So, my kids are 4 and 6. Obviously I’m pretty involved in the day-to-day happenings of their lives. But, I work on a college campus. I spend my days working with young adults, helping them learn and hopefully grow up some more. One of my pet peeves is helicopter parents. There are plenty of articles on the Internet either in favor of or against helicopter parents, and for young children I’m not going to voice an opinion on that topic. But, when your child applies to college, then I have a very strong opinion.
Back the hell off and let your kid grow up. Every day I talk to parents and try to help them understand this concept. I get that it’s a new idea to them – that they’ve had unfettered access to all of their child’s information and expect that will continue through college, especially if they are paying the bills. But unless they plan to be their child’s roommate, they aren’t going to be around to do all the work for their kid, and at some point, the student needs to step up and take ownership of their life.
So what does that mean? Well, for starters, it means you need to have your own damn email address. It’s time to stop letting Mommy and/or Daddy maintain all of your electronic communication. It means that if you have a question about your admissions application, or your financial aid, or anything else to do with YOUR college, then YOU should pick up the phone and call someone about it (oh the horror of actually speaking on the phone, I know – it’s a dying art…) It means that after I’ve talked to your father for the 4th time in a day, and each time told him I really need to speak with you, then perhaps you should call me. It means that I will be horrified when your mother shows up on my doorstep to hand your paper into your professor, clearly bound by a professional, and clearly a step that she took and not you.
I’ve worked in a college setting for almost 15 years now (whoa) and I can tell you that the most successful students are not the ones who rely on parents to gather information or fight their battles. The most successful students are the ones who can ask questions on their own. Take responsibility for their own education and bills. Those are the students who won’t end up at home working a minimum wage job when college is over. The students who figure things out on their own are the ones who get jobs and apartments. They find partners, get married and have children. I hope that these are the type of children I raise. I love them and want them to come visit me when I’m old, but I don’t have any desire to continue supporting them once they are adults.