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

Completely agree about parent over involvement (in HS too by the way). We’ve always taught our kids to learn how to deal with things. They don’t always get it, but they get better at it with more practice.

The move in thing really gets me. The colleges have parent programming that is very much overkill in my opinion. It’s somewhat ironic because they gather parents on campus and lecture them on letting their kids figure it out for themselves. They speak about the whole community (including parents) when it’s really just about your kid.

I know of parents who gain access to the kid’s college account and frequently check in on grades and events, etc. We typically handled all that with just asking the simple question, “How are classes going?” If grades weren’t where they needed to be, would follow up with “Anything you can do about that like talking to the prof, getting help. You’ll figure it out.”

At the end of the day, this is about them. Can’t stand the hovering. And I don’t think the kids like it either. S would have know part of that. D is a freshmen and already thinks she knows everything so trying to get involved wouldn’t go well for either of us. In her case the “figure it out” attitude has worked well already. She had two ER instances her first semester on campus. One injury, one illness. Out of state. not much we could do. She called and told us what was going on. Our health insurance was pretty lousy out of state and told her she needed to go to either an ER or Urgent care type center. She kept on hemming and hawing “too busy, blah blah blah.” We eventually said, “look you called us. you need medical care to get better, here’s where our coverage will pay, go take care of it.” Was good to have her text me later asking me all kinds of Dr info as they needed that to check her in. Guess she figured it out.


You are being a dinosaur. I think each family should decide how the transition should be. What works for one student or family might not work another.:woman_shrugging: I don’t know why it’s your concern. College is a big step and accomplishment. Those families celebrating by making a trip out of it probably don’t care if others are eye-rolling with disapproval.


I don’t see how helping a kid unpack is infantilizing. My parents helped me unpack and decorate decades ago. I did the same for my kid. That said, I don’t think parents should ever contact admin/profs unless there are extreme circumstances (very rare). I helped my DD talk through what she should do when issues arose, but I never got involved. I’ve spoken out numerous times on her college’s FB parent group page when parents wanted to and/or contacted admin/profs. Extremely hands off parents might consider me a helicopter parent and that’s their right and I feel no need to defend my parenting choices. I do think it’s amusing that some of the judgiest parents seem to be the ones who complain the loudest that their kids don’t communicate with them much. Balance is everything.


I didn’t mean to say I’d do any of that for him (interacting w professors etc.), I simply think that calling the office (which I’ve already done and got the relevant info he needs) is not an overreach.

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Completely agree! Our family would make a vacation out of taking our kids to college going days before to explore the town, eat at great restaurants and do the Target and Bed Bath & Beyond runs. Many of my kids friends did the same. There were few other kids there without their own parents but kids would usually go out to dinner with groups of parents and then go to parties without parents at night. I loved helping them unpack and get organized and when both moved into places on their own they reported on how many of my techniques they adopted.

One person I know who was mystified by the “ new normal” (like the OP) and refused to do any of this. We felt sorry for her kid who sat alone in her dorm room while everyone else was having family time. The kids had the entire rest of the year to be on their own. They like us treasure the memories of the move ins.

But never once did I contact any professor and only contacted an administrator to deal with a purely parent related issue ( the need for handicapped seating for a grandparent at graduation…wasn’t going g to have a kid in the middle of finals deal with that )


To be clear on my post, completely agree with helping them move in and set up. Make the Target run, etc. Just think after that, parents should leave (take them to lunch, give them a hug, and split) and let the kids get immersed in meeting new kids, learning their surroundings. They’ll all handle it their own way. We’d check in from time to time and just ask “how’s it going”. He would tell us what he wanted us to know. Worked out great.


I am similar to @rickle1 in that I don’t help my kids make any of their schedules. That is what their advisors are for! They are in different fields from me/H, so we won’t be of much help. I don’t know the names of any professors, or the exact courses they are taking. I know that they are taking a coding class, an economics class, etc. They may tell me the full name at some point, but there’s no way I could remember. We do text/call regularly, and they usually tell me about something going on in their classes. Usually, I hear about the bad/hard classes the most! But from time to time, they also send me papers and projects that they are proud of.

