance on their fire-team buddies to cover their own assigned fields of fire?). The truth is that most 2LTs don't have a clue about what it really means to lead a platoon, even those who earned the distinction of Distinguished Military Graduate. But things do work out eventually. It always does. And just when the 2LT really learns his or her job, it's then time for them to be promoted to 1LT and off to bigger and better jobs that they, initially, don't have a clue in the world on how to handle. Maybe I was in a different Army than everyone else.

    There is a difference between being "independent" and being "self-sufficient", though. I happen to think everyone around here will do just fine and the sky will not fall. Except in the case of an orphan or abandoned child, I don't think there is a single parent on the Earth who hasn't helped their children (although I have encountered folks along the way who professed that they didn't, when what they really did was be more active at an earlier stage in the child's life than other so-called "helicopter" parents might have been). The fact that a parent does laundry for a college student is absolutely NO DIFFERENT than a Service Academy doing laundry for a cadet. I do not think that the service academies are producing incompetent leaders simply because they do laundry for the cadets. How is it any different when a parent takes on that task for them? It is simply teaching the kids how to delegate. When these kids have to assume the "driver's seat" in goverment and business later on, they will do just fine.

    3. LITS, I don't think there is anything wrong with a parent asking a lot of questions and learning a wealth of information from this website or elsewhere and then "paying it forward" and helping others. In my short time on this website, I have rarely seen a parent comment on something he or she did not know something about (sure, folks have different opinions about things, but that does NOT mean they are ignorant or otherwise unqualified to state their opinion -- no one should be condemned for their opinion just because it is different). Also, a parent learns a lot from having a kid who is a cadet at a Service Academy, even though the parent may not have graduated from the SA themselves.

    I'm not sure how I will feel about contributing to SAF five years from now, but I suspect that I might feel a bit guilty about soaking this site for information and not sharing what I have learned with others down the road.

    From my own experience as a parent learning about things here on SAF, I just know that I benefited GREATLY this past summer from the many posts from parents who have been willing to take time out of their busy schedules to lend advice on what New Cadets should bring for, say, R-Day at West Point (based on what they thought was helpful in the years when their own DD/DS attended R-Day). These generous parents are to be commended, not condemned.

    Some folks give back to society by serving as scout masters, little league coaches, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, volunteers at retirement homes, etc. There is positively nothing wrong with helping others. From my own experience, I attended Norwich University and know a LOT about that school. But I suspect strongly that there are aspects about Norwich that only a parent who has a child currently attending that school will know. For example, parents with current cadets likely know more than either me or the current PMS of Norwich about things that affect many matriculating cadets, including things like financial aid, academics, etc. And if someone generates a post containing incorrect information, others will be sure to correct the record. And we move on. So what's the harm?

    It's always easy to be negative and point fingers and criticize others for volunteering their time. It is also easy to chuckle when someone asks a simple question, which likely wasn't all that "simple" just a few short years ago. I just know that I am one grateful parent who is thankful for the many posts that I have found here on SAF. I suspect that I am not alone.

    In short, my personal, humble opinion is that there's nothing wrong with parents asking lots of questions and sharing what they know with others. In my experience, limited as it is, I have found that those who ask the most questions end up learning more than the others and, eventually, are the ones who provide the soundest advice. But that's just my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  20. easter2

    easter2 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2011
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0
    As a parent who has not attended any type of military academy, institution etc I find all the comments and questions enlightening...I do not consider myself a helicopter parent although I am sure I have asked a couple of questions that may give folks that impression. I am many states away from my DS and he is handling his end with more diligence that I thought he had in him :shake: Most times when I post a question it is more for my edification rather than my DS is lost and needs help from mommy :redface: I am sure once or twice I posted a question that may seem like I am hovering but it is more that he is asking me (for example, what type of little thing to get his Dyke for Xmas) and I haven't a clue. Other than that, he has handled all the paperwork, got his transcripts, his interview with alum, etc on his own--I didn't even get to see his application to his first (and only choice) VMI which he is currently attending.
    I hope someday I will be able to impart something relatively knowledgeble or at least supportive from what I see, etc...
     

Share This Page