2 College Presidents Beg Parents to Hover…in a New Way

Hi Folks — Just reading an early copy of an initftfhah
to be published in tomorrow’s Washington Post by the president of Northwestern University,Morty Schapiro, and the president of Lewis & Clark College,Barry Glassner, who is author of the book (turned phrase) The Culture of Fear.

Instead of merely telling parents to quit helicoptering when they drop their kids off at college — a tactic that they admit does not work — the dynamic duo do something I call “yuppie jujitsu.” They flip the parents’ own need for hovering into a way for them to let go. In this case, they tell parents that rather than swooping in to help their kids get something “better” —  be it a room, roommate or  grade — they should swoop in to remind their kids, “You can handle this! A little discomfort is good! You’re stretching!” As the presidents write:

…parents can help by gently pushing their children to embrace complexity and diversity and to stretch the limits of their comfort zones. Some of the most important learning we provide is uncomfortable learning — where students take classes in subjects they find intimidating, and live, study and play with classmates from backgrounds very different from their own.

This is so brilliant because it gives parents who, God bless ’em, only want to help, something constructive to do. It makes backing off into an ACTIVE way to HELP their kids. That is pure genius! I’m going to use it myself! The authors conclude with the kind of encouraging praise the parents have perfected themselves:

Having raised smart and accomplished kids, most parents are able, with a little guidance, to recognize the difference between being a constructive partner in their child’s educational journey and being a counterproductive, infantilizing, control freak.

The goal here at Free-Range Kids is to help them realize this before their kids are 18. But it’s great to know that, should we fail, the message awaits at college.

Hey Parents! Drop your kids off and then…

54 Responses to 2 College Presidents Beg Parents to Hover…in a New Way

  1. opsomath August 26, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    I was hoping that “yuppie jujitsu” involved putting a yuppie in a choke-hold.

  2. Gina August 26, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    I’ve been telling my kids this since they were born. Amazing how it seems to have made them capable of making their own choices and figuring out their problems! 🙂
    I guess it’s better to hear it at 18 than not at all, but I’m frightened for these kids who have NEVER had to make good choices until they get to college. OY!

  3. Terra Ziporyn Snider, Ph.D. August 26, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    A friend of mine just got back from parent orientation at Harvard MEDICAL school, Lenore. Parents were assured that their “children” would be just fine in their new school. I kid you not.

  4. Allison August 26, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    Hopefully they will listen! I’d love to make I through a year of teaching classes at a state University without having a parent contact me over issues In which they shouldn’t be involved.

  5. Angela August 26, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    I guess my parents were the ultimate free-rangers. Having neither gone to college but rather enlisted in the military, where they met, they literally dropped me and my stuff off, left, and drove 12 hours back home. I unpacked myself and marveled at all the parents there helping their kids. I didn’t hear from them for at least a month, and I didn’t see them again until I went home for Christmas. That was 20 years ago. How is that possible!?

  6. Janet August 26, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    I really try to make my kids take care of their own problems, but often times adults won’t listen to kids. My son had been reaching out to his guidance counselor for over a month for a simple request. I got an answer in less then a day when I finally intervened. My son is 15 and in High School.

  7. BERMYGAL August 26, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    I was a free range kids and didn’t even know it back then. I went to University for my first degree in 1989 and I went site unseen, no parents flew me from my home country of Bermuda to Canada and I didn’t call home for the first week. Fast forward to 1994 and I was off again to pursue a Masters degree. AGAIN site unseen and no escorts. Imagine my surprise when i learned my school was smack in the middle of a Ghetto. Did I cal home crying… Nope!!!! I just sucked it up and got myself a first class academic and cultural education. Now i hear of parents who escort thier children every year and then go up each summer to help them pack and bring them home. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. My mother NEVEr even visited me when I was in Canada and she came to the US ONLy for my graduation. I WAS ALL ON MY OWN AND LOVING IT!!!!

  8. Violet August 26, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    Janet, good point. Maybe you could ask the guidance counselor why it was necessary for you to intervene?

