Helicopter Parents: Take II

<p>Case of the hovering parents
Universities laying ground rules to give freshmen more independence</p>

<p><a href="http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2005/08/20/case_of_the_hovering_parents/%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2005/08/20/case_of_the_hovering_parents/&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I particular liked this bit:</p>

Rodger Summers, vice president for student affairs at Binghamton University, said he talked a father out of making a three-hour trip to bring a mother's home-cooked meals to a student each week.</p>

<p>''I told him, 'No guy is every going to ever want to date his daughter because he'll have to compete with you!' " Summers said.


<p>Well, I just read the article in the paper. Didn't respond to the first thread, but appreciated Xiggi's comment (paraphrased as to how I remembered the point) that perhaps this generation of parents reflected on the detachment with which our parents raised us and decided to be more involved. I also appreciated your point, Marite, at least I think it was yours, that in some of the orientation sessions you had two parents per student so of course the number of parents attending would be greater than the number of students.</p>

<p>My comment is this:</p>

<p>The baby boom kids grew up and moved halfway across the country from their folks. Siblings spread out all over the place, cousins are plane rides from cousins, families pay for day care while elders pine for occassional visits. Is this how we want to live?</p>

<p>Maybe the idea of dropping off your child so that s/he can fledge the nest forever doesn't sit well. Maybe we hope to maintain a different sort of relationship with our grown children. Maybe we hope to be available to do the daycare for our grandkids. </p>

<p>Perhaps our society is so comptetitive now, that we realize these young people we love so much will be back with us at some time in the future, and perhaps we do not want to see that as failure, but as family. So perhaps we want to maintain ties.</p>

<p>Possibly, the k-12 schools have been calling for our involvement since these kids were wee ones. Hasn't this been the theme over the last couple of decades? Parent involvement parent involvement parent involvement....</p>

<p>So now we're helicoptering if we try to be involved? Oh I get it, involvement = all your $$$$$ are belong to us, now shut up and go away? </p>

<p>Oops, getting alittle het up there, sorry.</p>

<p>I'm just weary of the be involved/don't be involved rollercoaster. </p>

<p>Also, I wish these articles would be more focused on the positive aspects of parenting college kids. Instead of making fun of folks trying to do the best for their kids, try highlighting stories where folks have done it well. What is appropriate involvement? I'm sorry, but I just think a formula that tells you to call your student once a week, don't email and don't IM is just dopey. Uhh, how often you talk/ what form of communication you use might just depend on the situation at hand, might it not?</p>

<p>And instead of making fun of folks trying to do the best for their kids, try looking at the way we have set up our society and give parents credit for maybe trying to form closer family units and maintain closer relationships with these young people we have worked so hard to nurture, love and get to know over the years. We didn't raise 'em under the children are to be seen and not heard system.</p>

<p>Let's face it - the kids who went to college one generation before the boomers (the current parents' parents) had dorm parents, non-coed dorms, sign in and out systems, less drugs sex and rock and roll, fewer porno commercials blasting on TV, fewer credit card companies rolling with glee at the prospect of new customers to encage. </p>

<p>Maybe those of us who jumped into the new floodwaters back in the 60's and the 70's aren't so willing to toss our kids in without life vests. I can remember visiting my cousin in college (probably 1972 ish) when coed dorms were brand new. Picture the 16 year old girl having a chatty conversation with the young man (18?) in his underpants standing outside the bathroom trying, oh trying to be cool about the whole thing. We all knew it was kind of a sham at the time - the be cool in your underpants while we pretend that the whole college thing isn't overwhelmingly strange game. Ok so we want to help our kids through this weird alcohol induced experience we know they are being thrown into while they (hopefully) study harder than they've ever done before. Oh well.</p>

<p>Ahh well, just my two coppers worth.</p>

<p>I bristled at the "no email, no IM" comments, too, but then I realized it's all got to be conditional on the relationship you have now with your child. I expect my son and I will probably always IM each other, for years to come.</p>

