Tag Archives: helicopter parents

Parents Talk: Winter Break Controversy ’12/’13

We’re now four weeks into break with one left to go. As a senior back on campus, I can tell you it seems a lot of people have found excuses to come back early. Is break too long, or does it offer the optimal amount of time to get a job, an internship, work on one’s thesis, or do something else productive? Regardless of how you feel, your parents sure have opinions. Some gems from the “parents_talk” listserv:

“At this moment we Californians are blessed with a relaxing, sunny (as in no snow) riotous (bumpy backroad stand-up-in-the-jeep) vacation with our daughter who is also preparing for her upcoming “internship” when we return to the Bay Area. It couldn’t be sweeter. That said, in speaking to her about the viewpoints expressed here, she’d gladly “trade” several winter break days for a couple of extended weekends with no classes to get on top of the voluminous workload at school…just because she loves it so much!!” – P’15

“If you live in a rural college town that is also dormant for part of Wes’s break, there are no museums open. Many local businesses also close. The local college kids sew up any internships, via long-standing program relationships. Sleeping, movies, reading, and walks are fine for a few weeks, as is visiting, but eventually sibs and high school friends head back to school. And the Wes kid – is – still – on – break. It’s like waiting for Godot.” – P’15

“My daughter works SO hard on her double majors at Wes that she both needs and benefits from the downtime over winter break. I know she is going back re-charged and ready to give her best for the spring semester and have no problem with the well deserved rest.” – P’?

“The time away has afforded my son the opportunity to experience unique travel and service programs related to his life and learning at Wes. He is currently in Africa, and is working with the people in rural areas, as well as with the small businesses looking to launch successful entrepreneurial ventures. I think this is an important part of his learning experience.” – P’14

Also of note, Roth mentioned “thinking now about new January programs” in his latest blog post. Read past the jump for more thoughts from our parents. Also, as always, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Wesleyan: No Parents Allowed, Since 1831

At around 6:00 next Wednesday, members of Wesleyan’s newly arrived Class of 2014 will meet, shepherded by RAs and Orientation Leaders, on the CFA Green for the traditional barbecue welcome. Left in the dust, their parents will be forced to move on and move out—not necessarily in that order. So goes Operation Separation at Wes: swift and painless.

Not so at other schools. A New York Times cover story this week details the myriad ways in which college orientation schedules have learned to deal with a generation of doting helicopter parents who seemingly refuse to leave—from Morehouse College’s formal “Parting Ceremony” to Princeton’s blunt “students only” designation:

As the latest wave of superinvolved parents delivers its children to college, institutions are building into the day, normally one of high emotion, activities meant to punctuate and speed the separation. It is part of an increasingly complex process, in the age of Skype and twice-daily texts home, in which colleges are urging “Velcro parents” to back off so students can develop independence. . . .

Some undergraduate officials see in parents’ separation anxieties evidence of the excesses of modern child-rearing. “A good deal of it has to do with the evolution of overinvolvement in our students’ lives,” said Mr. Dougharty of Grinnell. “These are the baby-on-board parents, highly invested in their students’ success. They do a lot of living vicariously, and this is one manifestation of that.”

Do (most) parents know instinctively when to peace the hell out? Or does Generation Helicopter really need a more formal, if occasionally ridiculous, dismissal? Does Wes do it right? Discuss and share move-in day horror stories in the comments.

President Roth writes a college essay; is everybody’s daddy

roth2The Wall Street Journal asked some university presidents to write essays answering one of the admission application questions for their schools.

Our own Michael Roth was among them, answering the question “Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence“.

He wrote about his older brother, who died at the age of 5 before Roth was born. Read the essay here.

Roth also wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe last week about how the campus crisis in the wake of last month’s shooting brought out the helicopter parent in him.

[Thanks to Leslie Wentworth for the tip.]

Tenured Radical on Helicopter Parents

Professor Claire Potter has a great entry about helicopter parents up at Tenured Radical:

Yesterday several of us were reminiscing about being dropped off at college. The big topic was: “How did you get them to leave?” — them, of course, being parents. Not everyone, of course, had this problem. Parents used to the boarding school routine knew what other parents did not: that it was only a precious nine weeks to Thanksgiving; they literally dropped their offspring on the curb with a stereo, a typewriter and a duffel bag, and gunned it out of there. Several of my friends who came East (or went West) to school remember just being put on a plane with a couple suitcases. My parents, however, made the ritual drive to Oligarch. When it looked like my mother was about to start ironing my socks in a strategic ploy to not return home without me, my father said brightly, “I could really use an ice cream!” and spirited everyone onto the street. After that, wrapping Mom in duct tape and putting her in the trunk was a cinch. And I was free! Good old Dad.

