3 Ways to Loosen the Grip of Helicopter Parents

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We’ve all heard the term “Helicopter Parent” and while most people associate that with a parent looming over their child’s every move, there’s actually more to it. A Helicopter Parent does consist of over protective parents shielding their children intensively, but the student is just as much to blame. Being sheltered is great, but eventually problem solving skills need to be formed, and that means without the hovering clouds of your parents. If you complain about your Helicopter Parent or rely on your parents for almost everything, it’s time to grow up. Being away at college is the start to your wonderful life of independence. Calling home everyday may not be as expensive as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean you should necessarily be doing it.

The first few months of school are intimidating, overwhelming and a bit uncomfortable. This is to be expected. You’re in a new place (maybe even new state) with alien surroundings and people you haven’t yet had a chance to really get to know. You may be feeling confused, out of place, homesick and a bit sad. You aren’t alone. Most every other student there is feeling the same way at some point and could probably use a friend. If you’re still feeling really homesick and can’t stop dialing your parents on speed dial, put your phone down, take a deep breath, and follow these three tips.

1) Once or twice a week-Max.- Unless there are some birthdays, questions or “Happy Anniversarys” to wish, you shouldn’t be calling home more than once or twice a week. Years ago, when students would say goodbye to their families on move-in day, it really was for long periods of time. Long distance calling was expensive and traveling was less efficient. Now a days, there’s so many different technological outlets that communication is constant. This is great in hindsight, but what students fail to realize is that they’re patching over a hole in their learning development. During college, struggling a bit just comes with the territory. If you’re calling your parents for every little problem and issue, you’re not growing, and you’re not learning.

2) Try to solve things on your own FIRST- I give college kids credit everywhere for some of the things they have to deal with. Those who live off campus have to deal with disgruntled landlords and outdated properties, students are learning to budget and be financially responsible, and getting sick is much harder without a cup of soup and the personal nursing touch from mom. It’s like being pushed into a cold pool in the middle of winter. But, just like any other pool, it’s cold at first until you get used to the water. Before calling home for guidance, try to solve issues with professors on your own. Get your roommate and give your landlord a hard time until they serve your requests (be reasonable). Make yourself a budget and don’t spend like you have no limit. Being an adult means doing things adults do and that means NOT calling your parents to mop up every mess you make. You can do it. If you’re still struggling with something after a day or so, call them, but first try to work things out on your own.

3) “I’m doing great, call you in a few days”- Helicopter Parents (much like any parents) just want the best for you. They want to make sure you’re doing okay and have everything you need. Even if you’re a little stressed out, that’s normal and isn’t grounds for you to alert your parents. You’ll make them worry and then they will call you even more than usual. If you’re trying to get your parents to loosen their grip a bit, keep enforcing the idea that you’re doing great on your own and while you miss them, you’ve got it under control. It may be hard for them to see you being so independent at first, but learning to be on your own is a golden rule of college. Remember that you have friends and your roommate to lean back on if you feel a little homesick. Go to a movie or have a pizza night to take your mind off it.

While your parents won’t stop worrying about you… ever (it’s their natural superpower), they’ll learn to let you make your own way. Texting, calling, Skyping and communicating with your parents multiple times a day is allowing them to keep a grip on you. Definitely still communicate with them once or twice a week, but take the extra time to learn about yourself and your surroundings. This independence will make you learn heaps about yourself you never even knew you had in you! Independence is exciting and teaches you a lot about responsibility. Use college as a chance to grow, your parents will notice and loosen up a bit.

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OCM Staff
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