<p>We IM all the time now; his friends IM me sometimes, and his girlfriend does often. We're supposed to stop this after next Saturday? I suspect not. We like each other. We chat about a lot of things. My conversations in IM with him are not controlling, not interfering: they're passing along interesting finds, commiserating about politics, laughing about something. (And calling him for dinner, but that type will stop for sure. :) ) And they don't go on for extended periods of time, unless he insists. I won't ping him as often anymore, and mostly I'll wait for him to initiate chats, but occasionally he'll get some from me, too. All he has to do if I ping him at a time when he doesn't want to talk is say, "Not now," and I'm gone. (We're going to establish a codephrase this week that we'll use in place of "Not now" to indicate we don't want to chat. Something respectful but "OK leave me alone now"-ish.) And somehow I don't feel the need to apologize to a college administrator for continuing our relationship in this way.</p>

<p>We solved the "homemade food" problem, though -- I wrote him a cookbook! :)</p>

<p>firsttimemom & mootmom,</p>

<p>Amen to both of you. I don't need a college administrator to approve, edit, reconfigure, or disrespect my separate & very close relationship with my D that said administrator has nothing to do with. Nor do I need limits drawn or defined on what I should & shouldn't do, via condescending public lectures directed by implication at parents with no common sense or low IQ's.</p>

<p>I am also consistently told by others that my D's have turned out well because of my appropriately involved parenting. And I see that every "problem" adolescent (early or late adolescent) with which I am well acquainted has parents very under-involved. Those would include parents from every income level, BTW.</p>

<p>Every parent has a different relationship with his/her child. I appreciate the reasoning behind the "no email, no IM" suggestion but this is not a "one size fits all" situation.</p>

<p>Some days D calls me 6 times, just briefly, to tell me something that struck her funny, or that her new kittens wrecked her curtains. We rarely hear from S#1, who lives 600 miles away. Occasionally he calls to say hi. He's not attending college. S#2 only calls when he needs something. I don't know how much contact S#3 will have. I suspect it will be more than his siblings. He is much more comfortable with computer communication. </p>

<p>I e-mail articles from the local newspaper I think they might like and also send e-greeting cards. I don't expect to hear from S right away. He is participating in a freshman community service program and will be busy for five days before his roommate and the other 09ers move into the dorms. I'm sure I'll get the scoop on his roommate, classes, etc.
("Classes? Am I supposed to go to classes?")</p>

<p>I think you (we) have to conceed that if the school administrators see this as a problem from their perspective: ie, they have seen a significant change over the past five years, then overall there is a problem. Most of the causes listed I think are BS, and are things that have been going on for 20 years, not just the past 5 years. I think the proliferation of cell phones and especially national plans has been the biggest and most recent change. Calling your kid on the cellphone now is exactly the same if he is across the street or across the country. As recently as 5 years ago I don't think (correct me if I am wrong) every kid had a cellphone - now I would guess 90% do. Why would you expect parents to suddenly change their calling behavior, or their relationship with their child? My big concern is how can we expect my S to suddenly do 100 different things on his own that he has not done on his own up to now, whether it's waking up in the morning, going to bed at night, or reading a book?</p>

<p>This is obviously a hot subject. Some parents are undoubtably over involved, we need to let our children go ...HOWEVER .. the colleges are partly to blame... I think</p>

<p>I was struck , while visiting Ga Tech--they had a display of dorms through the ages... with rules at the time ETC..... that until the 60's /early 70's the colleges has some significant role in providing oversight of kids lives.... thus providing the transitional support that they complain about parent giving-- since they don't . </p>

<p>We all know --I imaigne-- how much kids changed from Freshmen in HS to Sr in HS (and maybe how much we changed) ..the change is also significnat from College Freshman to COllege Sr.... yet most treat them the same --other than the stay in dorm requirement --yet with little oversight in the dorms.</p>

<p>So it isnt just that parents are different, the colleges are different as well</p>

<p>Oh and my son is at a West Point Prep program and we cant hear from him for several weeks -- so I am not helicpotering myself!</p>

<p>my 2c worth also</p>

<p>It would be very interesting to me, and would allow me to learn more from these posts, if people would identify themselves as stay-at-home parents or work-outside-house parents. </p>

<p>I haven't had the luxury of being able to do everything for my D as I work 12 hour days and travel to Asia regularly. So I've been doing the remote parenting thing for a long time. </p>

