You may have a friend whose mother picked out her top colleges and practically wrote her resumé, a buddy whose mom calls him in his dorm room to wake him up for class, or maybe your dad is the one known for yelling at teachers for your bad grades.
If you are the child of a helicopter parent (a parent who hovers too closely over a child, mapping out their activities and decisions), you probably feel loved and protected. But, although you appreciate all that Mom and Dad do for you, you need to realize that growing and developing as an individual, especially when you leave for college, is essential to your success.
Your parents can benefit from your independence, too, and there are steps you can take to secure this independence while maintaining your relationship with your parents.
Set communication guidelines
Unlimited access to cell phones and e-mail can add fuel to a helicopter parent’s hovering. Together, you need to decide the amount of contact you want to have. Also, discuss who is going to call whom. Then you need to stick with the plan. If you “forget” to call because you’re out with friends, then who can blame Mom for calling 12 times to make sure you’re all right?
Regular conversations about your classes, friends, health and next plans to visit will keep Mom and Dad feeling comfortable about your life away from home and curb their urges to call six times a day to make sure you’re safe.
Budget your money responsibly
By taking care of yourself financially, you show your parents that you are turning into an adult, and that – while you still need their guidance – you’ll be able to take care of yourself once you’re officially on your own.
Fight your own battles
Your parents should never practice any of the following behaviors: contacting a residence hall over petty roommate issues, yelling at a professor regarding one of your grades, writing a paper or resumé for you, or calling a potential employer for any reason.
If you feel that your parents are practicing these or similar behaviors, you need to have a talk with them. Tell them that as much as you appreciate their help and support, part of becoming an adult is learning to deal with problems on your own.
The bottom line
Your parents always have your best interests in mind, even when they are hovering a little too close. You can’t change Mom and Dad, but you can help them understand your desire for independence. Talk to them and draw out respectful boundaries. Follow through by taking responsibility and acting like an adult. Both you and your parents will end up happier, and your relationship will benefit.