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How Close Should Parents be with a College Student

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“Parents who strive to develop an encouraging and close relationship with their children might produce a high-school honors student but not a four-year-college graduate.” This is a quote from a paper is titled “Unanticipated Educational Consequences of a Positive Parent-Child Relationship.” It was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. The authors are Ruth N. Lopez Turley, Matthew Desmond, and Sarah K. Bruch. I read a review of this abstract in The Chronicle for Higher Education in an October 29, 2010, article by Tom Bartlett.

Clearly communication, interaction, and support, along with stressing a family value in education has proven to produce higher grades for high school students. Teenagers certainly need direction and support. And, those higher grades and the push to excel to a college education make for important factors in acceptance to college in the first place.

However, students whose parents hover, also known as helicopter parents, or have parents with whom they maintain close ties are more apt to not break away with enough independence to succeed at a college far away or over four years. They are also less likely to break away from the lifestyle they are familiar with; therefore, they are not encouraged to strive for an improved life style.

Being too close to your college students can have negative effects.

If you try to avoid having your student fail or make mistakes, these students will less likely learn from their mistakes and develop problems-solving skills.

If you do not begin to view your student as separate from you, the student will not view him or herself as independent and will lack self-confidence.

If you do not allow your student to explore, the student maybe become less curious and not be as self-aware because s/he has not tested different waters.

What should you do?

• Don’t be the problem solver: Instead of fixing, talk problems over with your student and advice, but let him/her go through the fixing steps alone.

For more tips on how to encourage your student’s success in college, see the full article at College Basics website.