<p>I assume for us little will change in terms of my involvement once she goes. I call her every day now, to see how she is. It can be a short conversation, or longer if there are issues. When she needs me to show up and actually do something she tells me. And, when I know something is happening that might require some extra planning, I bring it up with her and we set time aside to do it. She teases me mercilessly for the fact that I go on her school's website and know when Spirit Week is coming up.</p>

<p>It sounds very professional - it's not. It's very mom and daughterish, complete with pouting and eye-rolling and my getting exasperated and both of us saying I love you honey I love you too mom.</p>

<p>Anyway, I can imagine that if I had stayed home, I would have remained very involved in the moment-to-moment and this would be a more difficult time in terms of putting a new process in place. So this is a request for a new field in the data model here - SAH or WOH.</p>

<p>as a college student myself, i just wanted to say that maybe some parents are offended by being told to back off and maybe some agree that it's good advice, but the parents aren't the most important people in this picture, it's the kids who are going to college. and the kids deserve to be allowed a chance to try to live independently and yes, even screw up sometimes without all that parental guidance. </p>

<p>NJres, this might surprise you, but your son WILL manage to figure out how to wake up, go to sleep, read a book, even spend money and do LAUNDRY on his own.</p>

<p>firsttimemom, you might want to help your kids and lead them by the hand, but maybe THEY don't want you to. i mean, how much fun is life if someone else is helping you every step of the way and doing it for you? the most fun is when you try things for yourself. and not every college student experiences those four years as alcohol-intoxicated as you seem to think.</p>

<p>I have nothing against emails, I email my father now and then (my mother hasn't figured out AIM yet), and email both parents more regularly. Communication is FINE, as often as you feel like it, to keep each other updated on what's new and exciting in your lifes. It's when you abuse that communication and use it to tell your child what they should do or what they should be doing differently, when you try to solve problems for them that they could probably manage fine with when left to their own devices. I mean, if you don't want to let them try the whole "living on their own thing" why let them go to college in the first place?</p>

<p>firsttimemom I am in total agreement with you- ie: pay and shut-up.
I would never dream of arriving weekly or even semi annually with a home cooked meal, but if that is what is important to that family I don't see the harm in it. Perhaps the student actually wants it. If the student asked the parent not to do this bcs the ride is ridiculously long, or the student finds it uncomfortable to have daddy delivering food, that is different. The student may have dietary restrictions that make the student want it bcs dorm eating is limited. Perhaps there are ethnic foods that the student really misses. I do think it is a little unusual for parents to go through these lengths, but why does an administator even know about it? When I went to college nobody would have known or cared. In fact my roomates parents were there fairly frequently for visiting and short weekend vacations. Nobody interfered and roomate grew into a wonderful functioning adult and mother. How is delivering food different from the commuter who is home DAILY? How is calling or emailing different from the commuter studentwho has daily access to mom and dad? Perhaps it is bcs parents may find out residential problems creating difficulties for housing...
Perhaps bcs parents may find out before the school does about other issues. I have a friend who' s D was ill and she was afraid to tell anyone. She called mom, and mom had to call for assistance and it was not during regular infirmary hours. D would not have sought needed help and she is very outgoing and intelligent. She was a first semester freshman and was uncomfortable getting medical attention in her dorm room.
I think negotiation btn. parent and young adult belongs btn. them, and if young adult should negotiate everything solo, then they can negotiate their new adult relationship with their parents minus intererence of others who know little about the family history, or the young adult. Just my 2 cents....</p>

For myself (just FYI), I only "take offense" when/if COLLEGE ADMINISTRATORS inappropriately hover, helicopter, & talk down to parents, which they have been known to do. It would seem that "instruction" or "advice" is only necessary as situations come up (rather than in general or delivered en masse), and I would doubt that such situations would include the majority of parents of late adolescents. A lack of judgment is just not what I observe about other parents of entering freshmen. However, many college administrators get some kind of ego-charge out of trying to "parent" parents.</p>

<p>Most of us really do instinctively respond to & accept the independence of our sons & daughters. For those parents who struggle with that, there are books & such that are available. Some of us even wish our 18-yr-olds would be a little <em>more</em> independent when it comes to accepting the <em>responsibilities</em> (& implied initiative) of that milestone equally with the privileges that are so eagerly embraced.</p>

