This archived article was written by: Mae Goss
They hover. They watch from afar. They swoop down at the first signs of trouble. Often times first-year college students will have parents who aren’t ready to let go. The parents still want a key role in their student’s life and so they become helicopter parents.
When the choice is made to go to college, traditionally the student will move out, thus severing a dependency they had to their parents. This can be hard on both the student and the parents. The students don’t have someone to directly support them and the parents aren’t able to know for a surety that their student is doing what they believe to be right.
Often, students feel like they’re having withdrawls from their families, or just their hometown in general, and so they go home on a regular basis. Diana Phillips, a student at the College of Eastern Utah, said, “I didn’t go home the first month so I could settle in. Then after that, I went home on a every other weekend or so.”
At times it can be hard to deal with parents when they hover so much. They keep poking around, wanting to know everything that goes on, and it can become very aggravating! It’s good to reassure them that everything is going okay, if things indeed are going that way. State concerns there might be, if any, but don’t give them reason to panic. They want to help, so maybe accept a little help, but don’t enable them to be babysitters from a distance.
It might be the student who wants to hover around their parents and they are the one who isn’t ready to let go. In this case, many things can be done to help.
Many students feel homesick and so they thrive off of this new attention, or worry, that their parents are giving them. The thing that needs to be done is the student needs to become involved in on-campus activities. If they become involved, they have less of a chance of dwelling on the overwhelming feelings they will have of being out on their own, and the emptiness they have from being away from home.
Becoming involved will also help them to make new friends and to explore alternate paths in life that they might take. The friends will help to fill the void of where their parents were, not completely, of course, but getting out there and becoming social will help.
Getting to know their roommates better can significantly help as well. They can find a connection to them which makes it easier to feel at home and welcomed in their own dorm.
Parents, keep in touch with your students, bur realize that college helps them to grow and they need this growth. Students, don’t become impatient with your parents. Help them along. They’re going through a tough time, too. Don’t push them away.
The hovering will go on, year after year, but so too will life.