  9. ColRebSez August 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    When I went to college there was no “parent” orientation. I attended a student weekend and then packed my bags and went to school. With that said, I am a bit concerned about the administrator’s statement that they are intentionally trying to force students to have “diverse” roommates. Students are happiest when they share a room with someone they have a lot in common with. I would not hesitate to get involved to help one of my children with a roommate problem, even if it meant renting an apartment so they could get away from the person they did not like.

    As adults, we do NOT share rooms or spend time with people we do not like and we shouldn’t expect our children to, either. The notion that students should be forced to do so really bothers me. It’s a social-engineering police state run amok.

  10. Jynet August 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    I have this problem too, and my daughter is 18! She will graduate in January. The school wants ME to sign for her school supplies, for her ‘computer use’, etc. Since she is an adult I have NO legal responsibility for any of her behaviour (which is excellent, and I don’t have a problem assuming she will be ‘good’, but it isn’t my problem if she isn’t), and so refuse to sign. We will see how this goes down, lol!

    Janet, on August 26, 2012 at 11:11 said:
    I really try to make my kids take care of their own problems, but often times adults won’t listen to kids. My son had been reaching out to his guidance counselor for over a month for a simple request. I got an answer in less then a day when I finally intervened. My son is 15 and in High School.

  11. livenowandzen August 26, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    I was a free-range child. My father (my mother didn’t even join him) dropped me and my belongings at my dorm room and left immediately. My mom would send me my mail from home in a large envelope without even a personal note enclosed. Their declaring their independence from me was as important to me as my declaring my independence from them. I’m not sure why people do not understand that is how it should be.

  12. MyBloodyOpinion (@MyBloodyOpinion) August 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    We’ve intellectualised everything and now we need intellectuals to reverse the intellectualism.

  13. missjanenc August 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    These sheltered kids, now out of range from the ‘woop-woop’ of helicopter rotors, will freak out at their new-found freedom and ultimately shock their parents when they find their little darlings cavorting in the next “Girls Gone Wild” video.

  14. Peter August 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Janet, there is a difference between High School and College. But you’re right that, in high school, getting the parent involved–especially when it comes to Guidance Councilors–can make a difference.

    Back in my High School days, I wanted to take computer science classes at the local college. In theory, I could do so as I had exhausted all of the resources at the high school. However, since the computer science department was under the auspices of the Math department, the High School decided I had to exhaust the math resources at the High School. Even though I had letters from the head of the computer science department and the professor who taught the pre-req for the intro to computer science course saying that I could easily handle what math was involved in the class.

    Yup. Time for Dad to get involved.

    Now my Dad was a former UDT–what would now be called Navy SEALs–during WWII and Korea. He had taught math at the High School for 21 years before getting fed up with the Administration and quitting. My Dad was also renowned for not taking crap from anybody. I wasn’t at the meeting, alas, but as I understand it, he pretty much said that I’d be taking that class or the Guidance Councilor would be eating his meals through a straw.

    Needless to say, I was allowed to take the class. The Councilor told me that I’d be lucky to pass. I got an A-.

    It’s one thing when Mommy and Daddy are doing all the work and the kid does nothing. It’s another thing when your kid does all the work and still can’t make any headway. Yeah, then there’s no shame in asking for help from Mommy and Daddy.

  15. Dave August 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm #


  16. Tonya August 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Parents need to start taking the roll as advisors. I think it is good to take them at the beginning of the year but don’t interfere with them that week. Parents should be there for support if needed but that is a text or phone call away.Since I am paying for their college – I will expect them to attend classes and maintain decent grades. I might give them my advise on a major but that will be their choice. Honestly – I don’t want them back in my house much after graduation so I hope and will strongly advise a major that will get them a job after.

    If they are in a sport their coach will probably hover more than the biggest helicopter parent ever would.

