A woman I’ll call Erica, a 45-year-old mother of three, has a system for monitoring her children’s television and movie watching. Three systems, actually: one for the 9-year-old, one for the 13-year-old and one for the 16-year-old. To implement these systems, she told me, she often watches television with her children. She also tries, when possible, to accompany them to movies outside the home. Finally, she requires them to discuss with her the content of what they’ve seen, whether she watched it with them or they viewed it alone.
When people worry about today’s hyper-involved parenting — or helicopter parenting, as some have dubbed it, for its constant hovering — that worry is almost always directed at children. Critics fret that the children of helicopter parents will lack maturity, self-reliance, self-esteem and good old-fashioned gumption.