It’s quiet on campus now, but in just a few weeks, The University of South Alabama will be swarmed with students. Some will be living away from home for the first time. It’s a transition that’s already hard enough for some. For others who have over protective parents, it’s a little harder breaking away from mom and dad.
“Helicopter Parenting” is a new term psychologists use to describe parents who are over involved, make decisions for their kids, or even solve problems for them. The counselors at South see this often.
“Sometimes parents insist that their sons or daughters select a particular major, and we have certainly seen cases where that has been true. Their parents want them to go into engineering, or nursing,” says Dr. Bob Hanks, Director of Counseling and Testing Services at USA.
A new study by the American College Health Association says more and more college students are seeking therapy and are taking antidepressants and anxiety medication relating to issues that deal with over-involved parents.
“It would sometimes be difficult to know with certainty, to know that parental involvement was the sole cause of the symptoms of depression or anxiety. I would say it’s a contributing factor rather than the sole cause,” says Dr. Hanks.
Of course, counselors remind us, it is important to stay involved in your kids lives, but, they say you have to let them breathe on their own, so they can learn to function with mom and dad.
“There is a need to withdraw some and let their sons and daughters stand on their own feet and make decisions for themselves. Maybe act like a consultant,” suggests Dr. Hanks.
He suggests for students who might have anxiety about leaving home and the protection of their parents to get involved on campus. There are several organizations for students to join, and making new friends and getting involved is a great first step to becoming a successful adult.