Do 'Helicopter Moms' Do More Harm Than Good?

ByABC News
October 21, 2005, 3:35 PM

Oct. 21, 2005 — -- Robyn Lewis is an extraordinarily devoted parent. As a single mom, she home schooled her sons, Ethan and Brendan, and her life has revolved around caring for them. Even though Ethan, 21, and Brendan, 18, are now attending college away from home, and she's taken a full-time job, that doesn't mean Lewis is losing interest -- or hour-by-hour involvement -- in her boys' lives.

When she's not on her cell phone with one of the boys, she's organizing their lives. She spends an hour drafting to-do e-mails for her sons, checking their grades, their bank account balances and even using their personal passwords to check their student e-mail.

Lewis works tirelessly to keep everything in her sons' lives in order -- from doing their laundry to organizing their schedules to proofreading their papers.

And Brendan and Ethan both say they're grateful for their mom's efforts on their behalf. "She wants to make sure that I do it well, and it, and it's all because, you know, she cares," said Ethan, who's studying at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Brendan, a freshman at Arizona State University, also appreciates his mom's help. "It's nice to have someone else who kind of serves as ... a secretary mom."

And the secretary characterization doesn't bother Lewis. "I think that's great. It means that I'm very organized. A secretary helps to keep the boss focused and organized, right? We don't know how to balance much of our lives yet when we're 18," she said.

No one could deny Lewis loves her sons and wants them to succeed. But not everyone thinks that she's helping them.

"I can understand why a parent would think, 'I'm just doing what I think is right for my son or daughter.' The problem is, they're doing exactly what's wrong for their son or daughter," said Helen Johnson, author of the book, "Don't Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money."

Johnson is a consultant on parental relations for some of America's top universities, and she says parents like Lewis are far too involved in their children's lives.