<p>Alumother, I understand the distinction you're making, but I honestly don't see much of a difference between the 2 categories. I know many SAH Moms who are clueless & under-involved -- many with anorexic daughters, BTW--, as well as many WOH Moms who have close & involved contact with their teen S's & D's.</p>

<p>Another thought, perhaps those hovering parents would have had commuting students if they were not allowed to contact their S or D. </p>

<p>Perhaps they are allowing their S or D to grow by allowing them to move out while checking in periodically. I just thought of this from another perspective ( not mine, but the thoughts of other parents perhaps).</p>

<p>epiphany - I don't think that SAH parents vs. WOH parents are more or less involved. My hypothesis is that WOH parents, of the highly involved type (i.e. I nursed kids way longer than the cultural norm, showed other symptoms of "attached" parenting :)), when forced to be apart from the children for long periods of time, figure out a way to remain involved without having to drive to school with meals....</p>

<p>I admit I assume most highly involved parents, once college actually happens, will figure out their own way to remain involved without being maniacal about it.</p>

<p>I've been both WOH and SAH as well as WASchool-so-that-our-schedules-meshed-best over the years. </p>

<p>My children have gotten themselves up, dressed and out of the house without assistance since 7th grade (alarm clock worked great). They've not been hammered about homework or assignments since about 6th grade. Hubs and I have helped when asked, sometimes right through the angry/fearful/tearfuls. The college bound kid has been doing his own laundry now for about 6 months....has held a steady after school job for a year...has had my old car for a year and a half with only one fenderbender and partial payment for upkeep including paying own insurance and 1/2 new clutch and new shocks and all gas and oil..... </p>

<p>I don't think I'll be helicoptering, however my own experience was the opposite, tipping towards the abandonment side of the mountain. So I suppose, naturally, if I err, it will be in the non-abandonment (ok you can call it overinvolved) direction. </p>

<p>Nah, I was gonna write about some tough exp's I had in college where the parents (I love my folks but they erred in the non=involved direction) should have / could have stepped in some more .... but I'll focus on repeating the two points that:</p>

<p>1)----> There was a shift in college society in the 60's and the 70's, and these helicoptery parents are the ones who were the students then. They're sending their kids to school now. Schools might do well to look carefully at the changes over the last generation and consider that perhaps they, too, may have to reexamine practices. There may be a reason why parents feel the need to helicopter.</p>

<p>2)----> There was also a shift in the last generation towards family dispersal. I know I am not the only hippydippy searching for more community ... perhaps what is perceived as helicoptering is a symptom of families trying to do things a different way these days. </p>

<p>I am saying families might be trying to do things differently.</p>

<p>Lord knows, we did that when we were the college kids - here we go again, college administrators ---- the onslaught of the hippy generation except now we are the parents. </p>

<p>I guess you could say, POWER TO THE PEOPLE right on!</p>


<p>Peace out.</p>

<p>I was just reminded of a story told on the WEst Point Tour. Apparently Douglass McArthurs Mother, moved into a house that allowed her to watch her sons dorm room, night and day. The location would now be on the grounds of WEst Point.... but --maybe it is arguable whether he turned out ok -- but the phenomenon of 'helicpoter parents isnt new. </p>

<p>Also, some of my great grand parents moved to Norman Oklahoma to allow there children to live at home and go to college....</p>

<p>zxc123 ROFL - haha the only reason I would be moving to the state where my kiddo attends a state univ - would be to get IN-state tuition - and maybe to have a few more visits from my kiddo once in a while than we are able to manage now LOL. FYI - she is far from home and only gets home about/maybe 1x a semester and the holidays - summers are spent elsewhere working - not at home - so our face to face time is very limited.</p>

<p>As far as helicoper parenting - when our kiddos leave for college - I have no problem with some things - but the student needs to take responsibility of academic issues and progress - I will manage the financial ones - but I sure won't be calling any prof if my kiddo is having a problem - and I sure won't show up at the dorm if there is a roomy issue - I WILL be there to listen tho - and be supportive - but I won't DO it. We all had to learn lifes lessons ourselves - it is now their time to go thru the maze. Of course - there are exceptions - we, as parents - do help out with some of the things that the kiddo would have NO clue how to deal with - ex - our insurance company, legal issues, car problems, etc..... but being far away - we can only do soooo much also. </p>

