Why this shift towards clinginess? According to Houston Dougharty, vice president of student affairs at Grinnell College, “A good deal of it has to do with the evolution of overinvolvement in our students’ lives. These are the baby-on-board parents, highly invested in their students’ success. They do a lot of living vicariously, and this is one manifestation of that.”
In response, many universities are developing “goodbye” ceremonies to help give a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, hint that it’s time to go. Some have luncheons for parents, so students have a chance to meet their new roommates without interference. One college literally closed parents outside the gate. In the age of texting and Skype, parents can still have a lot of interaction in a student’s daily life, but colleges and universities are doing what they can to send the message to parents that it’s time for the students to start developing independence.
I’ve joked for years that late-teenage kids act up not only out of their own frustration, but to frustrate parents, as well. It makes the break easier for both generations. Kids should crave independence. We should be ready to let them have it. We’ve spent 17 or 18 years teaching them to be responsible, make good choices, and take care of themselves. That’s our job as parents. Let them test their sea legs.
We love them, so we wish to imbue them with all the knowledge we have, to somehow catapult them ahead, bypassing all the crappy stuff we lived through. If we did that, then they’d bypass all the wonderful experiences, too. Eating pizza with friends until you’re sick? Not good. Laughing to the point of tears with those friends? The best.
My brother-in-law laughs that his parents never said, “Don’t do…!” or, “Remember to do…!” as he left the house. It was always, “Make good choices!” Guess what? Chances are they will.