Helicopter parenting and college-age depression/anxiety

Recent studies suggests that kids with overinvolved parents and rigidly structured childhoods suffer psychological blowback in college.

via Helicopter parenting is increasingly correlated with college-age depression and anxiety..

My take: I see huge implications on the immediate-future workforce. The kinds of post-secondary students referenced in the book have poor executive function and critical thinking skills. What I see are larger implications for the longer-term future as these traits get passed on to the next generation. So the Slate.com article raises the question about what could be done to stem this tide.

I wasn’t raised by helicopter parents, but inherited anxiety issues left me afraid to fail for a long time.  Now, it’s a lot less of a concern because I see failure as part of the “new ideas” cycle. So many people forget that failure is also learning so we do our kids (and, by extension, our learners) a huge disservice by not allowing them to fail (safely). If you’re afraid to fail, you won’t take risks. Risk-taking is part of Innovation. Without innovation, we see people living in the “we’ve always done it that way” world and, well,  we know what that’s like.

Let’s start by enabling safe-fail environments and some reinforcement of executive function and critical thinking. We might be able to get a head-start in the workplace while the Higher Ed institutions try the same things at their end.


About Mark L. Sheppard

learning geek, lifelong learner, terminally curious, recovering blogger and Ed Tech explorer.

Posted on July 9, 2015, in commentary, reblog and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Wow, this is a concern. There’s no point educating someone if they don’t learn how to learn. These are the types of people who enter the workforce and await to “be trained”.

    I like your ideas, Mark, of what to do about it in the workplace, but without a partnership with universities, schools, and parents (!) it will remain an uphill battle.

  2. I see another issue here as well as not only the fear of failing, but the inability to receive constructive criticism. Too many young people have now been sheltered to think any criticism is bullying, harassment and a personal attack on their abilities/skills/work/etc. and then decide they just must give up/not bother/why try.

    • There are a lot of jokes about “kids who get trophies just for participating”, but there’s a grain of truth in the jest. Encouragement and support are always warranted, but so is feedback. It is going to take a lot of mindset change across a few generations to turn the tide. Otherwise, the only ones who will benefit are therapists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, and Big Pharma.

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