Remember the beloved children’s book The Runaway Bunny? Little Bunny tried his hardest to run away, but his mother kept blocking his escape route: She’d be a fisherman fishing him out of the stream, the wind blowing his sailboat, and the tree he flies home to.
“If you become a crocus in a hidden garden,” said his mother, “I will be a gardener. And I will find you.”
Cute when you’re three, of course. It’s comforting to know that mom’s always looking out for you. But at 18? It starts to move into the realm of creepy.
Parenting blogs are discussing a new trend this week: Colleges have noticed the influx of helicopter parents on their campuses, and they’re taking advantage of the extra attention. At some colleges, parents of underage students who get caught drinking get a phone call home to alert Mom and Dad.
Rachael Larimore at Slate’s XX says:
By the time you send them away to school, they should know that you’re not going to come running every time they need their nose wiped but also that they don’t need to fear you. What happens when they get into the workforce and they make a mistake? Should their bosses call Mommy, too?
Actually, Larimore isn’t as far off as she thinks.
Lisa Belkin at Motherlode thinks college officials might be crossing a line:
In playing the parent card, college officials are using something they usually complain about — the overenmeshment of parents in students’ lives — to their advantage. Yes, they lament that parents swoop in and smooth the way for their children far too often, not letting students make decisions on their own. On the other hand, John Zucker, director of student conduct at the University of Maryland, tells Johnson: “There is no magical line here between May of their senior year of high school and college. When do they really become a responsible adult?”
There’s no concrete answer for that question, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t happen by sitting in your child’s dorm room holding their hand.
I have a friend who has a niece just 10 years younger than her. When that niece turned 18, my friend sat her down and told her every mistake my friend had ever made. Then her niece turned around and made them all over again anyway. “Why didn’t she listen to me?” my friend asked, exasperated. She didn’t listen, because that’s how you become a responsible adult. You make mistakes, you pick yourself up, and you try things a different way next time.
College is a time for parents to try out a supporting role, but these rules put them right back in charge. What do you think? If your kid was caught drinking at school, would you want to know about it?