The Dangers of Helicopter Parents

Fair warning- I’m on my soap box…and this may get long. You’ve been warned.

You all know one. A Helicopter Parent. The one that follows their child around the playground to make sure they don’t fall down or climb too high. The parent that calls the school to “talk” to the teacher about the B+ their child got when clearly they deserve an A. The parent that screams at the coach when their kid does not get all the playing time because their child is the star of the team. These parents are not just annoying. They are doing a disservice to their child and society as a whole.  Let me explain.

I’ve been trying to avoid the LaVar/Lonzo Ball fiasco that has been on fire over the last few weeks. For those that don’t know, LaVar Ball is a dad who has bread his 3 sons to be nothing more than basketball players. He has been very public in saying that they will ONLY attend UCLA and they will ONLY play for the Lakers. Excuse me? Are they boys or androids? I have a hard time listening to this man. To quote from the website The Score-

“I don’t need no advice from Kobe Bryant,” LaVar said Thursday on “Mornings with Keyshawn Johnson” on ESPN Radio 710 LA, via ESPN’s Jorge Sedano. “I don’t need advice from Kobe Bryant. ‘Zo’s got to play his game.”

Huh – you “don’t need no advice” Huh. Maybe you need a refresher in basic English.  He’s gone on to do other insanely ridiculous interviews where he tells people that the new shoe his “family brand” is producing will cost $495 a pair. Yup. $495 for a pair of shoes. Branded by a kid who has played one season at UCLA. Excuse me?  I can’t think of a person alive willing to pay that, but apparently he’s already sold a few hundred pair. This man thinks that his family brand and their shoe line should be worth close to $3 billion, yes, with a B. I won’t even go into the horribly disrespectful interview he had on Colin Cowherd’s show “The Herd.”  There are 3 video clips available on this site that summarize the interview. Honestly, I haven’t watched the full interview and I don’t want to. Just watching the few excerpts are enough to make anyone go “huh?”At one point he tells Kristine Leahy that “I’m married. I respect women.”  What does being married to a woman have anything to do with respecting women as a whole?  I can think of a whole list of analogies I could use but none are appropriate here.

This man is the epitome of a helicopter parent. He’s calling every shot for his kids. The worst part is that these kids will never know what life is like without dad.  They live in LA. They go to school in LA. Dad is always around. What happens when dad doesn’t get his way and one of the boys can’t play for the Lakers? Or worse yet- what happens when one of them gets injured and basketball is done?  The way he speaks to interviewers and the comments he makes would turn me off as a prospective coach or team owner. The eldest son, Lonzo is a freshman at UCLA and has said he will enter the NBA draft this year. Why?  Because you need to make it to the NBA to warrant a $3 billion shoe deal for your family brand. What happened to the “student” in student athlete and why are parents pushing kids to go pro when they have so much more to learn?

Former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gave a great interview with various new sources and was published via The Score. See full article here. He said that kids today bypassing their full 4 years are short changing their futures. To quote Mr. Abdul-Jabbar:

”They’re there less than six months. It’s not even six months and they’re gone,” Abdul-Jabbar said. ”It’s a travesty, I think. They’re just using the college system as a stepping stone to the NBA and that’s really unfortunate. I think an education is vital to having a good life and these guys aren’t getting that opportunity. It’s sad.”

I will be the first to admit that my kids will never play professional sports and more than likely none of them will play in college. Most kids won’t.  If you look on the NCAA website they have statistics about how many kids leave college and go pro. Baseball has the highest percentage at 9.1%. Men’s basketball – 1.1%.  Yup – less than 2% of college male basketball players make it to the NBA.

Back to my kids. They are average athletes. I support their love and dream of playing sports. They go to camps. They spend time lifting weights and working out but they also realize that they get out what they put in.  My middle child is still trying to grapple with the fact that just because he is big, doesn’t mean he will be guaranteed a spot anywhere or any kind of playing time. We are surrounded by parents putting their children on pedestals just because they can dribble a ball, run fast or hit well. What kind of life are these kids going to have when they can’t play sports anymore and have to live in the real world?  These kids will be the next generation a-holes; filing law suits against colleges for not getting enough playing time and employers for not getting hired. They are the teens and 20-somethings bearing their souls and disappointments on social media. Enough is enough. Kids need to realize that they won’t be the best at everything..and that is life. You work hard, you do your best and that’s all anyone can ask of you. You don’t get a participation ribbon for showing up at work every day and you damn well won’t get a $3 billion shoe deal for being an a-hole.

Helicopter parents need to land their chopper, for good. Let your kid fail. Let them live the life THEY want to live. You had your chance. Whether you made it or not should have ZERO bearing on the life your child will live. Yes, parents always want something better for their child. But it should be you child’s choice. Let kids be kids and live their own life. If you don’t – that kid you’ve spent so many years circling, will be living with you well into their 30’s. Looking to you to get them a job and any other hand out they want. That isn’t the kind of world I want to live in. Do you?



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