The New York Times' long quest to find another op-ed columnist as stupid as David Brooks brings us Judith Warner today. Her revelation is Helicopter Parenting Turns Deadly. The infuriating and tragic story at the center of her column is that of Megan Meier, a 13 year-old driven to suicide by the sinister scheming of a middle-aged neighbor.
Megan Meier, a 13-year-old from Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, killed herself last year after an online relationship she believed she was having with a cute 16-year-old boy named Josh went very sour. What she didn’t know – what her parents would learn six weeks after her death – was that “Josh” was the fictitious creation of Lori Drew, a then-47-year-old neighbor and the mother of one of Megan’s friends.
Or former friends. Megan had, essentially, dropped the other girl when she’d changed schools and tried to put an unhappy chapter of her junior high school life – fraught with weight problems and depression – behind her.
Drew’s daughter, one assumes, would have eventually gotten over it. But Drew didn’t. Instead, she got revenge.
She created a fake MySpace profile (she later told police she’d done so to “find out what Megan was saying online” about her daughter, according to a sheriff’s report). Working with her daughter, she led Megan to become infatuated with “Josh.” And then she delivered the blow. “I don’t like the way you treat your friends,” Drew wrote. According to Megan’s father, “Josh”’s last e-mail to his daughter read, “You are a bad person and everybody hates you … The world would be a better place without you.”
This is well plowed ground by now, but Warner thinks she has a new insight: the problem, you see, is helicopter parenting. Lori Drew was just too involved in her daughter's life.
That set my bullshit detectors screaming, I'm afraid. Now it is certainly true that there are parents who are too involved in their children's lives, and it's also true that Lori Drew committed a monstrous act of evil, but to say that one caused the other is absurd - like saying that beach houses cause hurricanes.
Whatever the provocation or excuse, Lori Drew plotted to destroy a young girl's life - a vicious, evil, and contemptible act. The failure here was not "helicopter parenting," it was evil behavior.
"Helicopter parents" who rush to school to make sure their kids get the best classes or insist on delivering healthful food to their college dorm living children may or may not be a nuisance to those children, and they might be making life somewhat more difficult for school officials, but they aren't plotting to destroy a child.
The logic is absurd. David Brooks, meet a peer.