Dr. Gotye B. Clingy, Ph.D. of the Institute of Helicopter Parenting tells parents they are right to worry as they pack their children off to college. Dr. Clingy is an expert in the field of Helicopter Parenting and the author of the seminal work: “Grown children and apron strings: Securing long-term ties.”
The Institute is alarmed about the stubbornly persistent (albeit minuscule) percentage of parents whose actions verge on neglectful. These parents drop off their eighteen year old children at university, help them unpack for a couple of hours, tuck some money in their pockets and wave goodbye as they hurry off towards their selfishly anticipated empty nest. In some cases of extreme neglect, children travel on their own to university.
College is a scary place. Strangers live in your child’s hallways. Profs teach classes in new-fangled subjects. Kids are subjected to all manner of indignity: eating non-home-made foods and goodies, doing their own laundry, sharing common living areas including (ew!) bathrooms, studying and problem-solving independently. Is it any wonder that so many young adults move back home after university?
The Institute reports that a growing number of parents have been contacting them to ask what is the appropriate amount of contact with their college children. The response: the more the better. The Institute encourages parents to be part of a hopeful phenomenon — of ‘Buzzing Parents.’ This small, but growing subgroup of the helicopter parent population engages with their child’s environment frequently and in multiple ways. They introduce themselves to the dorm RAs. They decorate their child’s room. They meet their child’s professors to lay out expectations.
The buzzing doesn’t have to stop after orientation week.
-Which young adult doesn’t need mummy to be their morning wake-up call? A side benefit: yours will be the first voice your child hears in the morning.
-Moments of discomfort in a new environment? Check in several times a day. A side benefit: firmly knotted apron strings.
-Who doesn’t occasionally get flustered in the vast dining halls at meal-time? Parents can help by being available on FaceTime. A side benefit: parents can check the contents of your child’s plate and advise them on balanced nutrition.
-Your baby isn’t sure how to answer an essay question? Have him/her send you a screenshot of the question and start researching! Two side benefits: you’ll help your kid’s grades and learn something.
-Don’t think the prof graded your baby fairly? You helped with the paper so you know the grade your baby deserves. Pick up the phone and have a quick word with the prof. A side benefit: a close relationship with your child’s prof that can only be beneficial when your child seeks a reference letter.
Parenting is a life-time
sentence job. Children’s departure for university doesn’t justify parents reclaiming their free time and pursuing their own interests. Dr. Clingy suggests many activities for committed parents: keep on top of your child’s due dates on papers or tests, stay home and be on call the nights before test and assignments (for practical and emotional support), pull off all-nighters editing papers.
In addition to academic support, parents are advised to intervene in social situations. For instance, if your baby has room-mate problems, call said room-mate and set him/her straight. If s/he doesn’t respond, contact his/her parents or the RA. Still not satisfied? Escalate, if need be, to the office of the University President. You pay tuition and are entitled to access. And most importantly, you are earning the title of Buzz Parent.