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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Students, Welcome to College; Parents, Go Home

  • Jim Liebelt
    Jim Liebelt
    Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
  • 2010 Aug 25
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In order to separate doting parents from their freshman sons, Morehouse College in Atlanta has instituted a formal "Parting Ceremony."

It began on a recent evening, with speeches in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. Then the incoming freshmen marched through the gates of the campus — which swung shut, literally leaving the parents outside.

As the latest wave of superinvolved parents delivers its children to college, institutions are building into the day, normally one of high emotion, activities meant to punctuate and speed the separation. It is part of an increasingly complex process, in the age of Skype and twice-daily texts home, in which colleges are urging "Velcro parents" to back off so students can develop independence.

Parents helping their students move in usually takes a few hours. Moving on? Most deans can tell stories of parents who lingered around campus for days.

Formal "hit the road" departure ceremonies are unusual but growing in popularity, said Joyce Holl, head of the National Orientation Directors Association. A more common approach is for colleges to introduce blunt language into drop-off schedules specifying the hour for last hugs.

Some undergraduate officials see in parents' separation anxieties evidence of the excesses of modern child-rearing. "A good deal of it has to do with the evolution of overinvolvement in our students' lives," said Mr. Dougharty of Grinnell. "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."

He and other student-life officials encourage parents to detach — not just at drop-off but throughout the freshman year, including limiting phone calls and text messages.

Parents, of course, know that in their head. But they still struggle to let go.

Source: New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/education/23college.html