College is a time of exploration and independence — or it would be, if many of this generation’s helicopter parents would let it be.
Generations ago, a weekly phone call or email was enough for most families. But in this age of smartphones, parents expect their kids to be reachable at all times.
Here’s what can you do to stay close with your parents while still having your space:
Set a schedule
Before you head off to school, sit down with your family and propose a time for a weekly phone or Skype date. That way, they’ll know to expect to hear from you at, say, 7 p.m. on Sundays. They can save all of the week’s news until then.
Turn your phone off while you’re studying
Research has shown that constant interruptions lead to substandard work and make it more difficult for students to retain information. Consider leaving your phone in your dorm room before you head off to the library. You can let your parents know in advance that you’ll be unreachable, so they won’t worry.
Talk to your own professors
Having your mother call the Dean’s Office after a bad midterm grade will endear you to no one. Anyone who has ever had an honest chat with a professor knows that there is nothing that irritates them more than explaining bad grades or class policies to parents. Having a hard time in class? Schedule an appointment with your instructor during office hours or find out how you can get a tutor. Letting your parents take the reins could even hurt you when it’s time to ask for letters of recommendation.
Circle Parents Day on the calendar
Most schools have a designated visiting weekend for parents during the fall semester. Encourage your family to come and promise that you’ll show them all of your favorite campus haunts and introduce them to some of your friends during the visit.
Remember to be kind to your parents
Sending a child off to college is a big transition for many moms and dads. It’s important to keep in mind that most parents mean well and want the best for you. Some frank conversations and boundary-setting will make a big difference as all of you adjust to this next phase of your relationship.
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter at @LakshmiGandhi.