<p>OOOO ya - i DO send my kiddo some food stuff - that she loves - and can't get where she is - but I refuse to deliver it ROFL.</p>

<p>I think part of the emphasis really is that college administrators simply don't want the parents to contact them or students about the issues they think the students should be working out. I think they think the other sorts of "helicoptering" are symptomatic of or will lead to this. Surely they don't think we should not be in contact with our kids! That is utterly ridiculous. Of course, I haven't figured out how it is going to work out with my S1; he does not like to email, and prefers the phone. . . I will hesitate to call him to initiate a conversation as I have found that, with my daughter, (already graduated and in grad school) I never call at a really convenient time. She, however, loves email. I am hoping S1 will in fact call me, as he often does now when I am at work or he is away from home.</p>

<p>In the four years DD was at Swarthmore, I called the college only one time, and that was just before she had to be hospitalized for a chronic illness; I was merely checking to see what the options were as it was near the end of her senior year. I thought the teacher in question was initially not too pleased to hear from me, but I have absolutely no regrets that I let him know of my concerns; she did in fact graduate on time after completing ALL of her work, and he asked to meet me at graduation, so there was ultimately real concern there on his part. Other colleges might not have reacted as openly, I suspect. </p>

<p>An aside,</p>

<p>Marite, you are so wonderfully well read! Thanks for all the links you share!</p>


<p>Loved your post . . .I send food, too. USPS.</p>

<p>I think the issue is knowing where to draw the line. That's all. Good fences make good neighbors - it's when the parents (or less frequently administrators) step over that there gets to be a problem.</p>

<p>It's mainly the first time parents and their sense of entitlement - as if society owes them something becuase their son or daughter goes to college or attends college X or Y.</p>

<p>It's the difference between support and spoiling, advising and nagging.</p>

<p>Well - when move-in day arrived for our DS - our first born - in the middle of a hurricane BTW - and off we trucked our DS several states away - yes, to a private LAC with a great rep and many many very wealthy students - of which we were definitely NOT - we arrive in our family minivan amongst all the BMW's and new SUVs etc...... We procede to follow the instructions - to the letter mind you - that were provided by the freshman advisor - who greeted every single student - BY NAME - at the end of the follow-thy-leader process to get registered at the school and to get the dorm keys. We were handed a schedule of events - for parents and some with our DS - the last of which was a convocation in the chapel - with an address by the schools president.</p>

<p>The presentation was great - very light hearted and informal - lots more information was provided to us parents - parents and students were required to attend together. The BEST and funniest thing we heard tho was pretty surprising...................we were told - and with NO exceptions - as parents - let your kids GO.......let your kids GROW....... and OOOOO we don't want to see you til parents weekend!!!!!!! Stay away!!!!! - you can call and you can mail - but DO NOT show your face on my campus - let them adjust - if they need to see you - for some god-awful reason - we will be happy to make arrangements - but PLEASE - go on vacation or something - without them - but please know that all the resources and support they will need are HERE (on campus) - in one form or another. Now - it has been nice to meet you all - now GO HOME - students - to your dorms please.</p>

<p>Tho we all actually chuckled at his presentation - I am very sure there were some parents who were cringing and sending daggers towards the schools president. And that is how we left our DS at college ROFL.............. tho the phone bill went up quite a bit that month - and the mailman was kept very busy - we did survive quite nicely - ALL of us.</p>

<p>I have to admit that the Presidents approach was a bit out there - but very effective also - and we really got the feeling that our DS was in a good place and that we really didn't have to worry as much as we had thought we would.
One thing I do have to say tho is - it really worked - the kids adjusted really well - tho 1 student did end up going home - he was only 16 and very immature - but all in all - the advise was well taken by most.</p>

<p>Parents weekend was well worth the wait - I must say - it was chock full of student/parent stuff - of all shapes and sizes - and was a fantastic weekend for all of us - every year there after also. We would not even consider missing that special weekend with our DS - great memories!!!!</p>

<p>As a new parent leaving their first born in the hands of a nutsy school president - would I do it again??? YOU BET I WOULD - as hard as it was to see my DS walk into that dorm that day - I would not change a thing. And I will NEVER forget that very first day....................</p>

<p>(sorry - kinda sorta a bit off topic, but......... ooo well LOL)</p>