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Barbara F. Meltz writes the Globe's Child Caring column. She is author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes, Understanding How Your Children See the World," and a frequent speaker to parent groups. Join her chat on the first and third Monday of the month at noon.
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« If you can't have the patience of a preschool teacher, you can at least have the same strategies | Main | There's more to those squiggles than you think »

Monday, October 15, 2007

Parents, keep your helicopters on the ground!

Illustration, Zohar Lazar, Bostonia Magazine

By now, the phrase "helicopter parent" is pretty widely understood as any parent who is hovering, hovering, ever ready -- and able; the able piece is important -- to swoop in out of the sky at a moment's notice to do...whatever. Is this a good or bad thing?

When it comes to our college students, this excerpt in an article in my alma mater's alumni magazine, "Bostonia," really nails it. Jessica Ullian writes:

"Wayne Snyder, the associate dean for students in the College of Arts and Sciences, remembers trying to explain to a concerned father that the University prefers to work with students directly to resolve academic issues. "He kept saying, 'No, no, she's just a child.' Snyder says. A BU junior tells of a friend's mother who rsearched professors' areas of expertise and then created fifteen possible class schedules for her daughter's freshman year."

Can we all agree that this dad and mom are both dead wrong? If you're a parent who gives your freshman a wake-up call every morning, can we agree to wonder, "When is this kid gonna take responsibility for himself?" How about agreeing that disinfecting bathrooms in your child's residence hall is not OK? Full disclosure: I thought really seriously about doing that at my son's fraternity.

The article concludes that collges around the country are adjusting to this helicopter era by building a more collaborative relationship with parents long before move-in day. But what about the next step, when these children become employees? Are parents hovering on the job, too? Uh oh. The article cites one survey that says 41 percent of parents gathered information on prospective employers for their children.

Posted by Barbara Meltz at 03:46 PM
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