Attention Helicopter Parents: College Is Not In Your Airspace

The children of helicopter parents are finally off to college. Unfortunately, mom and dad aren't staying home. Colleges and universities are having to deal with the nuisance of overbearing parents keeping constant tabs on their adult kids.

In a way, I understand the plight of the helicopter parent. Raising a kid is expensive. It takes time. It takes determination. For many folks, a child is the most important investment they'll ever make. And just like any other highly leveraged investment, you want to keep tabs on it and make sure it's protected. Thus, the overbearing e-mails to teachers and the windfalls of cash spent on safety features and now, as mentioned in this Washington Post piece, phone calls to college presidents regarding dorm disputes. Yeah, you read that right. Helicopter Mom and Helicopter Dad are still fighting their kids' battles on the collegiate level. 


Amy Joyce, author of the Post article, researched a number of parenting studies and found that there's a big difference between taking an interest in your kid's life (good) and overparenting (bad -- really bad). Adults whose parents had been way too involved in their lives have been shown to have difficulty assimilating in social situations, the office workplace being an example. Predictably, kids with overbearing moms and dads have trouble assuming independence, developing coping mechanisms, and exhibiting the discipline needed to succeed in a collegiate setting. One professor, who had to deal with a mom sitting in on a disciplinary meeting, explained to Joyce that such a relationship between parent and child only breeds helplessness.

So how should a parent afraid of crossing the line prepare to send their kid to college? Joyce recommends a sit-down with your child, addressing them as an equal rather than a subordinate, and discussing the levels of support that would benefit each party the most. Just remember: keeping your college student reliant on you for emotional support will severely hinder their growth. Just as you don't want to ring your investment manager every five minutes to check in on pork belly futures, you really don't want to suffocate your kid. Joyce puts it best:

"It is more than difficult to let go. But saying goodbyes at the dorm and then giving that little bird a push is what will help him or her succeed. That doesn’t mean letting go or not being involved anymore. But hovering and intervening too often doesn’t do students any favors."

Keep reading at The Washington Post

Photo credit: XiXinXing / Shutterstock

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