Expat Magazine

Guilted into Being a Caring Parent

By Expatmum @tonihargis
If the letter I received yesterday is anything to go by, it appears paying exorbitant college fees isn't quite enough these days. No. Apparently if I'm to be considered a caring parent, I need to jump on the "care package" bandwagon pronto. 

The letter (from my son's college) reminds me that finals season is upon us, and it's a stressful time for students. That stress, apparently, is compounded for students who don't receive care packages from their parents - and thus an entire industry is born. For the letter is not only hounding me to send the College Boy a care package, it's offering to do it for me. Of course it is. 

For a mere $40, $60 or whatever I want to pay, I can have a box of goodies sent to the College Boy, to alleviate the stress of exams. 

Guilted into being a Caring Parent

Never mind that he comes home every few weeks, empties the pantry and doesn't seem that stressed about exams anyway. 

The thing that gets me, apart from it being a complete money-maker for either the college or the third-party business, is that colleges quite often complain about "helicopter parents". For those not in the know, these are parents who hover over their children, do too much for them and generally don't allow them to be adults. Examples that I have personally heard of are parents who pretty much choose the college the teen will attend (because well, they're paying for it so...), parents who stay at a nearby hotel for the first week of college just in case the student is homesick, and parents who phone campus police if the (female) student isn't in her room at 8pm. There are also tales of parents writing to the professor if the student doesn't get a good enough grade etc. which I can well believe happens. 

But colleges  often don't help cut the apron strings. Not only do I receive reminders about exams, when the ex-Queenager was at college we were inundated with "news" about what was happening on campus and even though she graduated last year, we still receive a monthly college newspaper. 

The biggest irony? Even though colleges keep parents involved, often against our own wishes, we are not allowed to know the students' grades unless said student wants us to. Oh yes. Federal law prevents anyone knowing about a student's records without his/her consent, including the parents who are footing the bill. 

Mixed messages? 

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