  17. Tonya August 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    I agree with colreb. I hated my roommate my Frosh year. It affects your entire school year. Room changes should be done if necessary. If my kid needs that to make it happen then I will help them. My roommate thought it was ok to let her boyfriend stay over the majority of the time and have sex with him while I was trying to sleep. I would sometimes go to the floor lobby and sleep on the couch. Needless to say – they would not let me change till second semester. I ended up transferring to a college closer to home. Still lived in a dorm but when my roommate decided she wanted to have her boyfriend stay over – she would give me a heads up and I would go home and spend the night. Or to my boyfriend’s room ( he did not have a roommate ; ) )

  18. Yan Seiner August 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    @Janet: That’s my pet peeve. Adults (or perhaps older people) talking over kids and about kids as if they’re furniture, or asking the other parent a question that the kid can easily answer.


    When my kids have an issue, I expect them to make an honest attempt at solving it. Fortunately our school system here is by and large very good about kids being independent, and they respect the kids’ opinions. For example, a boy with a checkered past who vandalized our house some time ago asked to join my daughter’s swim team. The coach met with my daughter and asked her if he should accept this boy on the team. We were not asked (and should not have been).

    I would take this up with the principal; if the guidance councilor does not listen to a 15 year old, then they really should not be in that position.

  19. Steven Horwitz August 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    When I was our Associate Dean of the First Year, the message I gave to parents was very similar: If your kid calls or emails or texts with a problem, instead of intervening to try to solve it for them, ask them what they are going to do next. And if that doesn’t help, remind them of the resources on campus they have (e.g. tutors, RAs etc) and encourage THEM to make use of those resources. Like the presidents, my approach was to give the parents something to do/say but a something that involved empowering the students to take on the responsibility for acting on the problem themselves.

  20. Eika August 27, 2012 at 12:38 am #

    I just graduated college. Freshman year, my parents did help me get there– since they wanted the car back, they had to– but after it was unpacked they hugged me and told me I wasn’t allowed to call home for at least two weeks.

    Hardest two weeks ever, and I was somewhat free-range. But those two weeks forced me to get into the habit of solving things for myself and being independent away from them.

    And the roommate thing is the worst part of college, honestly. The one who left the window open when it was -10 degrees Farenheit told the RA she was afraid for her life when I muttered I would kill her if she left it open again, and the next one got drunk and frequently moved my stuff around the room. I got used to finding my belt in the microwave… and other places.

  21. Donna August 27, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    The idea that a parent would intervene for their child in college is absolutely bizarre to me. Give advice on how to address the problem? Sure. Address the problem themselves? Absolutely not.

    My mother lived within walking distance of my univeristy and knew some of the administration and professors. She still would have never had intervened on my behalf and I would have never expected her to do so. In fact, I would have been insulted and irate if she tried. That bothers me more about this trend than the parents. That the adult children allow it to happen and even encourage it to happen. That they have no desire to grow up and handle their own lives.

    When does this stop? When do parents make their “children” handle things on their own? Do they call their bosses and solve their problems? Argue with their spouses for them?

  22. Lollipoplover August 27, 2012 at 3:16 am #

    I watched a “Back to College” segment on the news last week. It suggested parents moving their kids into their dorm rooms not to unpack for them, to let the college student do the unpacking. Really?!

  23. Jynet August 27, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    Yes, Donna, that happens. :/ At some large companies they have “parent orientation” and let the parents help their kids set up their cubicles etc!


    Donna, on August 27, 2012 at 02:27 said:
    When does this stop? When do parents make their “children” handle things on their own? Do they call their bosses and solve their problems? Argue with their spouses for them?

  24. the full monte(ssori) August 27, 2012 at 5:15 am #

    Oh good grief… I flew from Mexico to Switzerland on my own at 19 to attend college. My mom came to see the school… WHEN I GRADUATED.

  25. pentamom August 27, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    So I was at fall sports physicals for my kids a couple of weeks ago, and some of the parent/guardians were chatting while we waited. One turned out to be the grandmother of the boy on the team (middle school age, I think), who had brought him. Turns out her son, the boy’s father, had been assistant principal of the school we were meeting at, and had been moved to a new school, possibly as principal, as part of a major district reshuffling.

    Grandma remarked that later that day, she and her husband would be going to see her son’s new office. I thought, “Well, that’s nice.” She then continued to the effect that she was relieved to be able to do so, since even when your kids are all grown up, you still want to make sure they’re in a good situation.

