Discipling Democrats

DISCIPLING DEMOCRATS: How "Helicopter parents" might be discipling their children to expect "helicopter Government."

So what do YOU think?

keith drury


Anonymous said...

I guess I've been on another planet, because I've never heard the term. I think you might be on to something, though. The entitlement mentality has almost completely infiltrated American society.

Lance said...

I haven't heard the term before, but the article is great. I'm 23, finished undergraduate in December 2006, and I did not have helicopter parents. I know plenty of students who did though. Thanks for the insight.

Brad Harris said...

I've never heard the term as well. I do however, see the entitlement mentality and I do not think it matters if you are republican or democrat(not sure what that is anymore). It is filtering down to everyone.

It started with the simplest things like not doing work around the house. I can't tell you the number of teens who have never mowed grass, rake a yard, help clean the house, and wash the family car. I set up work projects for the spring and fall to help those in the community who need help. Myself and the adult help have to teach most of the teens how to do the things I mentioned above. I'm amazed the things that they do not know how to do. The reason why they don't is that their parents do it for them. I almost feel bad that my daughters started mowing grass at the age of 8 and that my one daughter at the age of 12 made 42 apple pies on her own(with little help)and made $500 to go to the Wesleyan Youth Convention in Florida 1 1/2 years ago.

There is always exceptions to the following.
1. Parents do too much and don't allow for failure. Parents step in and don't allow for learning. We can forget that life should bring experiences and through experiences bring learning. Then in return bring growth.
2. I believe we also forget that nothing is ever truly free. It did cost someone something at one point of time. It probably makes us a little more ungrateful,little more demanding, and a feeling that we deserve it.
3. This entitlement mentality started a few years ago. I can have a nice house and a nice car even though I can't actually afford it. Why? I deserve the American dream even though I can't pay my credit card off. So, now the government needs to bail me out. (again, there are exceptions to this)
4. Yes, I feel we can and we are encouraging this mentality. There is a difference between government coming in providing everything or creating a dependence on it than empowering people to help them selves. It is easy just to give people fish but it is harder to take the time to teach them how to fish so they can learn to do it on their own. I'm afraid that our government is good at giving out the fish but not very good at empowering people too fish.

So, I think I will still let my daughters mow the grass, weed the flower beds, shovel snow, work to earn money for youth conventions, clean the horse stalls so they can have riding lessons, and yes the other day my one daughter learned to change the oil on the car. But, maybe that's bad parenting.

Pete Vecchi said...

It's not just parents. The government has become more and more of a "nanny state" seemingly each year. As the parent of a college student (as well as a parent of a college graduate), I can see that I am probably NOT a "helicopter parent" now, nor was I to my oldest child. The examples given by Keith were pretty much things that I would not think of doing.

But here I am, nearly 30 years removed from having entered college as a freshman, and I saw some of that behavior from parents even 30 years ago--just not to the extent that Keith seems to be saying it is occurring today. It seems that it is a SLOW move towards people becoming dependent on others to provide for them.

Yet think about how this changes how we might have to start presenting the Gospel message. When I entered college, the idea of Grace being a free gift from God that a person couldn't earn was difficult for some people to accept, because people generally felt (at least in the U.S. at that time) that if they received something from anyone (including from God), they should do something to "earn" it or to "pay back" for it.

Today, it seems that we might be on the verge of needing to spread the Gospel to people who have an "entitlement" mentality along the lines of "Why SHOULDN'T God save me?"

In any event, Keith's remarks are right on the mark (as usual).

Anonymous said...

Keith, I agree with you completely and I am glad that you picked up on the hypocrisy of Republican parents who are training future Democrats. You on the other hand are a real Democrat who did not raise your kids that way I don't think, explain that one to us.

Mark Schnell said...

Sorry Keith, I have to join your first several posters, I haven't heard the term before and I'm fairly pop culture saavy.

One of my seminary profs told our class a few weeks ago that his daughter, who is a senior in high school, is thinking of going to college on the west coast. He and his wife are wondering if it is time to shift their career focus and move out there too. I wanted to shout out, "Are ya ever gonna let her grow up?"

I am concerned about the all bailout stuff that is taking place and how people are looking to the government for their rescue. You are so right that this is not going to go away.

These last few articles have been very thought provoking.

Rebecca Argot said...

I currently attending SWU, and so far, paid for anything that I need for classes and living. However there are times when I call home or an ememergancy came up, that I asked for money.
Only time that a ride was plan by my father was to take the train to VA for a funeral and another train ride after winter graduation.

Keith Drury said...

I apologize for assigning you to another planet ;-) the “helicopter Parenting” term has been used in newsmagazines occasionally the past year but is everywhere in the college literature and on college campuses. Just because I have seen it so often does not mean others have. Well, now that you’ve seen it here you’ll notice it more probably.

Very interesting… I’m going to think about that the rest of the week. I think you have something… “salvation as an entitlement.” Hmmmmmm… [During lent Steve Deneff -College Church here--has been dealing with the four views of the atonement and the culture along the same lines.]

