I had a college roommate whose parents were way too involved in his life. Every time he received an assignment, he had to keep his folks up to date with his progress. Every time he went out for the night, he had to tell them where he was going, who he was going with, and when he expected to return. Every time he brought a girl back to the room, I heard a nagging voice say through the darkness, “Don’t forget the condom!” And every time he went to the dining hall, his mother sat next to him, chewed his sandwich, then spat it into his mouth like a baby bird.
Give your kid some space, over-involved parents. Unsurprisingly, watching over your kid’s shoulder for every little thing they do is fucking them up tremendously.
In 2010, psychology professor Neil Montgomery of Keene State College in New Hampshire surveyed 300 college freshmen nationwide and found that students with helicopter parents were less open to new ideas and actions and more vulnerable, anxious, and self-conscious. “[S]tudents who were given responsibility and not constantly monitored by their parents—so-called ‘free rangers’—the effects were reversed,”Montgomery’s study found. A 2011 study by Terri LeMoyne and Tom Buchanan at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga looking at more than 300 students found that students with “hovering” or “helicopter” parents are more likely to be medicated for anxiety and/or depression.
Not only does micro-managing the lives of college students cause serious anxiety and depression by setting the bar impossibly high, it also strips them of the opportunity to learn how to manage themselves, which is what college is all about. Freedom. And balancing the work and play that comes with it.
So, power down your rotors, helicopter parents. Your kid is going to oversleep a 9 a.m. class. He’s going to switch majors. He’s going to get a drinking ticket after asking a cop, “What are you looking at?” The last one might just be me.
But all of those things are better than ruining the best four years of your kid’s life and crippling their chances at a thriving, independent future because you were afraid to let go..
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