Helicopter Moms Hover Over Kids' Romantic Lives

PHOTO: Helicopter mom and author Jennifer Coburn says her daughters breakup caused her own heartbreak.
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Jennifer Coburn freaked out when her 14-year-old daughter, Kate, received a text break-up after a short-lived romance with a boy she had met at camp.

Kate sailed through his rejection -- "I'm not sure how I feel about you anymore" -- with no hard feelings, but her mother just couldn't move on emotionally.

The San Diego author describes her obsession with Kate's private love life in a light-hearted article she wrote recently for Salon, "Her Breakup, My Heartbreak."

Coburn offered her daughter consolation so they could weep together over ice cream, Amy Winehouse music and "sappy" romantic comedies. But her daughter would have nothing of it.

"Do you need a hug?" wrote Coburn, 45. "Uh, do you?" replied her daughter.

Helicopter moms increasingly hover over their children's love lives, micromanaging everything from their Facebook accounts to how to dress on a date, according to therapists.

In the past, mothers have organized play dates, written college essays and even showed up at job interviews. Caving in to this 21st century phenomenon, several universities -- Smith College, Mt. Holyoke and Holy Cross, among others -- recently announced they will allow parents to write their children's own glowing admission recommendations.

But now, these mothers have landed in the romantic sphere, micromanaging dates and relationships, according to Larina Kase, a Philadelphia psychologist who specializes in child and adolescent anxiety.

She said helicopter parenting, particularly crossing privacy boundaries, raises anxiety levels in children and ultimately undermines their self-confidence.

"I have seen several families in which the mother is much more upset about the break-up than their son or daughter was," said Kase.

"Nine out of 10 times it comes from a good place -- usually love and fear," she said. "You love so much that you are afraid of them experiencing any kind of pain, including emotional pain."

In her private practice, Kase has counseled parents who ask their son or daughter to "practice" how they will communicate with a boyfriend or girlfriend, offering to review texts and emails.

Others excessively monitor their child's Facebook page and other communication -- often without permission -- then offer unsolicited advice.

"Moms get overly involved in shopping, outfit selection, hairstyles [with] daughters for dates," said Kase. "I have even had parents suggest double dates including the parents."

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