Expat Magazine

Helicopter Parents - Guess Who the Enablers Are?

By Expatmum @tonihargis
You've probably heard the term "helicopter parents"by now - parents who literally hover over their children, taking care of their every need, doing their school projects for with them, and intervening whenever there's a problem. There are so many articles about the whole phenomenon (and the backlash) a quick Google on it will fill you in.
College professors in particular, have a lot to say about these parents. Apparently the term was coined by them as they experienced parents becoming far more involved in the application and admissions process than ever before. They (the profs) tell of parents sleeping on the floor outside the dorm room to make sure the student is settling in OK, and phoning up to ask why their child got a B on a paper instead of an A. Heck, out in the corporate world, we're even hearing about parents wanting to attend interviews with their offspring, and intervening when an appraisal wasn't as glowing as they had anticipated.
As the parent of a freshman (first year) who's currently dealing with a minor issue, it's hard not to pick the phone up, shout loudly and "sort it out", or worse, phone the parent of the other student. I will refrain. I think.
However, as someone new to the whole college thing, I cannot believe how much the parents are involved whether they want to be or not. Of course, most of this is because the colleges are always fund-raising, so we get invited to breakfasts, lunches, meetings etc, all in the attempt to get us to write a check/cheque to the scholarship or endowment fund. I know the game.
What I wasn't quite prepared for was the expectation of an on-going role in my adult daughter's college life. After all, it was made perfectly plain at the beginning that although we are financially responsible for her college education, we can't see her grades unless she signs a form allowing it. (I know. Bloody cheek. She signed.)  Last week, I received a form in the mail encouraging me to sign up to send her a "care package" during finals week, because students who don't receive a care package might feel bad! There's a whole industry around this, called - wait for it - Gift University! Here's another one with the even more ridiculous name of My Favorite Student! (Since I know you're reading this Q, this isn't to say I won't be sending a package, but it won't be this impersonal rubbish.)
In the past couple of weeks I have received several e-mails about campus activities, then yesterday I received an one informing me of some up-coming careers event, and asking me to forward the e-mail to my student. I clicked on the link, out of interest, and found that I wasn't allowed to see it because I don't have a password. So wait? You are literally sending me an e-mail to forward to my kid, even tho' she has a college e-mail account and you have the address?
Colleges. I'm calling you out. Don't complain about helicopter parents and then turn around and bombard us with news about campus life. You're supposed to be weaning parents and their adult children off each other.

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