    So now the SCHOOL PRINCIPAL’S (or at least assistant principal’s) mom has to check things out to make sure he’s okay. Unbelievable. I assume she wasn’t going to try to manage anything or interfere, but still, the idea that a 60-something parent of someone who would have been at least in his mid- 30’s would feel the need to “make sure he’s okay” on the job just blows my mind. What of my mom, who watched all her kids grow up and most of us move hours away, doing jobs she didn’t even understand at places she never saw the inside of, if at all?

    That said, I agree with Lenore’s take. Though we could wish this didn’t have to be taught to parents of college students, we should be glad that someone’s doing it.

  26. Claudia Conway August 27, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    Why are there parent orientation classes for colleges at all? Colleges should be nothing to do with the parents in the first place!

  27. Allison August 27, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    Parent programs were started in a lot of places because the parents were showing up. Without anything to do, they would attend the student programming. The parent programs are an attempt to separate them especially for advising.

  28. afterthekidsleave August 27, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    Very timely post, as we dropped our daughter off at college today. I saw parents lugging trailer-loads of stuff up to their kids’ dorm rooms, including huge flat screen tvs, refrigerators, and massive flats of bottled water (because really, do you trust tap water?). I was appalled, amused, but mostly just sad for these kids, who will have to figure out how to negotiate life without mummy and daddy. I have a feeling many of them will find it tough.

  29. Sera August 27, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    @ Jynet – how on earth is it even LEGAL for a tertiary education facility meant for high school graduates – i.e. ADULTS, to attempt to obtain guarantees of payment/anything else from anyone other than their customers (the persons attending the courses there)?

    I just… I don’t even. It literally makes no sense. If an18-year-old commits a crime, their parents are not held legally responsible AT ALL for the 18-year-old’s actions. If an 18-year-old takes out a loan, makes a purchase, or signs a rental contract or something, their parents cannot be held legally responsible for supplying any money or anything like that. How the hell can that work in an education facility????

  30. Nicoline August 27, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    For the person who asked if those parents will call their kid’s boss too, to sort some issue or other: Yes, I’ve been told by HR people that that is *exactly* what happens nowadays.
    When my oldest went to college in Holland I had to go with him because he was three months shy of his 18th birthday and without a parent/guardian he could not open a bank account, sign a cell phone contract, and do all kinds of legal stuff. But after I had helped him get settled in, I flew back and he was on his own. After two years he decided to change schools. He did all the research, figured it out and then called us to say what was up.
    When the youngest went away to Ohio last year, he didn’t want to live in a dorm, so he found an apartment to share (it was cheaper, too). We helped him move all his stuff there. The very first night in the apartment (an old duplex) a pipe burst and the basement flooded. He calmly waded to the main shut off, closed it and went back to bed. The next day he called his landlord at a decent hour to say he needed to send a plumber. We didn’t hear about it until he called after his first week in Ohio.
    I wonder about those kids who have never had to make decision in their lives. How will they do that all of a sudden when mommy or daddy isn’t there to hold their little hand? Do they text 25 times a day or what? I’ve heard there are kids who have so few life skills that they actually call home in the middle of the night because they don’t have quarters for the washing machine in their dorm and no earthly idea how to get them….

  31. Donna August 27, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    @Sera –

    I got the impression that Jynet was talking about high school and not college but I could be wrong.

    That said, it is VERY common to demand a cosigner on a loan or anything else involving the payment of money when the principle beneficiary has minimal employment and credit history (or bad credit). There is absolutely nothing illegal about it. The parent (or whoever) need not agree to be a cosigner but then the transaction ain’t gonna happen either. No reason that a school can’t do this as it pertains to loaned equipment, tuition, room and board, etc. Parents can choose not to agree but the school can then choose not to enroll the student.

    And NO parents are legally responsible for the crimes of their children, regardless of age. They may be required to pay probation fees, fines and restitution for their child in juvenile court but that is only somewhat enforceable.

