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It’s painful for any parent to watch their child mess up, or not achieve their (or their parents’) goals. “Increasingly, it appears any mistake could be fatal for their class outcome,” said Philip Cohen, a sociologist studying parenting and inequality at the University of Maryland.The problem is: Snowplowing is a parenting habit that’s hard to break. Helicopter parenting, the practice of hovering anxiously near one’s children, monitoring their every activity, is so 20th century.It starts early, when parents get on wait lists for elite preschools before their babies are born and try to make sure their toddlers are never compelled to do anything that may frustrate them.Parents now spend more money on child rearing than any previous generation did, according to Consumer Expenditure Survey data analyzed by the sociologists Sabino Kornrich and Frank Furstenberg. Milkie, a sociologist at the University of Toronto, today’s working mothers spend as much time doing hands-on activities with their children as stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s.Texting and social media have allowed parents to keep ever closer track of their progeny.Eleven percent said they would contact their child’s employer if their child had an issue.
But they had to do the work.” She even considered a donation to the college of his choice. Eisenberg’s son was admitted to two of the best musical theater programs in the country, she said, along with nine more of the 26 schools he applied to.)College has been on their radar since her son was in diapers. Those are among the allegations in the recent college bribery scandal, in which 50 people were charged in a wide-ranging fraud to secure students admissions to colleges.The bribery scandal has “just highlighted an incredibly dark side of what has become normative, which is making sure that your kid has the best, is exposed to the best, has every advantage — without understanding how disabling that can be,” said Madeline Levine, a psychologist and the author of “Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies or ‘Fat Envelopes.’” “They’ve cleared everything out of their kids’ way,” she said. Levine said, she regularly sees college freshmen who “have had to come home from Emory or Brown because they don’t have the minimal kinds of adult skills that one needs to be in college.” One came home because there was a rat in the dorm room. Others said it was too much work, and they had never learned independent study skills. Her whole life, her parents had helped her avoid sauce, calling friends before going to their houses for dinner.At college, she didn’t know how to cope with the cafeteria options — covered in sauce.“Here are parents who have spent 18 years grooming their kids with what they perceive as advantages, but they’re not,” Dr. Yes, it’s a parent’s job to support the children, and to use their adult wisdom to prepare for the future when their children aren’t mature enough to do so.They flounder, said Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshmen at Stanford and the author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.” At Stanford, she said, she saw students rely on their parents to set up play dates with people in their dorm or complain to their child’s employers when an internship didn’t lead to a job.The root cause, she said, was parents who had never let their children make mistakes or face challenges. Lythcott-Haims said: “The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid.”Helicopter parenting is a term that came into vogue in the 1980s and grew out of fear about children’s physical safety — that they would fall off a play structure or be kidnapped at the bus stop.