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Article about parents' (over)involvement in the lives of their college students


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#51 madteaparty

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 11:02 PM

nm

Edited by madteaparty, 20 May 2017 - 11:06 PM.


#52 jdahlquist

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 11:37 PM

I don't consider myself a helicopter parent, but I am a good steward of my money. If I am going to be laying out tens of thousands of dollars a year for an education, I expect to get what I pay for. So if the school is not delivering on something that I'm paying for and my children are unable to access something that we paid for, then yes, I'll make a stink about it. I will also require I be given access to my child's grade logs to be certain that my money is not being wasted; if they don't want to give me the access, then they can pay for their education themselves. It's like dumping your money into a mutual fund and then not pay attention to the returns. I don't look at this is helicoptering; I look at this as making sure I'm getting what I paid for (that is, that the school is delivering what they promised as far as services, and that my child is doing the work necessary to get the grades and degree for all the money I'm paying out). I do not plan on being active in any parent club, monitoring my kids social media, or demanding a phone call every day. But my money is another story, LOL.

 

I guess some depends on the amount of trust parents place in the school.  Personally, I am not willing to pay large sums of money to an institution that I do not think will provide what I am paying for.  I work under the assumption that the school is doing that.  If there were significant warning signs that was not happening, I would then choose how to step in, but I do not feel the need to check on the school to make sure this is happening.  

 

Also, I trust that my children can handle most problems that may arise without my having to make a stink about it.  They may ask for my advice (if they think it is an area in which I have experience or knowledge that will help) or if they are busy (just as I would ask other family members to pitch in at times).  

 

While I would not dump my money into a mutual fund and not pay attention to returns, I investigate the mutual fund before placing money in the fund.  I will watch the returns of the fund over a period of time, but I will not watch the fund manager's decision making on a weekly or even monthly basis.  I seldom check what the fund manager is deciding to purchase or sell, I watch only the outcome of these decisions.  


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#53 elegantlion

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 10:01 AM

We're in a weird spot because ds and I attend school together. I make sure he's up because we commute together. I ask how grades or classes are going but I do that with other classmates as well. I do have his log in, yet I never log in without his permission and generally only if we're on my computer looking at something together. I also have one group of friends that he hangs out with as well. He got to know them when we were all hanging out at my house, so more like a roommate situation. 

 

I don't clean his room, do his laundry, or manage his day to day happenings. It will be interesting this fall as we have a class together. I'm the supplemental instructor for the class and it's with my advisor, so that should be interesting. I'm also taking a class with his advisor. 

 

So we are intertwined because of being in school together. I do try to be aware of some boundaries as a parent. If he were away at school, I doubt he'd ask for much help. 

 

I hesitated to post as our situation is pretty different. Yet, I'm consciously working on shifting our relationship from teen and parent to adult and parent. I do think it's good he's living at home for part of this as he's more of a late bloomer in some areas. It's also interesting because we share a house with my mother, so he's seeing how intergenerational housing can work and he adores my mother and vice versa. We "parent" ds very differently. 


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#54 DebbS

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 02:32 PM

The mom flies in once a month to clean the dorm room??? Wow.

Eta: Does the student have some sort of disability? Even at that, it would probably be more economical to just hire someone local to do it.

 

If I had that kind of money, I'd fly my college student home once a month to clean my house!


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#55 Gr8lander

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 11:04 PM

We ARE in an odd position with these sorta adult-kids. The college requires very detailed financial information from us and then tells us to back off! :-)

 

I would have loved to be entirely hands off with my oldest college student. Unfortunately, I realized too late that had I been paying attention, we really could have done much better financially in her college search. We had the VA/GI Bill going with her too, which involves more of us paying attention. Then she developed severe exacerbation of her mental illness while on an overseas exchange, and suddenly I find myself in a locked room in a Turkish mental hospital, trying to convince a panel of three Turkish psychiatrists to release her to me for the return to the US. The college officials were nowhere to be seen, and she certainly was in no position to help herself. Had to deal with the paperwork to get her withdrawn from school properly (and more paperwork to get her back into school), and then paperwork and repayment to the VA for their portion of the semester that was lost. And then bills to be paid. Lots and lots of bills to get her necessary psych care. I can truthfully say that she would literally not survived without this intense intervention.