  32. hineata August 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    @Eika – that sounds like a good plan actually. I was, in spite of being free range in today’s terms, quite a naive and immature 16 year old when I started nursing school in a city a couple of hours from my very small town. I wa also one of those nerdy kids who always had a lot more in the way of academics than common sense. I think it might have helped me greatly if I had caught the bus and found my own way there….Think I will do that with my own kids.

    Thinking about it I was quite underage for the course, even for the early eighties, so maybe my parents had to accompany me to sign papers etc – they certainly had to underwrite my cheque account, because at the time you were supposed to be eighteen to have one.

    Gosh, that was the hardest year of my life. I was sooooo homesick, and felt completely out of time with everyone else, especially as my school friends were still finishing high school. Felt like I was going to die every time I crossed the road – I had seldom experienced traffic going in two directions at the same time before, LOL!Still, I survived it, and I’m sure my kids will too, though I won’t be the one dropping them off at dorms – don’t want to infect them with my ‘Wally’ness!

    And my parents put up with me whining to them, but certainly never talked to the nursing school about anything at all – that just wasn’t the done thing.

    Did all of you have wonderful experiences of leaving home? Sometimes I feel guilty saying I absolutely hated it….we are all supposed to go away and have wonderful experiences meeting new people, trying new things etc. Of course I had some of that, and had settled down greatly by the time I went to Uni a couple of years later (already flatting with some great people etc), and had a great time there, but that first hostel experience was NOT nice……

    Anyone else out there a total wally too?

  33. hineata August 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    P.S. Sorry for that long rant. I know we are all supposed to be free range, and I make my kids do all sorts of things without me etc, and they are pretty responsible, but the idea of dropping them at the hostels for the start of Uni just fills me with dread. Not because they’re not capable – it’s all about me!

    I think I will definitely just have to pop them on a bus….and then lose my cellphone and cut off my home phone, so I can’t hear from them until they’ve settled in, LOL.

  34. Warren August 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    At my eldest’s University, the second and third year students had volunteers waiting at the dorms, to help carry stuff and orientate the arriving students. When I saw that, I pulled up to the curb, and started unloading. My daughter looked at me and told me “Looks like you get off easy.”, and then thanked me for the ride, and off she went.
    I was going to help carry stuff up the stairs to her 4th floor room, then be on my way, but got off easy. LOL.
    This is their time to shine. One cannot shine with the shadow of a hovering parent, over them.

  35. pentamom August 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    In fairness, a lot of the “parent program” when my son went this summer (and my daughter to the same one three years before) was oriented around telling the parents that everything would be fine, to communicate that there were means for the kids to work things out for themselves, and encourage us to let them do that. Much of it was about helping us hep them be ready to go on their own. Given the reality of helicopter parents in the world, it’s probably a good thing that there are such programs — too many people just don’t have the instincts/skills/whatever and will feel more confident letting the kid go with a little encouragement and a little advice.

    Frankly, also, apparently unlike some Free-Rangers, I still want to be “involved” in my kids’ college life. Not doing it for them, not solving their problems for them, not having to know every little detail, but understanding what they’re doing, expressing interest, and knowing enough about what’s going on to give advice *when necessary.* I’m more of a gradual release of the apron strings type than a “throw them in the deep end and let them swim” type. And it’s not even about the apron strings — just as I’d want to be “up on ” what’s going on with a close adult friend, I want to be “up on” what my college age kids/young adults are doing, since after all they are *becoming* my adult friends and will be so in the future. YMMV.

