“Helicopter parents have gone Velcro,” says Margery Eagan in her Boston Herald column. “Now they’re attaching themselves to their college freshmen’s dorm rooms.”
Ms. Eagan’s article notes that at colleges across the country, super-involved parents are having a hard time saying goodbye to their children, and some even linger around campus for days. As a result, many institutions are implementing activities that facilitate the separation.
According to a New York Times report, Morehouse College in Atlanta performs a formal “Parting Ceremony,” with speeches in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, followed by a march of incoming freshmen through the gates of the campus, which swung shut, leaving the parents outside.
At another college, everyone gathers in the gymnasium, students on one side of the bleachers, parents on the other. The president welcoming the new class has his back to the parents — a symbolic gesture meant to inspire “an aha! moment,” said the college's vice president of student affairs, “an epiphany where parents realize, ‘My student is feeling more comfortable sitting with 400 people they just met.’ ”
Parental separation anxiety is a reflection of modern child rearing. A good deal of it has to do with the evolution of over-involvement in our students’ lives. These are the baby-on-board parents, highly invested in their students’ success. They do a lot of living vicariously, and this is one manifestation of that.
Officials encourage parents to detach — not just on move in day, but throughout the first year, including limiting phone calls and text messages. As one parent (who is a kindergarten teacher) put it, “Say goodbye and just leave, because the kids calm down.”