 

All that to say, her situation was somewhat unusual (though not completely uncommon), but I did learn that I am going to maintain some familiarity with the school structure in case I am needed. (Blessedly, daughter #2 has been okay so far! And the oldest graduates shortly. :-))

 

Editing to add, I really was completely on my own for college. I had friends who had a lot of parental support. I can't say that I am necessarily a more successful adult than they are. There is something to be said for having a supportive framework behind you!


Edited by Gr8lander, 21 May 2017 - 11:07 PM.

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#56 hopskipjump

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 11:33 PM

We are not what I would consider over-involved, by any means - but in the beginning especially, I was pretty involved in dds college schedule/plans. She's a first-gen student and all of this was entirely new to all of us and she was very, very far from home. So I didn't have the confidence to leave it all in her hands when *I* didn't even know what the steps WERE to help guide her there beforehand! So, that first semester, I kept track every few weeks on grades and such, just trying to get a gauge on how things all worked and how she was handling it.

 

The second semester? I didn't look even once. The way SHE talked to me and the confidence SHE was exhibiting gave ME the confidence to let her do her thing. I did go to the portal a couple of times to monitor some financial stuff because "finances" are still a bit of an obscure concept to dd. She never SEES the money, so it just sort of lives in this bubble out of her brain - and we/she can't afford missing any important deadlines.

 

Next year I will be much more hands off because we've now BTDT at least once. I now have an idea of when things are due, and how the university goes about the process each semester. I now have firsthand knowledge of the paperwork dd will need to sign, and how the school goes about giving refunds for over-payments, or collecting for payments due. I also now know how dd sounds/acts when she's needing a lifeline vs when she is doing perfectly fine on her own. We all feel much more in control of the situation now that we've had that first year.

 

It was the same for college applications for her. Since neither dh nor I did the whole college-thing, it was all incredibly overwhelming and intense. For the next kid? Easy-peasy (comparatively). I will be a LOT more hands-off for dd2 because I have a base understanding of the process and will be able to guide her from afar and let her fill in what needs filling in and then I can just go over it afterwards and ensure the financial-bases are covered.

 

College essays are something she is practicing NOW (we didn't think that far ahead with dd1 and it was all a stressful shock. DD2 is also, thankfully, a writer... whereas the thought of writing that many words "about herself" drove dd1 into an anxiety-driven panicked paralysis).

 

No WAY could I have been that hands off for dd1. It would have driven us both out of our minds because I couldn't have even had conversations with her about what she was doing since I had zero firsthand experience with it.

 

By the time we get to kid #3's college applications, I plan to be on the beach in Tahiti sipping a margarita while he navigates the process entirely by himself (well, with his two sisters possibly helping him). :lol:  The Trials of Child #3. :smilielol5:


Edited by hopskipjump, Yesterday, 03:12 AM.


#57 Nan in Mass

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Posted Yesterday, 07:37 AM

We have found that building a ramp for our boys works better than leaving them to try to scale the cliff by themselves, getting part way, and then falling back down and having to try again with injuries. Ramps work better in our family. We help/do a lot at the beginning and once they know how to do something, encourage them to do it on their own. When they can do it without its taking a ton of time and energy, they do. We sort of leave the timing up to them. Maybe this wouldn't work if they weren't trying to do their part, but they mostly are, at least, they are as much as we are. We seem to get much better results this way than the cliff way. We've tried both.

That said, I can't imagine calling a professor. Our schools have had pretty specific channels for parents to use if they had concerns and we have stuck to those. We have overseen choosing classes in the beginning. It is complicated and mistakes cost beaucoup money.

Nan

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#58 jdahlquist

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Posted Yesterday, 10:09 AM

I agree with much of what you are saying. The parents have to have a reasonable confidence level that their kiddo can have success or they shouldn't send them in the first place. The challenge, I think, with many parents, is that they don't see themselves harming their children by doing so much for them. They view it as "helping" when the opposite is true. These types of behaviors don't initially manifest themselves when kids go off to college. In my experience, they are ingrained, established habits of over managing their children. Parents should be in the best position to assess readiness for college. It's problematic when they can't be objective in their assessments. They see their children as achieving certain things without the realization that said children would not have had those successes without a lot of hand-holding and micro managing by the parent. There is too much vicarious living done through children.