  36. Allison August 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    Being interested and keeping up to date on what’s going on with their college life is one thing. Ask your students what is going on, see if they are involved in any group/club/organization on campus, ask if they are going to class, etc. If it sounds like they could use some help, ask what resources they have. If they are struggling in a class, ask if they have been to their instructor’s office hours. Coming to a professor’s office and complaining for 45 minutes about the grade their student ***earned***? Not so much 🙂

  37. Hels August 27, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    The only thing I disagree with is limiting conversations with parents. I still call my parents every day and I am almost 30. Just like when I was a kid, we would sit down for dinner every night and each of us would tell about their day – same thing now over the phone, since we live over a thousand miles apart. It’s not necessarily about kids asking Mom & Dad to solve their issues (is that the only conversations today’s kids have with their parents – apart from asking for money)? My parents and I share stories about people we met/things we read/plans for the future/bounce ideas off each other – similar to the way I talk to my friends…

  38. Havva August 27, 2012 at 11:21 pm #


    I think it has always been hard to move away. I started college in NY just before 9/11. My first chance to see my parents was supposed to be the weekend after 9/11. I couldn’t let my parents continue trying to fly out to see me, of hopefully obvious reasons. I was pretty distraught, and guilty for feeling that way. A long retired navy commander guessed my problem right off and suggested I try an “old navy trick for homesickness.” As he recommended, I made a chain of paper with one link for each day between September 12th and Thanksgiving, when I would see my parents again. Then, I ripped a link off the chain each day.

    I would guess that if a retired navy commander had an “old” navy way of dealing with home sick young adults… it isn’t that strange or that new for a young adult to be homesick. It’s just the parents not letting go that is new.

  39. Brian August 27, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    I think the point here is that if your kids actually play with other kids on playgrounds without hovering they learn to resolve disagreements. They learn how to play with other kids. They learn how to sort things out themselves. Low and behold, when they get to college they already know how to deal with a roommate who might be different from them or who might be difficult to live with.

    You learn more from living with a person who is difficult for a year than you do from just living with your friends who are like you. And you know what? Just like the playground prepared you to deal with college roommates, dealing with your college roommate prepares you to deal with your coworkers or clients in the “real” world.

  40. Allysson McDonald August 28, 2012 at 1:47 am #

    I’m with pentamom on this. Some of the comments about dropping and driving away with no contact for some time seems cold and uncaring – your child (mine was only 17) is going through one of the biggest transitions in their lives! I personally want to stay connected – though I try to stay out of his hair! UC Berkeley has a similar program that provides parents with info. on expectations, finances, health insurance and also what resources you can bring to your child’s attention when they call and tell you they have a problem. My son is VERY independent. He won’t share his grades, and he decided to move into an apartment at the end of his first year. We are close enough to see him about once a month, (he’s always happy to have us take him out for a meal), but he’s clear that we should not expect him home until Thanksgiving, LOL. He works part time and has student aid, but we help out with rent money as needed. Its great to see him growing into an adult, but this is a big transition for Mom too!

  41. Donna August 28, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    I think most here are for gradual loosening of apron strings. That gradual loosening starts in elementary school and works up through the completion of high school. At that point, they hopefully are very able to swim and not not being thrown on the deep end with no abilities. If you start loosening the apron strings at high school graduation, you waited way too late.

    I fully intend for my apron strings to be untied when my child goes to college. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be involved or interested in her life. It doesn’t mean that i will no longer offer advice when asked and help when sought. It will just mean that we relate on a different level. Our relationship will change to more adult-to-adult than parent-to-child. I will never completely cease being her parent but the day-to-day parenting is over. That seems to be what what helicopter parents are unwilling to give up – the day-to-day parenting of their now adult children.

    Even though she was very free range, my mother says that she finds being the parent of adult children much harder than parenting children. Not swooping in to solve the problems and not even knowing how to solve the problems sometimes. Biting your tongue when you want to forbid them from doing something stupid. Refraining from giving advice unless asked. Watching them fail when the failures are major. Accepting that they are living lives completely different from what you expected. She still finds it difficult and her “kids” are 42 and 28. I think it is just too difficult for some helicopter parents.

  42. Donna August 28, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    @ Allysson –

    People are different. Some don’t find moving out and going to college that stressful. I didn’t. I was basically handling mybown life and making my own decisions by then anyway. Granted I was in the same town I had lived in for the last year but I moved into my own house the day college classes started (and never spent another night under my parent’s roof until I was 35 and visiting with my own child).

