Helicopter parents have become far more common in the past few years than previously. It wasn’t as common when I was a kid, but I did have many Asian friends where the “Tiger Mom” stereotype rang true. Nowadays, kids and even young adults, are being micromanaged by their parents to the point where they don’t know how to function as an independent adult.
I’ve looked up the common issues kids of helicopter parents face, and how to deal with that now that you’re older. Here are a few ways to deal with college problems regarding helicopter parents
They Need to Know Everything
Most helicopter parents thrive on knowing every exact detail of your day. They need to know where you’re going, what you’re doing, who you’re with, who else is going to be there, etc. If you’re away at college, this can manifest in a barrage of phone calls, emails, and texts to you, your roommate, and in some extreme cases, campus security.
If you’re aware of how your parents might act once you’re “free”, you’re going to have to figure out a plan to keep them on an information diet.
What to Do
Inform Campus Security
Informing your campus security that you expect your parents might freak out if they can’t reach you the first time they call you and might escalate to them for useless reasons is a good way to set up precautions. Giving them a heads up they can maybe keep that on file somewhere so when your mom calls them frantically because you’re in class and didn’t answer your phone and she thinks you’re dead, they’ll know that it isn’t serious.
Inform Your Professors
A lot of helicopter parents focus on grades and GPA. Now that you’re an adult, they don’t have access toy our grades any more. This can be a huge change for some parents and I wouldn’t put it past some to start pestering professors about their child’s grades. Legally they can not disclose anything to your parents unless both parties have signed a consent form. This is due to FERPA, or the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act.
Giving your professors a heads up is a polite way of saying “My [parent] is crazy and will probably try to contact you. Just ignore those emails.” They deal with stuff like this a lot, but letting them know can alter their impression of you.
Keep Them on an Information Diet
This is probably the hardest things to do, because helicopter parents seem to be masters of guilt trips. Especially if they’ve been like this for ages. Keeping them on an information diet will prevent them from knowing the inconsequential details that they can blow out of proportion, and give yourself some privacy.
Give them your schedule. You know they’re going to ask and giving it to them lets them know when you can’t pick up your phone. That way if they call and you don’t answer you can tell them, “Well, I gave your my schedule for a reason. Why did you call when I was in class?”.
Schedule Time to Talk
Some might want to talk every day. Just the thought of that is tiring. Pick one day of the week to have a half hour or hour phone call where you update them on things you want them to know and leave it at that. Explain that talking to them cuts back on your studying time and they wouldn’t want that, would they?
If they insist on calling every day, it’s going to be hard to deal with things. Ignoring the calls might cause them to escalate, or it could cause them to back down. If it gets to a point where it is detrimental to your health, I suggest getting a cheap prepaid phone you could use during the day with your friends, and keep the other one in your dorm. If it persists past that, it’s not ideal, but you might want to talk to campus security or the local police about a harassment case.
Check Phone and Laptop for Spyware and Key Loggers
While this probably won’t apply to many if any of you, if you think your parents will take to stalking you to find out what you’re doing and maintain control, they may plant software or hardware to get your passwords, read your emails, and know the details of your online history.
There was a case in the US where a student won a civil stalking order against her parents for doing this exact thing, driving 600 miles to show up on her campus, and slander her among the campus. In their eyes they’ve done nothing wrong. They were paying her tuition, so it was allowed.
They Want You to Major in Something You Hate
Picking a major as an 18 year old fresh out of high school is daunting. A lot of students don’t pick one until their sophomore year, or the latest, first semester of junior year. Helicopter parents have a tendency to force majors on their children. More often than not, the child doesn’t want to major in that because they’re bad at it, they don’t like the subject, or it’s just out of their league. With more and more parents helping cover tuition due to the extreme rising costs of college, a lot of them feel they have the say in what you major in because of that.
What to Do
There are a few options for this situation:
Major in What They Want
This is the option that causes the least amount of resistance. It makes them happy, and more often than not, it’s a major that is relatively lucrative in the job market. While this makes them happy, it probably will make you miserable. If you go down this route you’re going to have to figure out how to deal with that. If you’re not understanding things, get help, go to your professors’ office hours, find a tutor if you can, talk to the on campus therapists or psychological services available.
If you find out that you’re starting to fail at the major they want, that’s going to require a new talk. No no one wants you to fail. My personal suggestion would be looking for alternative ways to pay your tuition and dropping the major.
Double Major in What You Want and What They Want
Doing a double major is exhausting, especially if they don’t really line up in terms of classes. If they want you to be an architect but you want to be a scientist, the probability of classes overlapping and counting for both majors outside of the required basic courses is really low.
But if your parents won’t budge with your choice of major, this is an option to get the benefits of both worlds. You might want to bash your head in a wall by the end of every semester, but it might be helpful in the long run. I still advocate for finding alternative ways to pay for college without parental help if this becomes the case.
Major in What You Want
This is the most controversial route to go. Ignore what your parents say you should major in and go with your gut. This has the most consequences and can lead to a fall out once you’re back home for the holidays.
Be prepared for them to pull funding for you if you do this. If this is your plan, I would suggest applying to every scholarship you can possibly think of, talk to your campus financial aid office about things to do, and if you can wing it, a part-time job while you’re taking the required classes. That way you have the basics out of the way that aren’t going to be as tedious as later courses so you might have more time for a job.
Have you been a child of a helicopter parent? What issues have I missed? Have anything you want to let me know? Leave it in the comments! Want to help support the cause? Share this post using the hashtag #TakeBackMillennial