• Rebecca Eckstein, MA, CEC

Helicopter Parents


It is almost the end of fall semester, and for some parents, it is the end of the first semester in college for your first, or second, or maybe even your last child. It is supposed to be a time of fresh bonding over the holidays, sharing stories, and joy for everyone. Only 7 semesters left! But, before they come home to you and spend that joyous time, they are struggling to finish up all of their exams. For many of them it is a difficult week. Students realize just how important this week can be for their GPA and sometimes for their academic scholarships. Some of these exams are worth 30-40% of their grade in the class. A lot is riding on the next three weeks. It is a very stressful time for all of you.

I can't emphasize enough how supportive you need to be for them and to take a few minutes for yourself to realize how far you have come. Breathe and listen. You managed to let go when they moved into their dorm in August, and they have made new friends, and for most of them it has gone very well. It is a success story even if their grades are not where you want them to be in this initial semester. You showed them the way, now it is up to them. For others, it might be a time when they are wondering about their choices. Did they make the right choice? Do they need help managing their academics, or do they have the right roommate? Did they prepare enough during the semester to be ready for that exam? All of these things, we have been through but it was a long time ago, and a different time. Life has become much more complicated and vastly different than when we were in college.


I encourage you to enjoy their time when they arrive home, and know that they will get through the exams. It is an important step. When my own two sons came home from their first semester, it was always a big sigh of relief to see them but also to know that they were really ok. The changes were noticeable. I grew a few inches taller, and one grew a few inches wider. It was great to see them, and they were happy. I watched them feverishly log onto the school portal during the break to check their grades. They wanted to stay up late, and out all night. It was a new time for all of us. It was stressful for them and for me. I am a helicopter parent, and I admit it. Let's face it.. we just want them safe and happy... and SUCCESSFUL!

They managed to pass; although, not always with the GPA that they wanted but it all worked out. I remember one semester when my neighbor's daughter came home and announced she was transferring schools. It changed everything for days for them. But, it all worked out. So, when you get that panicked call this week or next about exams, be encouraging. Help them plan their time or suggest that they get someone in student services to help them plan their time, and make sure they realize it is only a week or so until they get a nice long break from the books. After they spend some time at home, they will want to return. Our neighbor's daughter went back and she never regretted it for a minute. It is part of their growth. You can certainly help them by listening and and letting them make their own decisions. You will all be better for it. And, if you need help, don't hesitate to ask for it. A lot of us have been through this, with more than one child. It does get easier....especially for them!


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