    I lived in the same town as my parents and still went weeks without speaking to them in college. I was doing my thing and they were doing theirs. I knew they’d be there if I needed something. They knew I’d be there if they needed something. We simply didn’t need to chat every day. Still don’t. Other than an occasional email and Facebook posts, I haven’t talked to my mother since her birthday in May. I only know where she is because she keeps posting pictures on Facebook.

  43. Havva August 28, 2012 at 4:33 am #

    @Jynet, I think colleges are a little too accustomed to dealing with parents for anything involving money. In fact society in general is comfortable with infantalizing college students, and has been for at least a decade.

    My parents sent me into adulthood with enough financially. They also reminded me that I was never to ask them for money again, and absolutely under no circumstances should I ask them to co-sign a loan.

    My college never did learn to send the bills to me. But I made sure after my parents informed me of my first bill addressed to them, that my they didn’t need to get involved. In time the financial office got accustomed to me, so instead of asking a patronizing “Oh, have you brought in a check from your parents?” They would say “Ms. [Havva], would you like me to look up the amount due this semester?”

    The worst, though, was my bank. They turned me down for a basic credit card, then asked my mom to co-sign despite warnings not to. I guess they thought dad was the stern one. Mom reamed the bank for contacting her about another adult’s finances, without the permission of said adult. She also asked if the bank had actually considered my deposits like I had asked. The 2nd banker found out that no one had, and upon seeing my accounts called me quite panicked to assure me that my card was on the way. It didn’t have a lock on my other accounts and was for 3x the credit line I requested.

  44. Molly Wingate August 28, 2012 at 4:54 am #


  45. hineata August 28, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    @Havva – what a good idea the naval commander had! I will probably have to use that rather than the kids, LOL, but it’s a good thing to do just the same….Am surprised about your credit card experiences.I would have thought if you were over the age of eighteen they would have been required to work with you first- off. Sounds like your mum had no choice but to intervene that time.

    As for my kids and uni, they have also experienced many things already that I never had the chance to, basic things like bus and train timetables, how to order in restaurants, where to cross busy streets etc. Of course, on the other hand, they have no firsthand experience of how to deal with things like enraged goats or angry cows, but then hopefully they won’t meet too many of those in their hostels!

    Apologies for yesterday’s rant – was a bit down, the tri-weekly hospital visit took about three times as long as normal, consultant and doctors arguing, poor wee babies and a couple of toddlers screaming their heads off most of the day, and had a conversation with the father of a cystic fibrosis boy, at the end of which we sadly agreed we’d definitely be meeting again, the kids being regulars. Still, should really just be grateful I’m not having to pay directly for all this treatment, and buy my girl a little sit-upon scooter so the two of them can race each other round the ward :-). (and be grateful she doesn’t have cystic fibrosis too, though I might rescind that when they work out what she does have).

    Anyway enough off topic – hope everyone else is getting some sunshine, and have good days.

  46. Beth August 28, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    I’m confused about the conversation about college costs and billing. So now we, as free range parents, aren’t supposed to save up to send our kids to college anymore? I don’t know; I guess I’d prefer to not have my kids foot the entire bill with the relatively small amount they earn at their jobs, plus loans. Is it really non-free-range if I am able and willing to help with their tuition?

  47. Jespren August 28, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    To Beth above, I think ‘able and willing’ is much different (and in no way counter to free-range) than an entitlement additude that says parents *must* pay college tuition for their *adult* children or they aren’t good parents. The assumption that a decent parents *will* pay, regardless of the ableness or willingness, for an 18 year old+ to do anything is what I would say is counter to free-range.

  48. Carol Everett Adams August 28, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    Excellent point:
    “I would guess that if a retired navy commander had an “old” navy way of dealing with home sick young adults… it isn’t that strange or that new for a young adult to be homesick. It’s just the parents not letting go that is new.”

    as for all the comments re: job interviews –
    I’ve talked to a handful of people lately who are in positions where they’re responsible for hiring. Some industries are becoming desperate to have grownups in the hiring pool, and some managers are starting to worry about the state of our future workforce. Too many young adults have no self-motivation or manners. Too many don’t know how to make adult decisions. Too many want to know what the company will do for them. I’ve been told that if I go into an interview (I’m a grownup looking for work now that my kids are in elementary school) and say, “I don’t expect that [insert company name here] owes me anything; what can I do for YOU as part of your team?” I might be hired on the spot 😉 if the manager has been interviewing too many recent college grads.