 

Every child and each family dynamic is unique, and I am not suggesting that anyone who has responded regarding their specific situation.  Having been on a college campus for over 35 years, I do see a societal shift, and I think the bolded above are extremely important points.  The universities are getting complaints from employers that new graduates don't have some basic skills in place--things in the past that would expect a 22-year old who has been to college to know and be able to do.  The solution is for the university to hire more advisors and personal coaches for students and add more non-academic components to their programs.  These are expensive undertakings.  Then, the parents say they need to manage the experience because of the high cost--which means even more programs have to be put into place to teach skills like self-reliance--which means even more costs, which calls for more parental involvement.  It just becomes a vicious cycle.


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#59 Nan in Mass

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Posted Yesterday, 11:45 AM

Every child and each family dynamic is unique, and I am not suggesting that anyone who has responded regarding their specific situation.  Having been on a college campus for over 35 years, I do see a societal shift, and I think the bolded above are extremely important points.  The universities are getting complaints from employers that new graduates don't have some basic skills in place--things in the past that would expect a 22-year old who has been to college to know and be able to do.  The solution is for the university to hire more advisors and personal coaches for students and add more non-academic components to their programs.  These are expensive undertakings.  Then, the parents say they need to manage the experience because of the high cost--which means even more programs have to be put into place to teach skills like self-reliance--which means even more costs, which calls for more parental involvement.  It just becomes a vicious cycle.

 

I believe you about there being a societal shift.  We have relatives and friends in academia who say the same thing.  And I certainly agree that there are some kinds of helicoptering that stunt growth.

 

That said, what DO you do when you yourself have suffered from the results of bad college advising and you are aware of how important course choice is and you can't really afford the extra year that bad choices could lead to?  And what DO you do if you have a late bloomer?  As far as life patterns go, starting engineering school at 19 is easier than starting at 22, when all the skills to manage totally on one's own are finally in place, I think.  Starting at 19, receiving help along the way, and graduating at 22 allows one to start adult life at 22 rather than 26.  And what DO you do if you are a really high strung family?  Offering emotional support throughout their lives is a viable option, I think?  There are some things that are easier to manage at 50 than at 40, and not really manageable all on one's own at 20 or even 30.  Again, getting on with one's life by going to college while staying in closer contact with one's parents than some of one's fellow students isn't such a bad option, I think?

 

Of course, none of this involves flying in to clean your child's room once a month, but when I hear stories like that, I wonder if something else isn't going on.  Perhaps "cleaning" is a privacy screen for delivering medicine whose prescription would be hard to transfer, or checking on a student who struggles with homesickness or depression or an eating disorder or some other thing where actually being with the student for a bit to comfort or check on them is necessary.  Or maybe the student is fine and it is the parent who needs to see the student periodically to help ease empty nest depression.

 

I wonder how much of the helicoptering is because many of us went to universities that didn't provide enough support - poor advising, poor dorm supervision, poor food, etc.  Some of us say I-survived-you-will-too, but others of us can see that we survived only by getting lucky and don't want those same odds for our children.

 

We are actually a combination of the two.  Food and dorm supervision - we survived and you will too.  Advising - we want to up the odds.  Poor professor - you'll survive but we advise you to compensate for the bad grade you will inevitably get by making sure you do extra well in other your other courses and make sure you learn the material on your own or you won't pass the next class.  Friend choice - happy to talk it over if you bring it up but it is your business.  Health issues - we want to up the odds so we are proactive and will help or will help you find the appropriate help.  Sports problems - if it is a health problem we are proactive about it but otherwise you will survive.  Internships - we want to up the odds so we try to help.  No money to play - you will survive.  No money to pay rent - we help.  No money to fix your wreck of a car - we help.  As far as we can tell, they don't have any trouble at work once they are graduated from college and working.  They are amazed at the things their workmates don't know how to do.  As far as living skills go, we continue to offer help as new things come along.  As our own parents are still doing for us.  Life problems like car problems are handled the way they always are in our clan - we try to help each other out with loads of emotional support, loans of cars and money, painting parties, do-it-yourself house repairs, combined vacations, childcare, nursing, or whatever. 

