Two College Presidents Beg Parents to Hover Over Their Snowflakes…In a New Way

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Hi Folks — Lenore from Free-Range Kids. Just wanted to share this brilliant oped that’s running in tomorrow’s Washington Post. It’s by the president of Northwestern University, Morty Schapiro, and the president of Lewis & Clark College, Barry Glassner, who is author of the book (turned phrase) The Culture of Fear. They came up with a new idea: Instead of telling parents to quit helicoptering their hot-house kids (which they have seen does not work), they tell parents DO helicopter. DO step in when your child gets an unacceptable roommate, class or grade. But instead of immediately calling the college to complain,  call upon your child to BUCK UP.

…parents can help by gently pushing their children to embrace complexity and diversity and to stretch the limits of their comfort zones. Some of the most important learning we provide is uncomfortable learning — where students take classes in subjects they find intimidating, and live, study and play with classmates from backgrounds very different from their own.

At last, helicopter parents have something constructive to do: Support their kids in a time of difficulty, instead of striving to make the difficulty disappear!  The parents win because they are doing something that truly helps their kids. The students win because they have parents who believe in them enough to stop swooping in. And the college wins because their deans are no longer dealing with, “My son doesn’t like the dressing options at the salad bar. Plus he got an A-minus in Econ.”  Win. Win. Win. – L.


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5 Responses to “Two College Presidents Beg Parents to Hover Over Their Snowflakes…In a New Way”

  1. #1 |  William Anderson | 

    Believe me, I think the man’s advice is well-taken! As the director of our university’s MBA program, I can say that there are times when people need to understand that some personal independence is a good thing. Helicopter parenting does not cut it, period!

  2. #2 |  johnl | 

    Good idea, for preschool.

  3. #3 |  Pete | 

    I won’t be funding university educations for my sons until they have demonstrated a significant degree of self-motivation and personal responsibility. If they have not reached this level of self-reliant maturity by the time they finish high school, then I judge that some seasoning in the real world will be in order.

  4. #4 |  central texas | 

    I believe one of the underlying premises of the helicopter set is to ensure that their progeny are identical copies of their own fears, prejudices, preferences, and ambitions. For that reason, I doubt that the helicopters will display much interest in losing control of their precious clones’ to wider interests, greater tolerance, expanded knowledge and choices about the future.

  5. #5 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @4 – Yes, having had parents who put a lot of pressure on me…

    (Ironically, I *have* ended up teaching, many years later, via work in Universities and now adult education)