CRAIG: I think I explained that in the footnote—I’m happy to spend to provide opportunity… my sons had a huge advantage others might not have—they could borrow money from me at the prevailing interest rates in 6th grade and become entrenuprenurs. Many do not have that advantage and I’m willing to see it provided so people are not trapped in a welfare system that keeps them forever as "government clients.”

REBECCA: Hooray! You will have a decade leap on your peers. (I do think it is harder for parents to use the “responsibility model” with daughters than sons—but it need not be that way. )

JohnLDrury said...

I acknowledge this trend and I think the connection you make is a real possibility -- especially for a generation entering adult during the resurgence of a more parental government supported by populist anger at big business.

I would suggest that the connection between republican helicopter parents and helicopter government is ironic but not incoherent. As you point out, it is ironic because they model the opposite of what they expect from government and so form their children to expect from government the very things they reject. But it is not incoherent inasmuch as the cry for smaller government is linked to a confidence in family and other mediating institutions to care for peoples' needs (called the subsidiary principle in catholic social teaching, which has been adopted my many influential evangelicals). These parents are practicing self-reliance with regard to their own practices (i.e., I'll take care of my kids instead of the government). But they're not inculcating these self-reliant practices in their children, and are instead modeling a kind a parenting that will be impossible for their children to achieve until well after they embrace their own responsibility. This lack of formation will all but guarantee that the practical irony will triumph over the theoretical coherence of the position.

Great article! As you can tell, it got me thinking. Thanks for the insights!


Dan said...

Sometimes we forget that failure can lead to learning and growth. Parents and institutions (including governments and charities)need to assess whether giving or withholding "help" would appear to be the most effective way forward.

dan said...

this post reminded me of a story you told in Church Leadership. You said some kids in a renal house you own, complained that their heater was broke cause their heating bill was like $300. when you got to the house they had the windows wide open.

upon further discussion, you told them nothing was wrong, just they needed to shut their windows!

i get a chuckle out of that every once and a while...

Anonymous said...

I hope that rental house wasn't the one my son was in. He complained to me that his room-mate was "wasting" heat. and told us about his using the air conditioner during the winter! I know my son would probably complain, because it was not his doing (self responsible behavior and not socially responsible behavior).

Ryan Westphal said...

Much of the problem is the selfishness of parents. Wanting to give little Johnny and Suzy everything and not wanting them to "miss out on anything."

My other concern is for the church going forward. Salvation as an intitlement is one thought. But who is going to serve. The church is no longer able to truely outreach to thier communities becuase people are watching out for themselves and thier kids. There is no longer a thought towards making a difference in society at large. The more selfish people get the more distant we get from the great commision. It just takes too much work.

Keith Drury said...

JOHN: Excellent point. The challenge is not to the parent's values so much as the value actually passed on to children...good thought. Also you now have me thinking of other things that are "ironic but not incoherent." Hmmmmm

DAN: I agree--parental protection form the consequences is always a tricky thing... parents want to be a "safety net" and even provide "bailouts" yet avoid producing perpetual welfare recipients

ANON: I don't recall whose son it was--he was a business major I remember. But no wonder...in the dorm "somebody else paid" for the heat going out the window. He began tog row up when he realized the "somebody paying"was himself!

RYAN: Excellent tie to serving in the church--I agree that there is also a sense of "entitlement" in the church--"somebody else" is supposed to staff the nursery, run the youth ministry, keep the building clean, provide nice music and preaching, run the VBS, teach my children in Sunday School-- which of course has provided lots of jobs for young ministerial graduates--but sometimes at the expense of the joy of personal serving.

Thnks all these and any other thoughts....

Brian La Croix said...

I had to pay my own way to college because my parents simply couldn't afford it. They did pay for my health insurance and such, but I didn't even get spending money.

My oldest daughter is about to head off to college this fall. She knows I can't contribute much, so will have to get through on grants, scholarships, loans, etc.
She did buy her own car ($250.00), though!

All of my kids have learned through their experiences in high school that neither their mother and I will come to their rescue for bad grades or because they had to serve detention or something. We've made it clear to them and their teachers that we will stand with the teacher unless they can prove that the teacher is in gross error. (Some of us remember the days when it was assumed that the CHILD was lying and not the teacher...)

I never asked my dad to bail me out of trouble. In fact, he told me when I was a teenager that if was ever caught drinking by the police (I was underage and not in a Christian home), I would spend the night in jail - he would not bail me out. I believed him.

I had to learn that my decisions for good or bad had consequences, and my children are learning the same.

Support them, yes. Try to make life a little easier in terms of budget, yes - to an extent. But make them dependent on mom and dad after they leave home, probably not a good idea.

Ryan Schmitz said...

lol, we must have some of their siblings on our campus:

-Parent inspecting our housing for several hours, in order to scout out the "best" possible room for his son.

-Only one incoming Freshman made an initial call to me last summer about their housing. The rest were mostly Mom and a couple of Dads (although one admitted his wife told him to call).

-Major complaint from a parent that the university was willing to provide transportation to the airport for one of our student. We just didn't care as much as we said we did.

-Not to forget the parents that pour over our campus handbook for hours trying to justify their son or daughter's disciplinary action in order to reduce or eliminate their consequences.

So much for everyone complaining about us Xers.