 

And I wonder if part of the cause of the societal shift is that in some areas, there are fewer good long-term options for people without a college degree.  (...which is part of the vicious circle involving poor job skills...) 

 

Nan


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#60 Jean in Newcastle

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Posted Yesterday, 12:18 PM

There is a difference, I think, between offering support behind the scenes and pushing your way front and center. I think that some parents have always provided scaffolding in the background, no matter what the era. And I think that it can be valuable and that most people would not speak against it. What has changed, I think, is the degree to which parents are asserting their role still as parents of adult children in the more visible sphere of meetings and interactions with teachers or employers. I provide my Aspie with scaffolding. I don't interject myself into his interactions with others. I do think that if he were not able to have those interactions on his own, that college would not be the best place for him. Even in our orientation for families of those in the Autism Spectrum group, that was stressed.


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Edited by Jean in Newcastle, Yesterday, 12:18 PM.

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#61 Nan in Mass

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Posted Yesterday, 12:38 PM

There is a difference, I think, between offering support behind the scenes and pushing your way front and center. I think that some parents have always provided scaffolding in the background, no matter what the era. And I think that it can be valuable and that most people would not speak against it. What has changed, I think, is the degree to which parents are asserting their role still as parents of adult children in the more visible sphere of meetings and interactions with teachers or employers. I provide my Aspie with scaffolding. I don't interject myself into his interactions with others. I do think that if he were not able to have those interactions on his own, that college would not be the best place for him. Even in our orientation for families of those in the Autism Spectrum group, that was stressed.


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"Scaffolding in the background" ... What a good way to put it!  That's what we do.  My parents did it for me.  Their parents did it for them.  Coaching on interactions with others - yes, we do that.  Actually participating with the student - no, we don't do that.  The exception was getting our high schoolers (and our extra student) signed up for community college.  I sat in on the beginning meetings with advisors, etc., especially with the extra young adult because she was absolutely petrified.  This was a person who had lived on her own and supported herself since high school, too.  She just was very unprepared and completely intimidated.  A bit more direct help was really important in her case.  Fortunately, the community college was used to it.  It was just grand to see her relax and figure out she could take care of all that on her own, after a few semesters. : )

 

Nan

 

ETA - Even in that case, I never spoke to her professors myself.  I coached her (and my own children) on what to say, but I never did the saying for them.  I can't imagine the professors being willing to talk about anything important with me.  Wouldn't that be a breach of privacy of some sort?  I don't think even the school that told the students and parents point blank that they sent grades home to the parents would have been willing to do that.  There were in between people we were supposed to contact if we suspected a problem.


Edited by Nan in Mass, Yesterday, 12:43 PM.

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#62 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted Yesterday, 12:46 PM

I believe you about there being a societal shift.  We have relatives and friends in academia who say the same thing.  And I certainly agree that there are some kinds of helicoptering that stunt growth.

 

That said, what DO you do when you yourself have suffered from the results of bad college advising and you are aware of how important course choice is and you can't really afford the extra year that bad choices could lead to?  And what DO you do if you have a late bloomer?  As far as life patterns go, starting engineering school at 19 is easier than starting at 22, when all the skills to manage totally on one's own are finally in place, I think.  Starting at 19, receiving help along the way, and graduating at 22 allows one to start adult life at 22 rather than 26.  And what DO you do if you are a really high strung family?  Offering emotional support throughout their lives is a viable option, I think?  There are some things that are easier to manage at 50 than at 40, and not really manageable all on one's own at 20 or even 30.  Again, getting on with one's life by going to college while staying in closer contact with one's parents than some of one's fellow students isn't such a bad option, I think?

 

Of course, none of this involves flying in to clean your child's room once a month, but when I hear stories like that, I wonder if something else isn't going on.  Perhaps "cleaning" is a privacy screen for delivering medicine whose prescription would be hard to transfer, or checking on a student who struggles with homesickness or depression or an eating disorder or some other thing where actually being with the student for a bit to comfort or check on them is necessary.  Or maybe the student is fine and it is the parent who needs to see the student periodically to help ease empty nest depression.

