Ok, BU parents. Today is the first day of finals on campus. I have to tell you, it’s awfully quiet. I see the occasional student meandering about the library, looking lost, tired, or a little bit cracked out, but generally, campus is not a hotbed of physical activity today (I am sure it doesn’t help that it’s the coldest day we’ve had this fall); I’m thinking all the activity happening today is that of an intellectual nature. Most students are gathered, not ‘round chestnuts roasting, but ‘round the warm glow of academic growth as they study in groups. Others are most likely taking their first final.
Up to this point, you’ve probably received a few (if not several) panicked calls: “I need money,” “I’m lonely,” “My new friends are mad at me,” “I miss my boyfriend/old friends back home,” “My weird roommate has listened to Dark Side of the Moon forty-three times today, and I can’t be held responsible for what I might do to her after the forty-fourth…” This sounds relatively familiar, right? (Ok, the album was a bit of a throwback, but I’ve made my point, yes?)
But every now and then—especially during finals week—there are calls that are borderline alarming. Having your son or daughter call very upset and stressed over a final, or reporting that he/she is sick or not sleeping well, or missing the family dreadfully is, undoubtedly, scary and bound to make you anxious and worried for your child. If that alarming call comes in, what do you do?
There’s the rub. You certainly don’t want your child to feel lonely, or without help, but you also want to encourage independence, maturity, and resourcefulness, right?
You may have heard the term “helicopter parent” used to refer to parents who “hover” over their students and bail them out at every juncture. It’s a rather unflattering generalization, but I am less concerned with that than what you think about it.
Parents are closer to their children than ever before. It’s a pervading characteristic of the Millennial Generation. This may be the first documented era in history in which young people identified their parents as their best friends, (and I happily include myself among that group), but in this unprecedented closeness, can we see the boundary lines?
So how do you know when to rescue your students, and when to make them tough it out? Have you all been confronted with this question? How do BU parents handle situations like this?
For more information about current views on “helicopter parents” and related topics, check out these videos I found on youtube:
The first is a segment by Charlie Gibson on ABC news.
The second is a clip of Dr. Paul Redmond at the University of Liverpool, on the BBC.
Jessica Hume, Bellarmine University c/o 2005
Director of Writing and Parent Communications