Blog | Personal development

Why Your Helicopter Parenting Isn’t Working

Get yourself and your kids focused on what will really bring success in this world

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Sometime over the last decade or two, the term “helicopter parenting” came into our national lexicon. If you haven’t heard of this term, it describes parents who jump in to control every aspect of their kid’s life, helping them avoid any challenges or pain with the aim of making it easier for them to get ahead in life.

Helicopter parents are easy targets for many people. When I was a kid, my parents were much more removed from my day-to-day activities. I spent many hours each day out on my own, making my own adventures… and trouble… without my parents in my business.

Why helicopter parenting makes sense

Many people remember such times and lament the fact that modern parents “dote” on their kids. But as Jenny Anderson points out, writing for “Quartz”, there’s a real and compelling reason for the rise of helicopter parenting.

  • Economists Matthias Doepke of Northwestern University and Fabrizio Zilibotti of Yale University explain that as society has become more unequal, and the stakes for higher education have skyrocketed, middle-class and upper-class parents have responded naturally: By helping with homework, signing kids up for every imaginable activity, reading War and Peace to their toddlers, and making sure their kids know how to code (of course).

Basically, “Parents get more intense as a country gets more unequal over time, and grow more permissive if the country gets more equal.”

Anderson shows how parents who raise kids in more countries where equality is the norm are able to be more permissive whereas those that raise kids in countries where inequality is high are more focused on controlling and pushing their children.

The harsh reality is that the US is a country where inequality is growing rapidly.

The problem with helicopter parenting

The problem I see with helicopter parenting is not that parents are too intensely focused on their kids. I actually think that is potentially healthy. Rather the problem is that they are intensely focused on the wrong things.

For instance, Anderson points out that children of helicopter parents in the US are more likely to attend college: “For example, through some complex statistical analysis, they show that according to one US data set, when controlling for mothers’ level of education, kids of authoritative moms have a higher probability of getting a college degree (34%) than kids of permissive ones (30%) or authoritarian (24%).”

The problem with this, however, is that people assume that children who attend college will be more successful than those that don’t. While a college education can be helpful, it is not a guarantee for success. Rather the ability to think differently than others and to know how money works is a much better indicator of success, in my experience, than whether or not you have a college degree.

Three types of education

In one of my latest videos on YouTube, I talk about different times of education.

Academic education is about reading and writing. It’s about understanding general knowledge about the world. It’s very important, but it will not help you be successful when it comes to money and work.

Professional education is about learning skills that help you in a specific career path, such as a doctor, lawyer, or web programmer. It’s also important, and while it can help you land a good job, it won’t help you be rich.

The third type of education that is required for success is financial education. Unfortunately, schools do not teach financial education, and by extension, neither do parents.

Helicopter parents are focused on the wrong types of education

Because of the lack of financial education in the world today, we see the rich getting excessively richer and the gap between the rich and the poor is dangerously extreme. It is this gap that helicopter parents are recognizing, and it’s why they are so intensely focused on their kids and trying to help them get an edge in this world.

Unfortunately, they are focused on the wrong things. That is, academic and professional education. The one thing they are not focused on is financial education.

As a young boy, I was fortunate enough to have a rich dad who invested in me and my financial education. He taught me from the board game Monopoly the secrete to wealth: four green houses and then one red hotel. Today, even though I wasn’t good academically and I’m not too strong professionally, I’m a wealthy person because my rich dad took the time to teach me the importance of financial education.

Perhaps you’re reading this and recognizing yourself as a helicopter parent. My message to you would be that there’s nothing wrong with your impulse. You should be extremely concerned about your child’s future. There’s a lot of things stacked against kids today.

But if your focus is on good grades, excessive sports participation, learning a trendy language, and intense music training, you’re doing it wrong. You’re focused on trying to get your child into a good college or career when you should be focused on teaching them about how money really works…and how to make it work for them.

If you think that’s true, well you’re in the right place. The Rich Dad company is all about financial education, and if you want to teach your kids how to be wealthy and rich in this life, then we have all the resources you need to make that happen.

Don’t stop with your helicopter parenting. Rather, point that helicopter in the right direction and your kids will be light years ahead of the others.

Original publish date: February 19, 2019

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