They also like to ask me advice, sometimes too much. I never asked/ask my parents for anything, so it is strange to me. I have to remind myself that they are just using me as a sounding board, not necessarily to jump in. “Fixing things” is my natural reaction, so it can be tough. But in general, I love the relationship we have with our kids.

I barely know who their teachers are in middle or high school so I for sure don’t pay attention to their courses in college. Granted, my oldest does take some classes now that are in my field a bit so we may discuss which is kind of cool. I’ve always been told I’m a pretty free-range parent since my kids were little. I am however a huge cheerleader for them and annoyingly attend everything. :slight_smile: I’m not going to pay attention much on how to sign up for classes but I do tend to remember deadline dates for the big stuff and send out reminders. Like, hey, tuition is due in 5 days, make sure you send that in. :slight_smile:
And my approach to college will be different based on the kid. Let other parents judge away. I’m damn proud my kid who had been in special ed since he was 3 and barely passed high school is now off at college, living away from home, taking classes and working part time and about 80% financially independent. It may be babysteps for some but its huge for us!


I can admit that my first reaction to this post was to feel defensive, but I sat with it a minute a decided that’s silly- we do what works for our family for the reasons that work for our family, and it really shouldn’t matter at all to anyone else. I don’t judge people for how they handle it, on both sides of the spectrum from us, so I figure we can do what we like. No dig on your post at all- hate on what you like… but we are good with doing what you think is over the top or unnecessary, because obviously we don’t see it that way at all.


S chose my field (always had an interest in it). I didn’t ask him any questions re specific course content but occasionally he would text or call me to tell me about something he was working on. I thought that was very cool. I also thought, there is NO WAY I could have done any of that advanced valuation/ modeling work when I was in school. These kids get to work on really neat stuff. Lots more group projects than I had which I think is very good as that’s what they’ll face in the workplace.


Of course it isn’t overreach. But all three of my kids’ colleges’ disability offices, including the one for the kid with type1 and seizure disorder (and other stuff) would not talk to me. I was surprised but we coped. In general, it was seen as a bit of an aberration to talk to deans when crises happened too but they appreciated it, maybe even more because they did not hear from me at any other times :slight_smile:

Glad that your kid’s school’s disabilities office will talk to you. That’s great. But they don’t do much in my experience!

The CGM’s and Follow program sure would have helped me with my worries.

On the more general topic, I think it’s great if families want to accompany the new college student. Ten years ago, every school had a presentation for parents right after arrival basically telling us to get lost:) It sounds like that has changed.


This reads like “people tell me that…”.

Is this a single anecdote or something substantial? What is “the college” that is inviting ‘letters of introduction”? How many are doing this that makes you believe this is “normal”? I’m usually skeptical of something so vague.

I saw none of this dropping my daughter off.

But fwiw, I have no issues with families doing what they choose to do. None of my business. I’m not that judgemental.


I have only called my son once recently based on his app because he was in the 40s with two arrows down and I was afraid maybe he was already disabled at that point, but it is a real comfort to have the technology. He’s luckily been managing his diabetes away at boarding school for 4 years very well, so I just try to do the annoying stuff like ordering insulin and supplies. This disease is a real time suck, as you know!

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Apparently my father-in-law biked himself 260 miles to college-- with his belongings in his backpack. My husband flew and then train, 3100 miles to college, alone. Our daughter will fly 3000 miles with both of us and her sister (along for college tours, combining trips). So yes time have changed. But we will move her in, say goodbye and leave. The college is already communicating only with her and insists parents leave by a certain time on move in day. (There is a gathering for parents off campus after move in, privately organized.)


