Schapiro warns ‘helicopter parents’ ahead of Wildcat Welcome

Paulina Firozi, Campus Editor

University President Morton Schapiro has some advice for parents preparing for Wildcat Welcome’s “Kiss ‘n’ Bye” farewell next month: Be supportive, not controlling.

Along with Lewis & Clark College President Barry Glassner, Schapiro wrote a Washington Post op-ed published last week that encourages parents to find a balance between becoming overly involved “helicopter parents” and disconnecting from their children completely.

Although Glassner and Schapiro acknowledge that parent involvement may have been helpful leading up to college, they believe parents of freshmen should learn to allow enough space after move-in day for them to mature independently.

“The antidote to excessive parental involvement in constructive engagement- a way for parents to stay meaningfully involved with their children during this new phase in their growth,” they wrote.

Although “constructive engagement” may not include making “inappropriate demands on professors, student-services staff and college officials,” Glassner and Schapiro suggest parents urge their children to step out of their comfort zones and to take advantage of the new opportunities. Some of the opportunities they list include attending guest lectures, fine arts performances and sporting events.

“To the parents of children who don’t like their roommates, teachers, academic advisers or grades, we urge empathy and calm,” they said. “The social and survival skills young people develop in these situations will serve them well later in life.”

The two presidents said they remain confident that most parents of college-bound children have the ability to learn how to support their children’s future rather than controlling it.

They offered a stern warning to those parents reluctant to let go: “Should you decide to park your helicopter in the middle of the freshman quad, you will be ticketed and towed.”

— Paulina Firozi