It’s more difficult to get rid of parents in a timely way now. Administrators in charge of this crucial life transition have responded to parental hovering by creating formal, structured activities for the (soon to be) bereft grown-ups so that there can be an equally formal transition to the moment they are asked by other grown-ups, firmly but politely, to leave. Now, please. This means that being dropped off at college is now at least a two-day event, if not longer, where the moment between meeting your roommates and one of them saying happily, “Who wants to get high?” has been prolonged indefinitely. […]

Can you relate? Read more at her blog.

Helicopter the Shit Out of Your Kids

Helicopter parents can now reach new heights of invasiveness with a growing trend of making reports of students’ every move available for viewing online by parents:

With some programs, not only is a student’s grade recalculated with every quiz, but parents can monitor the daily fluctuations of their child’s class ranking. The availability of so much up-to-the-minute information about a naturally evasive teenager can be intoxicating: one Kansas parent compared watching PowerSchool to tracking the stock market.

Clearly there’s some useful potential here, but it sounds like that can easily devolve into a massive time-sucker, where parents can procrastinate the arduous task of raising children by obsessively poring over the minutiae of their kid’s daily existence.

Is the next generation of college students going to have been raised on this kind of thing? Will they still have personalities?

NYTimes: I Know What You Did Last Math Class

Helicopter Parents Use Facebook to F-Up Lives

I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of helicopter parents. Not ever, ever. But I reported on the the crazy parents posting about googling their kids’ roommates a few weeks ago and how weird it sounded.

Well, ABC reported today about a literally batshit mother who printed out 44 pages of her daughter’s roommate facebook file to make the case that the girl was just unsuitable as a roommate.

Students say it’s good to know a roommate before actually meeting the person. And now, even curious parents are sneaking peaks at profiles.

“I was excited,” said Kristin Mueller, the parent of a college freshman. “I was anxious to find out more about her new roommate.”

But it’s not always love at first surf for parents.

“What I saw on Facebook was a lot of alcoholic beverages in the background, a lot of liquor bottles, beer bottles, kind of lewd behavior,” Mueller said.

Mueller took action by helping her daughter file a formal request to the college’s housing office demanding a change. She isn’t the first parent to do so.

Across the country college administrators said they are getting more pleas than ever from Facebook frazzled parents.

“They call based on the information that they see on Facebook and they say that their son or their daughter can’t possibly live with that person,” said Deb DiCaprio, Marist College’s dean of students.

Syracuse University has formulated a response to such a request.

“Our response to that is, we do not move students. We do not discriminate at all,” said Syracuse University housing director Robin Berkowtiz-Smith.


But Mueller was determined to switch her daughter’s assignment, even when her initial request was denied. She printed out 44 pages from the prospective roommate’s Facebook profiles and took them to the university. The school finally granted a change.

“Transferring her into a quiet study dorm was best,” Mueller said. “It’s going to make her more comfortable, and I know I am going to be more comfortable.”

But ABC News parenting contributor Anne Pleshette Murphy said parents should be careful when using online profiles to judge roommates.

“It’s a mixed bag, and like most things it all depends on how you use it,” Murphy said. “On one hand, Facebook is a great tool that wasn’t available to me or even my daughter, who’s now a senior in college. It can be a way for your college-bound child to get to know their roommate, taking some of the anxiety out of moving out and going to school.”

Murphy said people should not judge the page by its content.

“There’s a lot of boasting that goes on, and some kids use the page to point fun at themselves, or lampoon the whole idea of Facebook,” she said. “A dangerously subversive kid is not going to be on Facebook. You have to take everything with a grain of salt.”

A good way to prove this is to look at your child’s page to see whether it paints an accurate picture, Murphy said.

“Most likely, you’ll find that there are more than a few liberties,” she said.

Some parents are even looking up school organizations, Murphy said.

“Parents are even Facebooking and Googling fraternities and sororities and complaining when their child doesn’t get a bid, and so on,” she said.

But she said parents should learn to give their children some room.

“As much as I understand the impulse that drives parents to do this, there is an element of ‘helicopter parenting’ here,” she said. “These parents have to face the fact that their child is leaving home and they have to let go. Instead of being overprotective, parents should bolster their child’s confidence by saying, ‘Look, I believe in you and I think you can handle living with someone with different values.'”

Avoiding ‘Financial Aid’ Students

Murphy said she learned some parents are asking colleges to weed out roommates by code.

“One of the most disturbing things I heard from college housing administrators is the code some parents use when asking to switch their child’s roommate. They don’t want a ‘financial aid’ student, which may be code for a student of a different race or economic background,” she said.

“Parents must remember that one of the most important things about the college experience is the opportunity to meet new people, from different backgrounds. Facebook information should not be used as a veil for prejudice and discrimination.”

WTF. Seriously, what the fuck. I have nothing substantial to say about this except what the fuck. Screening for finaid kids?! Printing out 44 pages of facebook profile? Holy shit! Who the fuck are these people?