5 Signs of Overparenting

Millennial parents can have a hard time letting go of their kids.
Millennial parents can have a hard time letting go of their kids.
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Beginning in the first decade of the 2000s, college deans and admissions counselors noticed a new student stereotype on campus. Profoundly attached to their parents and terrified of academic failure, these nicknamed "teacups" and "crispies" had a tough time functioning without moms or dads coaching them every step of the way [source: Gibbs]. Some parents had become so integrally intertwined in their children's transition to college life -- in some cases even selecting alma maters and majors on their offspring's behalf -- that the University of Vermont started training "parent bouncers" to rein in overly involved moms and dads during student orientation in the summer of 2005 [source: Reidel]. The first generation of overparented Millennials had grown up -- but hadn't outgrown their parents' constant hovering and well-intentioned micromanagement.

Overparenting, also known as snowplow, helicopter and hothouse parenting, took off in the 1990s and manifested as a combination of excessive anxiety, unrealistic achievement goals and old fashioned spoiling [source: Acocella]. These hyperprotective parents hired language tutors for toddlers, rushed onto soccer fields at the sight of skinned knees, and shuffled around packed calendars of play dates and enrichment outings. But as more helicopter-parented kids came of age, teachers and child development researchers noticed that all of that parental bubble wrapping had adverse effects. Ironically, with moms and dads excessively safeguarding boys and girls for success, kids weren't developing the psychological resilience and creativity to weather the inevitable pitfalls and logjams on the road to adulthood.

Although the overparenting trend climaxed in about 2009, as media outlets began publishing stories on its potential perils, vestiges remain [source: Gibbs]. Recession-sapped family budgets may not leave room for luxuries such as college application coaches anymore, but there are still many signs of overparenting in the carpool lane. Consider, for instance, the following five red flags that parents may need to take a step -- or two -- back from their children's lives.