New research has shown that the so-called helicopter (hyper-involved) parenting style is the route to children's success. Education experts and journalists spent the last decade criticizing "helicopter parents", alleging that such a method can backfire, producing a generation of stressed-out children unable to achieve alone. On their side, parents alternated between feeling guilty, anxious, or even ridiculed.
However, according to the book "Love, Money and Parenting: How Economics Explains the Way We Raise Our Kids", by the economists Matthias Doepke and Fabrizio Zilibotti, helicopter parenting can bring life-changing advantages. Done right, it seems to work for the richest countries in the world. The authors explain that in the 1970s, when inequality hit a low, there wasn't a big gap between what you can earn with or without a college degree. This is why strict parenting methods gave way to more permissive parenting methods, which means giving children more freedom with less oversight. But in the 1980s, inequality began to increase strongly in Western countries, in particular in the United States, leading to a broader gap between white- and blue-collar revenue. Thereby, helicopter parenting began to replace permissive parenting. Middle- and upper-class parents started elbowing their kids into fast-track preschools, monitoring their homework and chauffeuring them to additional activities.
When Doepke and Zilibotti analyzed the 2012 PISA test (Programme for International Student Assessment), they found that an "intensive parenting style" was related to better scores and that the most effective parents are rather "authoritative" than "authoritarian". They use reasoning to persuade their children to do things that are supposed to be beneficial. Instead of obedience, authoritative parents promote independence, adaptability and problem-solving skills. If all this is correct, the benefits of helicopter parenting may not be just academic. A British study revealed that children raised by authoritative parents reported both better health and higher self-esteem. A subject we have not finished talking about.
Picture: Helicopter Parenting (Wren McDonald / The New York Times)