    That’s something to consider as we prepare our kids for their futures as adults. Isn’t that the whole point here at freerange? We want them to play today as the kids that they are now, but want them to act like adults when they’re finally grownup. Too many helicopters today don’t know the difference between those two points on the scale!

  49. Havva August 28, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    I was in no way implying that it was anti-free range for a parent to pay for college.

    My parents did pay for college, they just put the money in my name at a young age…under unfortunate circumstances. None of that was anyone’s business particularly. The only issues that should have mattered was that I was an adult. I was financially able. And I requested (repeatedly) that communications about my finances be addressed to me, and only to me.

    Why should it be so hard for a legally and financially and independent adult, to keep a 3rd party (their parents) out of stable financial dealings?

    The free range issue, as I saw it, is this: The parents have prepared a child to do something alone. The child feels ready, and is out capably doing that thing alone. Yet, busy bodies keep dragging the ‘child’ home to mom and dad.

    Is it any less a free-range issue when the “child” is a young adult managing their own finances, rather than a 12 year old biking to a friend’s house?

  50. bmommyx2 August 31, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    It’s too bad someone didn’t suggest this to the parents when the kids were younger. My six year old wants me to do stuff for him all the time & sometimes I do but I encourage him to do it himself first before I will help.

  51. pentamom September 1, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    Donna, I think we’re on the same page with this, almost perfectly. Like Allysson, I was reacting more to the posts about just dropping your kid off at the curb and driving away, and not feeling like the parent had *any* role in the adult child’s life as far as knowing what’s going on and offering help as requested. Some kids probably thrive under the “I’m going to do it all my own with no help from anybody” method — others want or need a closer ongoing connection with family, gosh, even a little practical help like “helping” to move in (as opposed to “moving them in and unpacking for them”) like any friend would help another friend. I agree the role is not to solve their problems for them, but to be there as a trusted friend would be. I guess I was getting a whiff of the idea that it is more perfectly free-range or even more virtuous to do the “drop off and totally drop out of their lives except when they deign to visit” thing — I don’t think it is *more* virtuous, though I am not saying it is wrong, either.

  52. pentamom September 1, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    “Is it really non-free-range if I am able and willing to help with their tuition?”

    Speaking for myself, most certainly it is not non-free range to help. But at least for me, I find it objectionable that the bill gets sent to the parents of an adult as though there is some kind of absolute *obligation* for the parents to pay.

    By all means, a parent who has the means is free to contribute without violating some free range principle. In our case, the money to “save up” simply didn’t exist after the bills were paid, so our kids are managing on jobs, aid, scholarships, and loans. I would love for it to be otherwise, though #1 claims she likes the sense of independence being fully responsible provides her. We’ll see when it comes time to start paying off the loans. 😉 But it’s just kind of strange that colleges simply presume that it’s a parent’s *responsibility* to help — rather than sending the bill to the kid, letting the money come out of whatever bank account it comes out of, and de-registering the kid if it’s unpaid. That’s what’s anti-free range — the cultural assumption that the parent is automatically financially responsible for the kid’s tuition.

  53. Buffy September 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    I guess I never worried who the tuition bill was addressed to – our address was our daughter’s permanent address in her college records, and that’s where the bill came.

  54. Jen September 5, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    “Is it really non-free-range if I am able and willing to help with their tuition?”

    I didn’t read all the comments, so forgive me if this has been mentioned… The government has decided that your children are “dependents,” as far as financial aid is concerned, until the age of 24 (with a handful of exceptions such as getting married).

    Back when I attended college, two of my friends had gained “independent” status by living away from home and paying all the bills for a year on their own. Today, the government clucks at students, even those who might have survived on their own for a few years after high school, and says, “Come now, we know you’re not reeeeally independent. Your parents surely can help pay the bills for college.” Infuriating. And definitely NOT free-range.