Infantilizing college freshmen? Is this the new (or not so new) normal?

In the case of moving in to a dorm, it is fine if the extended family comes along, as long as one remembers to be respectful of the roommate’s rights and space. For example, having, say 6 members of one’s family in the room while the roommate is trying to move in, is inconsiderate and rude. In this case, perhaps the extended family can take turns (one at a time) to look in the room very briefly and quietly. For all of us to function in a society, we have to share the resources: water; air; land; small dorm rooms; limited move-in time slots.


This I absolutely agree with. My older daughter had a single her freshman year (and went alone this year), but back in high school when we moved her into her semester school she had a triple. My husband and younger daughter went to lunch and came back to see the room once the roommates were settled in and just before we headed out. My younger daughter has requested a single and if she doesn’t get one we will definitely be mindful of the roommate’s wants/needs.


Yeah, too much! With my oldest, there was a parent orientation which I did not sign up for. I dropped off and picked up the following day since it was only 1 1/2 hours away. On move in day, dad and younger sibling came along to help out. We set up, run some errands, went out for something to eat all together and left. With my current Junior, I guess it will depend on how far she ends up, mode of transportation and other logistics.

Our oldest started college this past fall, so there was no way to have any kind of family send off. DH and she went out (only 1 parent allowed), she had to run the Covid protocol gauntlet upon arrival and then there was a 2 hr window to get her stuff into her room before DH had to leave. Most of that time was spent building/setting up and then she was on her own in quarantine.

Despite this, she had a great year, loved her classes, her professors, her roommate, etc. etc. etc. She was able to live through this extraordinary year and be wildly successful.

She is also demanding that both DH and I go this year to school drop off (she wanted her sisters as well but they are busy with their own high school sport commitments and can’t take the time). She wants to show us her dorm room, her campus, she wants us to meet some of her professors. She has already told us where we are taking her and some friends out to dinner before we leave, and she is also making noises that she might drag us to her dining hall for a lunch experience (I am trying to pass on that one).

She has already proven she can handle college on her own. She wants to share this experience with us, and when my college age student wants to do family time - I’m going to always say yes. It doesn’t have anything to do with infantilization.


There is a ton of evidence that over-managing your kids’ lives—including involving yourself in your child’s day-to-day college experience and “snowplowing” the challenges away—is psychologically unhealthy. I don’t tell anyone how to live their lives but I don’t see the harm in discussing that fact here.


Except what is being discussed on this thread are not instances of “snowplowing.” Not even close.


In fact .it is. See references to “helicoptering,” etc.

I find this one of the most interesting elements of the whole thread, because of course it depends on family. My situation was probably very common at the time I started college in the early 80s, and less so now. I’m the youngest of large family, so my older siblings who had been to the same university were a lot better positioned to help me get settled in than my mother was.

She must have visited a few times. I honestly can’t remember. I’d take the Greyhound bus to get home. It was about a 4 hour trip depending on whether it was an express or not.

We weren’t a family that took big trips together. Or that may simply be my perspective as the youngest. More of that probably happened when I was very young. I was certainly not “thrown to the wolves.” I mean, for one thing, I wasn’t the one paying for tuition or board.

I am the father of a smaller family with two kids, the oldest about to start college. We haven’t figured out how we’ll do it, but I would prefer us all to make the trip together. After this pandemic, I am looking for just about any excuse for a trip.

Families that are closer are going to find some of this more important than I do or my son does. I get the feeling that he really wants his space and has been establishing it already as a teen. He might not care if we’re there at all (unless he needs something) so in a sense it’s for us more than him.

The main thing is just to get out of the way when he’s doing “college stuff.” How hard can that be? Most of us already got that message from our kids’ coaches if they did any sports, right?


This made me smile. It’s so human nature and we see it in high school with parenting too. “My” way is right and anyone else’s way that differs is wrong.

In reality, most kids grow up just fine. Most win the birth lottery at least to some extent (love, food, shelter, etc). Some really lose (we feel for them).

For those who go to college one can stick them out on the road to wait for the bus to take them to the train station or enjoy a trip together with the whole family for send off (or anything in between). It’s “right” if it fits the student. It’s wrong if it doesn’t. Know your student. Don’t assume your student is a “mini-me” because they often aren’t. Know them. Ask them. We can do X, Y, or Z. Do you have a preference?

Assuming only one way is correct would be similar to assuming every student should major in X to become Y. While they technically could start that way, and many might be able to finish that way, it’s certainly not as ideal as everyone finding their niche and excelling at it.


Agree 100%!

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This comes from the parents, not the children. College freshmen/transfers are more than willing to make the move with as little parental involvement as possible. I know a lot of other parents who want to do better than their own folks, which in their mind means more involvement with their children’s lives, at the cost of being viewed as overstepping. Some kids also find the extra emotional support comforting, so while I personally don’t understand it, I’m not going to take that away from the parents and students that want/need it.

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