got me a college girl

in celebration of formal education in the life of the Christian girl

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

helicopter parents or independent students? (Karen)

So, I read an interesting article in our local newspaper yesterday. It seems that there is a new phenomenon that is being labeled as “helicopter parents” and it is starting to be a major problem in college campuses all across the country. Named such for the “hovering” that they do, these parents cannot allow their children to grow up and take responsibility for their own lives.

The main problems, as I understand them, are that these parents are stepping in and interfacing with college advisors and professors on behalf of their children. They also use cell phones to frequently call their children during the day and the students check in with their parents after every exam to let mom and dad know how they did. They micromanage relationships with roommates, etc.

The universities are taking action by offering seminars for parents of freshman, instructing them on the proper amount of contact they ought to have with their children and letting them know that the school will be establishing guidelines for limiting a parent’s access to teachers, etc.

The reason this is such a problem? This behavior handicaps the students in areas of problem-solving, decision-making, and an overall sense of independence. Administrators acknowledge that a large part of the college experience is learning to develop these skills as one leaves home for the first time and prepares to have employment and establish families of their own.

Of course, as I read this article, I was thinking of this blog and its goal of encouraging young Christian women to consider going to college. The article also confirmed to me, in more clear terms, why there are those who would not want a girl to go to college.

Those who are part of a hyper-patriarchal belief system, those who believe women should not make decisions on their own, but rather, have decisions made for them by their fathers and husbands, and those who believe problem-solving ought to be left up to the menfolk are the ones who, for the most part, are pleading for daughters to stay away from college. Of course, these ideals are couched in terms such as “protection of daughters” and “keeping a girl under her father’s authority” etc.

But I believe in reality these anti-college views are really another way of keeping a woman from becoming her own person. You can use all the fancy terminology you want, but this is really what you get when you boil it all down. Who would have thought that independence is a four letter word?


  • At 10:15 AM, Blogger Jessica said…

    I think many of these groups are afraid that women will think for themselves, and in doing so, will decide not to choose the path that men and husbands would like to choose for them.

    I am so glad I went to college

  • At 2:41 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said…

    I experienced and heard about many, many examples of helicopter parents while a graduate student instructor (though I've never heard that term). Really, it was the parents of the "most entitled" students who would have the gall or audacity to contact a director of a program to ask for special exceptions because their son couldn't get his act together, or because they wanted their daughter's trip to New York or Europe to be an "excused absence" with no penalties. On the face, it seems to be something different going on than in patriarchial families... I need to think about it a bit more.

  • At 12:56 PM, Blogger Tim's Mom said…

    I agree with Elizabeth that it's more than patriarchal attitudes responsible. I think it has more to do with sheltering or controlling mothers who aren't ready to let go. (I say this as a semi-sheltering mother who's already hesitant about letting go...)

  • At 6:01 PM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    tim's mom and elizabeth,

    I agree that there are several things going on here.

    one is that I think the baby boomer parents, of which I am one, think that their kids deserve the best and they have already paid lots of money to see that they get it. Another thing is that some people see their children almost as children....and the funny thing is that they have given their kids more freedom in many areas than any generation before.

    I was thinking about the people I spent time with at the crisis pregnancy center when I counseled there. I was stunned at how many parents accepted it as normal for boyfriends to be living in their homes or even sleeping over occasionally. Then they turn around and send their kids to college but want to have control over all these other areas of life. I don't get it.


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