 

I wonder how much of the helicoptering is because many of us went to universities that didn't provide enough support - poor advising, poor dorm supervision, poor food, etc.  Some of us say I-survived-you-will-too, but others of us can see that we survived only by getting lucky and don't want those same odds for our children.

 

We are actually a combination of the two.  Food and dorm supervision - we survived and you will too.  Advising - we want to up the odds.  Poor professor - you'll survive but we advise you to compensate for the bad grade you will inevitably get by making sure you do extra well in other your other courses and make sure you learn the material on your own or you won't pass the next class.  Friend choice - happy to talk it over if you bring it up but it is your business.  Health issues - we want to up the odds so we are proactive and will help or will help you find the appropriate help.  Sports problems - if it is a health problem we are proactive about it but otherwise you will survive.  Internships - we want to up the odds so we try to help.  No money to play - you will survive.  No money to pay rent - we help.  No money to fix your wreck of a car - we help.  As far as we can tell, they don't have any trouble at work once they are graduated from college and working.  They are amazed at the things their workmates don't know how to do.  As far as living skills go, we continue to offer help as new things come along.  As our own parents are still doing for us.  Life problems like car problems are handled the way they always are in our clan - we try to help each other out with loads of emotional support, loans of cars and money, painting parties, do-it-yourself house repairs, combined vacations, childcare, nursing, or whatever. 

 

And I wonder if part of the cause of the societal shift is that in some areas, there are fewer good long-term options for people without a college degree.  (...which is part of the vicious circle involving poor job skills...) 

 

Nan

 

:wub:  :iagree:

 

 

Love parts of this post.

 

I've been thinking of some of the things that our extended family has done to support each other.  I have stayed at my in-laws' house several times as we've moved around, sometimes for a couple months at a time.  My in-laws have flown to where we lived to watch my young kids for a couple weeks while I had to be off on military training.  They have made a nearly annual pilgrimage to drive my kids to camp (we can fly them to their city, but the camp is remote).  They were the family who spent the weekend with my oldest after new cadet week was done, setting up a hotel room to stay in, doing his laundry while he slept, taking him shopping, and bringing him cookies.

 

A bunch of us got together to repaint a house when my BIL/SIL moved.  It was a horrendous avocado green through most of the house.  In-laws helped same couple move several times, helping to load, unload and sometimes drive the moving truck.  

 

We are sounding boards for each other.  When I first took up a leadership role in our struggling scout troop, I would talk to my MIL almost weekly about things I was working through.  Not only is he a calm, thoughtful person, but he had years of experience in the same troop role.  When my dh had his first deployment it was an era of no cell phones and no email.  I used to talk to his parents almost every day. They were missing him as much as I was, and I think our close relationship after dh and I got married had a lot to do with our talking so much about all kinds of things before I married their son.

 

Our family does a lot of editing of each other's papers.  DH, FIL, my sons and I all pass around rough drafts of articles and columns to catch errors and bad writing.  It helps to know we are being clear to have someone outside the issue read it and be able to understand our argument.

 

MIL's brother lived for years with his parents.  It started out as a money saving thing, but just became their household.  In their last years, he was a primary care giver for them and took his mom to every doctor's appointment as she went through cancer treatment.  About a year ago another brother had a serious accident and cancer diagnosis in the same week.  Again siblings rallied around, even to the extent of shopping for the doctor for his surgery who would take a non-insured patient at cash payment.  The main honcho of this effort was his sister in law, who is a nurse and knew all the medical practices and hospitals in the area.

 

My neighborhood is in the midst of military moving season.  A couple weeks ago there were 4 different moving crews in one two block section.  People are trading kids, loaning dishes, giving away clothes and books they can't move, doing laundry for each other, giving rides, watching pets, etc.  

 

 

All of this is not to say that I think college kids should get a wake up call from their mom every morning.  Or to suggest that I'd come to town to routinely clean my kid's room.  It is to say that I don't think it is necessary for people to live lives that don't lean on each other from time to time.  