My husband and I are taking our son to college drop off and participating in any events they do for parents. The school doesn’t have a parents weekend, so this is it. I also know what it feels like to be alone while everyone else has parents there (my single mom couldn’t afford to take me to school, in fact the first time she step foot on campus was graduation). I feel extremely lucky that I have the ability to drop my kid off and get the see the campus and area.


My mom dropped my off in front of my dorm on move in day, and never came back to campus until my graduation day. It went without saying that I was responsible for finding rides home for breaks & holidays. Back in the time of dinosaurs and landline phones (circa 1985), a month could go by before we spoke and that was only if I called her.

My oldest is an old soul, and as a HS senior was a 55 year old in an 18 year old’s body. She did everything herself - from choosing colleges, scheduling visits, filing out the applications, finding a dorm/roommate, picking a major & changing it, etc., etc. I never needed to micromanage or nag her - she had her own goals and knew how to get there. Of course I moved her in and helped her set up and then took my cue when it was time for me to leave. She went to college 2.5 hours away and we did go up there quite a bit to visit her because she liked to see us (sometimes just a day trip for lunch or dinner). It didn’t seem unusual because lots of parents seemed to visit often, many being alumni themselves. I don’t consider that “helicopter-y” because she still managed her life at college on her own. I never knew her grades or anything too specific about her classes. We gave her four years to graduate with a degree on her own terms, and she did.

My younger D is leaving for college in August and has a different personality. I had to handhold and guide her through the process a little bit (plus, I felt like I gained so much knowledge from already having one child go through it). She is my last child to leave home and yes, I am going to milk it - from making packing lists, to planning dorm decor, to making plans for which football games to go to. My husband teases me about which one of us is actually going to college! I plant to move her in and help set up as I did for my older D and then take my cue to leave. After that, it’s up to her to do what she needs to do. She have four years to graduate with a degree, just like her sister - and I’ll be planning to visit as much as she’ll have me (which I suspect will be less often than her sister).

I’m in the do what’s right for YOUR family camp. My husband drove himself to college move in, so he’s more inclined to be hands-off, but I was always a little sad that my parents never came to visit.


I have to say I am also surprised about the medical stuff. My D takes a $2000 medication every two weeks and wont be 18 yet when school starts so I would be pretty angry if the school wasn’t as wonderful and accommodating as they have been to let me work with them to get everything arranged. But, once it is all set I don’t plan to be involved anymore and will let him handle it. We are also planning a family trip for the 10 hour trip to school but only 1 of us will go to the actual drop off and we will only stay as long as it is required. I can’t imagine this year any schools allowing any more than that.

Life lessons: people who are judgemental about something often are insecure about that very thing.

Pick your battles.

Why get upset about things people do that don’t affect you? You won’t change their behavior, and the only one getting upset is you. That’s not a good feeling.


Not to derail the thread but curious how the school was helpful with the medication.

I’m a bit in the middle here. In high school we had to do a brag sheet for the GC on our kids in Naviance. The kids did one too. They used them for the recommendation letters because honestly in a very large suburban high school they did not know the kids at all. They gave us a list of questions they wanted us to talk about to help them. I think doing that in college would have been very strange for me! I can’t even imagine it!

As far as drop off. First year we drove the 10 hours. I was not going to drop off and drive 10 hours back the same day. We needed to drive to help transport a few large items and then buy things he wanted to get him started. We had a good plan. We got an early move in so we went the day before. His roommate wasn’t moving in until the next day and the dorm wasn’t full until then. We and his sister helped him move in and left him for a few hours to check in our hotel. then we met him to go to the grocery store, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Target. Helped him carry stuff back and then went to dinner. After that we said goodbye. We thought about meeting for breakfast in the morning before we left for a vacation with his sister but ended up having an emergency and leaving. I didn’t feel that was too much and neither did he. Since then he has handled every move in and out himself. I never talked to a professor or anyone except to say hello at a ceremony we were invited to. Never had access to anything other than financial info.

Every student is different, every situation is different.