Students who graduate from high school are eligible to continue their education by going to college. These students are eighteen years of age (or older) and are adults. For whatever reason, there are now some parents who choose to follow their son or daughter to college.
We have all heard of the phrase “helicopter parenting”. While some will argue that this parenting style provides certain benefits, many others continue to view it as less than ideal. A helicopter parent is one that swoops in and solves his or her child’s problems for them. That’s a great thing to do if your child is a toddler.
Problems arise when parents continue to be overly controlling and overprotective long after their child should be able to solve some of his or her own problems. A common example has to do with grades. A high schooler gets a low grade on an exam. This is a great opportunity for the high schooler to practice his or her communication and negotiation skills. He or she can have a conversation with the teacher for the purpose of coming up with ways to improve his or her grade point average.
A helicopter parent takes that skill building opportunity away from their high schooler when the parent directly contacts the teacher. In this situation, the parent and the teacher do the negotiating, while the high school waits for the outcome. It has been said that a primary goal of parenting is to have a child turn into a self-sufficient adult. Helicopter parents make it incredibly difficult for their child to “grow up”.
The helicopter parents see their actions as a form of protection. Helicopter parents are overly concerned that one small mistake could result in their child’s future being “ruined”. So, they step in and try and make everything go well for their child, teen, and now – college student.
Coldwell Banker, a real estate firm, noticed an unexpected trend that began in 2008. Parents are moving across the country in order to keep close tabs on their son or daughter who has become a college student. This scenario has been described as “following their teen to college”.
These parents purchase homes (or, second homes, in some cases) near the university their son or daughter will be attending. They relocate to that newly purchased home in order to keep close tabs on their eighteen or nineteen year old offspring. In many cases, the parents expect their teen to live in that home with them – primarily because the parents don’t like the idea of their “child” living on campus.
It cannot help but wonder what the “cut off point” is for helicopter parents who follow their child to college. Their son or daughter is, legally speaking, an adult once he or she turns 18. Will these parents allow their offspring to live on their own after graduating from college? Or, a better question: will that young adult have the life skills a person needs to live outside of their parent’s home?
Image by Jessie Jacobson on Flickr.