 

I wanted my son to understand that it was good to go to a tutoring center or ask for a schedule change if he seemed mismatched in his course placements.  I told him stories of how much I struggled in my first college calc class and that I didn't know enough to ask for help or a course change.  Before he headed out, he got lessons in ironing and shoe shining, because that is a task we have years of experience in.  The actual ironing and shining is his duty.  I got recommendations for a storage company, but ds made the arrangements.  We arranged the plane tickets home, but he got himself to the airport and did his own RA check out.  I found some info he was lacking about a summer program, because it is a field I've been around for 30 years and I knew what search terms would find the right document.  Then I sent it to him to use as needed.

 

Sometimes our help is in pointing them towards needful tasks.  Their colleges drown them in information.  The announcement of the registration schedule is one of dozens of emails they will get that week.  One college sends out multiple emails every day alerting students of the status of a set of constantly broken elevators.  This semester, ds was having a problem registering for a math course required for his major, because his major declaration had not yet gone through.  It was a catch 22 that his adviser didn't seem able to get around.  We made suggestions of other offices that might be able to provide the needed code or help him advocate for himself.  Lots of advice, but not calling ourselves.  In the end it worked out.  

 

There are articles about helicopter parents every year around this time.  One thing I think is missing from the discussion is a consideration of what adults do to mentor and support each other.  Within families, within professions, in neighborhoods and churches, etc.  Again, I'm not talking about wake up calls and room cleaning.  But it wouldn't be out of the norm for an adviser or mentor to call a colleague and ask when an interview would be set up for someone they were helping with a possible internship placement.  

 

My father-in-law once took me aside.  He said that the year he was in Vietnam, his own in-laws had taken in his wife and son (my MIL and DH), letting them live with them and helping them through that year.  He said that he could never repay the debt he owed to them, but he could make sure that he was there for us if we needed it. 


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#63 MerryAtHope

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Posted Yesterday, 05:56 PM

There is a difference, I think, between offering support behind the scenes and pushing your way front and center. I think that some parents have always provided scaffolding in the background, no matter what the era. And I think that it can be valuable and that most people would not speak against it. What has changed, I think, is the degree to which parents are asserting their role still as parents of adult children in the more visible sphere of meetings and interactions with teachers or employers. I provide my Aspie with scaffolding. I don't interject myself into his interactions with others. I do think that if he were not able to have those interactions on his own, that college would not be the best place for him. Even in our orientation for families of those in the Autism Spectrum group, that was stressed.


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Yes, I like the way you put this--scaffolding in the background. 

 

Parents get involved in meetings or interactions with teachers...and EMPLOYERS? Wow. I could see that for a minor, or for someone with disabilities where an advocate is truly needed. 

 

This reminds me of the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Robert's Mom faxes a letter to the FBI director when Robert is trying to get a job there!

 

"Scaffolding in the background" ... What a good way to put it!  That's what we do.  My parents did it for me.  Their parents did it for them.  Coaching on interactions with others - yes, we do that.  Actually participating with the student - no, we don't do that.  The exception was getting our high schoolers (and our extra student) signed up for community college.  I sat in on the beginning meetings with advisors, etc., especially with the extra young adult because she was absolutely petrified.  This was a person who had lived on her own and supported herself since high school, too.  She just was very unprepared and completely intimidated.  A bit more direct help was really important in her case.  Fortunately, the community college was used to it.  It was just grand to see her relax and figure out she could take care of all that on her own, after a few semesters. : )

 

Nan

 

ETA - Even in that case, I never spoke to her professors myself.  I coached her (and my own children) on what to say, but I never did the saying for them.  I can't imagine the professors being willing to talk about anything important with me.  Wouldn't that be a breach of privacy of some sort?  I don't think even the school that told the students and parents point blank that they sent grades home to the parents would have been willing to do that.  There were in between people we were supposed to contact if we suspected a problem.

 

Yes, plenty of coaching when needed on what to say & how to say it, where to go, what to do, but not actually doing it for the student. Like you, the exception for us was going to the first meeting with an adviser, and I let the student do all of the talking and only asked questions at the end if the student forgot something or didn't think of something. I also go with initially to the financial aid office, and to the first or second time of purchasing books. However, I take the lead on FAFSA, and am pushy about them applying for scholarships!