Is it always the helicopter parent’s fault?

I’ve just read an article in Psychology Today about an observed decline in resilience in college students in the USA. The author links this in part to the phenomenon of helicopter parenting – where parents solve all their children’s problems for them. It’s an interesting post, and as I university student in the UK I can definitely see a correlation between students who need more guidance at university and those who come from well nurtured and ‘privileged backgrounds’. I don’t mean the financial kind of privilege, more those whom have parents who do everything for them, domestically and financially, which doesn’t prepare the students for situations when they are on their own at university.


I believe that students have to learn to be independent, which not only means taking care of themselves but being able to handle the bad sides of life and failure, that come from their own mistakes, lack of effort, commitment and dedication to learning and/or strengthening themselves, or even just bad luck. The ‘protection’ provided by parents is great no doubt, however it can only work for so long until the child needs to embrace reality which includes bad experiences and incredible disappointment.

I think that resilience is not taught, it is learnt and is only realised (from my experience) after a string of disappointments. The mental switch eventually kicks in and the student realises the true meaning of ‘one door closes and another one opens’. I have found that non-resilient students that I’ve met have a very narrow-minded way of thinking, which can also affect their studying and academic performance; they are locked into ‘answering in one way’ or ‘picking up on these key things’, rather than testing the water and using their abilities to think harder and think bigger.

I think that expansive technology and the automated life we live, where everything is done for us rather than us learning how to or seeking the solution out for ourselves, also means that students are not as resilient now. I am one of few people that I know that have been taught to do things on their own and this has built my independence and drive. Drive is a big determinant I believe that will help those develop resilience, but passion for what that want is also core. I believe that students who lack these two “requisites”, will find it harder to be resilient and fight the fear.

Jackie Tan (Employer Relations Student Assistant) @ HenleyCareers