Blogger “Agnostic” — who like me is in his early 30s — has been documenting the difference between his/our childhoods and that of Millennials, or those slightly younger folks he trashes for being shut-ins whose nostalgia consists mostly of things done indoors, under the tutelage of doting parents. In a post critical of a long list of things 90s kids supposedly adore from a site that wrote a book about it, he writes, “of about 140 items, I count roughly 14 things that are not TV, movies, and video games.” Sounds pretty shitty to me. Then again I’m biased, even if I think Hackers is pretty badass too.
But in their defense, helicopter kids are our future, because career-building, safety, and a fetish for the long-term, early on, are popular themes nowadays. It’s the offspring of the on-top-of-things that make for the flesh and blood of the professional class, i.e. the people who run shit. Brink Lindsey, writing at The Atlantic, complains that the only thing wrong with helicopter parents is that there just aren’t enough of them. He praises their excessive, even “comical” attention to their kids:
“Starting in the 1990s parents began spending significantly more time with their kids,” he tells us. “And there is evidence that the very nature of their parenting style is good for grooming productive workers.”
Helicopter parenting doesn’t bode well for the future. A lot of people seem eager to praise helicopter parents—parents who pressure their children to be high achievers, mostly in the academic realm, occasionally in the sports or artistic realm—since these parent have appeared to prepare their children for a successful career in upper middle management, or in somewhat lucrative high-prestige professions, like medicine or law. Undoubtedly these children will make good office/cubicle rats at the upper echelons of their profession, and they will undoubtedly play the attendant status games that come with their economic attendant. However, what’s not guaranteed is that these children will actually run things.
See, these parents are basically training their children to become aggressive brown-nosing sycophants. They teach them how abide by the rules of the system (even the unspoken ones), but the flaw in this plan is that those who run things don’t generally care about the rules. They don’t aggressively follow the rules, nor do they exploit the rules. Instead, they make their own rules. The failure of helicopter parents is that while they train their children to be aggressive in their pursuits of success, the never bother teaching them that the key to success is making your own rules. And so, the offspring of helicopter parents may be able to achieve moderate success, but their preoccupation with rules—whether by extreme compliance or by attempts at subversion—renders them unable to lead because they never control the frame.