Tag Archives: West Virginia University

West Virginia University study: Helicopter parents and ‘hothouse children’ — exploring the high stakes of family dynamics

24 Nov

Tyler Kingkade wrote in the Town and Country article, How the College Admissions Scandal Is Different From the Other Ways Rich Parents Help Their Kids Get Into School:What Lori Laughlin, Felicity Huffman, and other wealthy parents did to game the system—and why it’s a crime:

• On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, the Federal government indicted William Singer, a college admissions consultant based out of Newport Beach, California, and 33 other parents including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, for crimes that included bribery and racketeering for purpose of fraudulently getting children into college.
• While there is a culture of paying one’s way into an upper echelon school that is quite pervasive, the Varsity Blues bribery scheme explicitly sought to find spaces for the children in exchange for money, via Singer as conduit.
• William Singer pleaded guilty in a federal court on Tuesday, March 12, while Felicity Huffman was indicted that same day. Lori Loughlin turned herself into federal authorities on Wednesday, March 13. https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/money-and-power/a26813202/college-admissions-scandal-celebrity-names-list-lori-loughlin-felicity-huffman/

Kingkade went on to explain what was different about this scandal.

How Is This Different From the Usual Ways Wealthy Parents Help Their Kids Get Into College?

Lelling’s quote contrasting the alleged bribery scheme with buying a building caught significant attention. Journalists called it “illuminating,” and some reacted with snarky tweets: If the FBI wants to continue its investigation, they might start by looking at names of buildings on a campus, which is how “rich people buy their way into the Ivy League the old fashioned way.” The whole episode touches on an existing undercurrent that too much of society is rigged for the benefit of the rich and privileged in what is supposed to be a meritocracy….
Kingkade concludes:
Wealthy families often donate to colleges with the hope, or expectation, that it’ll get their kids a leg up in the admissions process. The recent affirmative action trial involving Harvard put this on display. Documents in the trial revealed how deans celebrated that because of who the university’s admissions office brought in, donors committed to buying a building. But what is different about the alleged bribery scheme, dubbed “Varsity Blues” by the FBI, is that it was much more explicit exchange of holding a recruitment spot for a student in exchange for a set amount of money.
“Neither one of them may be commendable but it seems to me there is a difference between a bribe and a hope,” Shaw told Town & Country.
It’s typically acceptable for a college to favor the kids of donors as long as it’s only one of multiple factors for admission, and because schools promise to use the money to help fund scholarships for low-income students…. https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/money-and-power/a26813202/college-admissions-scandal-celebrity-names-list-lori-loughlin-felicity-huffman/

The “College Admissions Scandal” is Exhibit A in the operative behavior of helicopter parents.

Science Daily reported in Helicopter parents and ‘hothouse children’ — exploring the high stakes of family dynamics:

True helicopter parents talk a good game in making their actions all about their children, but according to one West Virginia University researcher, what they’re doing is reaping — and heaping — the rewards for themselves.
Kristin Moilanen, associate professor of child development and family studies, said the phenomenon of helicopter parenting most often occurs in middle- to upper-class families where stakes are high for parents to be able to show off their children’s success. Her research, which focuses on young adults 18- to 24- years-old, indicates that high helicopter parenting leads to “low mastery, self-regulation and social competence.”
“Unfortunately, I think the term for those children is ‘hothouse children,'” Moilanen said. “I think they’ve been raised to be these sort of delicate flowers under these very well-controlled conditions and — just like a tropical plant — they’re vulnerable whenever those conditions are exceeded, which is a scary thought.”
The college admissions scandal, which led to the arrest and incarceration of two Hollywood actresses who had bribed high-profile universities to admit their children by falsifying admissions test scores or outright lying about athletic abilities, might be the most currently-famous example of helicopter parenting gone wrong.
“Their stakes were different than, maybe for average people, but maybe [the fear was] they wouldn’t have access to the spotlight or that the college wouldn’t be prestigious enough, maybe that it wouldn’t be in keeping with their lifestyle they were accustomed to,” Moilanen said.
The motivation for “the right” college or university rounds out the helicopter parents’ career guidance, for example, forcing a choice in medicine when the child may want to be an artist, she continued. Helicopter parenting, Moilanen said, isn’t done for what the child wants; it can be done for what the parent wants for the child.
The dichotomy does more harm that just resentment toward an interfering parent. Moilanen said children take parents’ repeated over-involvement in their decisions to heart, undermining their sense of self-concept and their ability to self-regulate.
Moilanen said when those students come to college, where their parents have a financial stake, they have struggles they don’t necessarily know how to manage. Some of them handle the pressure with dangerous behaviors, including episodic drinking that they hide from their parents.
“It can get messy for those kids really fast,” she said. “In a sense, they get caught between their parents’ desires, even if [the child] knows what’s best for themselves….”
Moilanen noted that some children may need more oversight than others, and those situations vary from family-to-family and even from child-to-child within a family. Also, she said, “most kids turn out just fine and learn to ‘adult’ on their own.”
There’s no research yet that shows what kind of parents these “hothouse children” are or will be, Moilanen said…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191118140319.htm

Citation:

Helicopter parents and ‘hothouse children’ — exploring the high stakes of family dynamics
Date: November 18, 2019
Source: West Virginia University
Summary:
The phenomenon of helicopter parenting most often occurs in middle- to upper-class families where stakes are high for parents to be able to show off their children’s success. Her research, which focuses on young adults 18- to 24- years-old, indicates that high helicopter parenting leads to ‘low mastery, self-regulation and social competence.’

