How to Deal with Over-Involved Parents at College

How to deal with helicopter parents in college

Flickr user Jo Ann Deasy

When I was a student, I had a friend whose mom was “a helicopter parent” taking extreme care of her offspring. To what extent? Well, she helped her student with accomplishing 80 percent of college assignments, had constant cell phone monitoring, and got in touch with teachers whenever the kid got a low grade.

Did this over-protection help smooth all the bumps in the life of my friend? The answer is: absolutely not. Instead, she has grown into an adult who is not ready to face challenges. The truth is that the number of “victims” suffering from over-parenting is rather staggering. And the cost of it proves to be too high. These children become more exposed to failures and are less certain of what steps to take next. That is why a child may fail to build up the future he or she dreamed of.

To head into adult life successfully, you as a student should initiate honest dialogues with your helicopter parents. Need more detailed prompts on how to put it into practice? Below are some of the suggestions based on my own experience as a child of my beloved parents.

Keep Listening, Not Arguing

To find balance in communication with helicopter parents is your primary task here. The key rule is to resist the temptation to fly off the handle when they are about to talk. Use any methods that work for you best to achieve this goal, (e.g.: count to fifteen or say “One-Mississippi…two-Mississippi…three-Mississippi.”) Do anything to stay quiet for a while and keep saying to yourself that your parents always have good motives. Hence, you’d better give them enough time to freely share their thoughts with you.

Then it’s your turn to speak out and say how you would act by choosing a happy medium between what you and your parents suggested. Balance is key. A conversation shouldn’t be dominated by one side or the other.

Boast About Your Achievements

To show your parents you are a grown-up capable of making the right decisions and overcoming obstacles, tell them about your achievements. The more they know about your independent steps, the more assured they will be that you have developed strong personality traits allowing you to handle difficulties with ease and find proper solutions. Here, it’s also crucial to mention that your success in each particular case depended much on your parents’ kind support and say what exactly helped you move on. This way they won’t feel being cut out of the loop.

Avoid Putting Up Barriers

When they have “helicopter parents” children often choose to stay isolated and keep their involved mom or dad away from their lives. Instead of leaving their kids alone and letting them tackle new challenges on their own, parents are likely to grow even much pushier than ever before. With such strong opposition from all sides, it’s far more difficult to reach a compromise. One quarrel is followed by another and another one. It takes a lot of time unless both sides calm down and become ready for the “ceasefire”.

What to do then? Keep communicating all the time. Speak about your interests and further plans. Learn to use “compromise” phrases when discussing something your parents don’t totally agree with, say something like “I think we both agree that…., but in this case … .”

Bonus Tip

Think strategically and act as a wise diplomat. Make the most you can from effective negotiation rules. They will definitely come in handy.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.