I’m the liaison for First Year Experience and am familiar with the term helicopter parents. These are parents who hover around their children, contacting the university to keep tabs on their children. We’ve all heard of the extreme cases (ie. asking to go on job interviews with their children). A recent study however, suggests that those students with close ties to their parents are more satisfied with their university experience. On the flip side, these students often have lower grades. An interesting point – are the parents involved because the students need extra help or is the relationship hurting the students but not allowing for full growth?
I’ve grappled with what role we should have with parents. I’m not convinced that over involvement at the university level is a good thing but it is a fact that students still approach parents and friends as first line help. I’d considered holding a parent’s orientation, and this year our marketing, communications and outreach librarian held our first parent’s night and it was a success. Parents appreciated knowing where to send their children for help. I think that’s a role we can be happy with. Parents want to see their children succeed and often don’t know how to help – by having a night to highlight the support available to their children, we’ve played an important role but not one that has to perpetuate the helicopter syndrome.