Journal Reference:
Kristin L. Moilanen, Mary Lynn Manuel. Helicopter Parenting and Adjustment Outcomes in Young Adulthood: A Consideration of the Mediating Roles of Mastery and Self-Regulation. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2019; 28 (8): 2145 DOI: 10.1007/s10826-019-01433-5

Here is the press release from West Virginia University:

NEWS RELEASE 18-NOV-2019
Helicopter parents and ‘hothouse children’ — exploring the high stakes of family dynamics
WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
True helicopter parents talk a good game in making their actions all about their children, but according to one West Virginia University researcher, what they’re doing is reaping–and heaping–the rewards for themselves.
Kristin Moilanen, associate professor of child development and family studies, said the phenomena of helicopter parenting most often occurs in middle- to upper-class families where stakes are high for parents to be able to show off their children’s success. Her research, which focuses on young adults 18- to 24- years-old, indicates that high helicopter parenting leads to “low mastery, self-regulation and social competence.”
“Unfortunately, I think the term for those children is ‘hothouse children,'” Moilanen said. “I think they’ve been raised to be these sort of delicate flowers under these very well-controlled conditions and –just like a tropical plant– they’re vulnerable whenever those conditions are exceeded, which is a scary thought.”
The college admissions scandal, which led to the arrest and incarceration of two Hollywood actresses who had bribed high-profile universities to admit their children by falsifying admissions test scores or outright lying about athletic abilities, might be the most currently-famous example of helicopter parenting gone wrong.
“Their stakes were different than, maybe for average people, but maybe [the fear was] they wouldn’t have access to the spotlight or that the college wouldn’t be prestigious enough, maybe that it wouldn’t be in keeping with their lifestyle they were accustomed to,” Moilanen said.
The motivation for “the right” college or university rounds out the helicopter parents’ career guidance, for example, forcing a choice in medicine when the child may want to be an artist, she continued. Helicopter parenting, Moilanen said, isn’t done for what the child wants; it can be done for what the parent wants for the child.
The dichotomy does more harm that just resentment toward an interfering parent. Moilanen said children take parents’ repeated over-involvement in their decisions to heart, undermining their sense of self-concept and their ability to self-regulate.
Moilanen said when those students come to college, where their parents have a financial stake, they have struggles they don’t necessarily know how to manage. Some of them handle the pressure with dangerous behaviors, including episodic drinking that they hide from their parents
“It can get messy for those kids really fast,” she said. “In a sense, they get caught between their parents’ desires, even if [the child] knows what’s best for themselves.”
Moilanen said children might figure out problems on their own, but the parent swoops in before they have the opportunity to learn for themselves. Collateral side effects of the child’s continued lack of autonomy could be heightened anxiety and internalizing problems, as well as leading to the belief that they are incapable of living independently and their outcomes are primarily shaped by external forces instead of their own decisions, the research said.
Moilanen noted that some children may need more oversight than others, and those situations vary from family-to-family and even from child-to-child within a family. Also, she said, “most kids turn out just fine and learn to ‘adult’ on their own.”
There’s no research yet that shows what kind of parents these “hothouse children” are or will be, Moilanen said.
“We do know that people tend to repeat the parenting that they receive, so I would say the chances are good that those children who were raised by helicopter parents would probably act in kind,” she said.
###
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Paul Tough wrote a very thoughtful New York Times piece about the importance of failure in developing character, not characters.

In What If the Secret to Success Is Failure? Tough writes:

Dominic Randolph can seem a little out of place at Riverdale Country School — which is odd, because he’s the headmaster. Riverdale is one of New York City’s most prestigious private schools, with a 104-year-old campus that looks down grandly on Van Cortlandt Park from the top of a steep hill in the richest part of the Bronx. On the discussion boards of UrbanBaby.com, worked-up moms from the Upper East Side argue over whether Riverdale sends enough seniors to Harvard, Yale and Princeton to be considered truly “TT” (top-tier, in UrbanBabyese), or whether it is more accurately labeled “2T” (second-tier), but it is, certainly, part of the city’s private-school elite, a place members of the establishment send their kids to learn to be members of the establishment. Tuition starts at $38,500 a year, and that’s for prekindergarten.
Randolph, by contrast, comes across as an iconoclast, a disrupter, even a bit of an eccentric. He dresses for work every day in a black suit with a narrow tie, and the outfit, plus his cool demeanor and sweep of graying hair, makes you wonder, when you first meet him, if he might have played sax in a ska band in the ’80s. (The English accent helps.) He is a big thinker, always chasing new ideas, and a conversation with him can feel like a one-man TED conference, dotted with references to the latest work by behavioral psychologists and management gurus and design theorists. When he became headmaster in 2007, he swapped offices with his secretary, giving her the reclusive inner sanctum where previous headmasters sat and remodeling the small outer reception area into his own open-concept work space, its walls covered with whiteboard paint on which he sketches ideas and slogans. One day when I visited, one wall was bare except for a white sheet of paper. On it was printed a single black question mark.
For the headmaster of an intensely competitive school, Randolph, who is 49, is surprisingly skeptical about many of the basic elements of a contemporary high-stakes American education. He did away with Advanced Placement classes in the high school soon after he arrived at Riverdale; he encourages his teachers to limit the homework they assign; and he says that the standardized tests that Riverdale and other private schools require for admission to kindergarten and to middle school are “a patently unfair system” because they evaluate students almost entirely by I.Q. “This push on tests,” he told me, “is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.”
The most critical missing piece, Randolph explained as we sat in his office last fall, is character — those essential traits of mind and habit that were drilled into him at boarding school in England and that also have deep roots in American history. “Whether it’s the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon or someone coming here in the 1920s from southern Italy, there was this idea in America that if you worked hard and you showed real grit, that you could be successful,” he said. “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that. People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that….” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

See, Two studies: The value of honest praise https://drwilda.com/2014/01/05/two-studies-the-value-of-honest-praise/

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