Abigail Sullivan Moore



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College time for independence

For some, a friend request from mom or dad could be the worst thing that’s ever happened.

We all know parents sometimes tend to tag their kids in naked baby pictures or post embarrassing statuses, but for those of us in school and away from home, accepting those friend requests may not be a bad thing if done correctly.

A new book titled The iConnected Parent: Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up by Barbara K. Hofer and Abigail Sullivan Moore explores the use of parents communicating with their children once they’ve left home.

With the many communicative technologies we have today, such as Facebook, Skype and Twitter, staying connected with parents who may be hours away has become easier than ever.

Hofer and Moore, however, suggest that parents and students may be taking our constant access to communication to an extreme.

College is a time for growth and maturation, and part of that process for a student is branching out on their own and learning to function as an independent adult.

The book suggests that students and parents need to spend less time e-mailing or texting from miles away and more time exploring themselves and their surroundings, especially when it comes to students.

Some students are relying too much on their parents once they leave home, calling constantly for advice and help with school work.

Instead of making a friend to ask or even doing a Google search, students call their parents for quick and easy answers to life’s questions.

Conversely, parents are using their access to try to control their children’s lives, reminding them to study, making sure they eat and sleep regularly and warning them of the perils of drinking.

One instance in the book even told of parents driving all the way to campus to pick up their daughter and bring her home for the weekend after she drank too much.

Hofer told Inside Higher Ed that the average college student has contact with his or her parents 13.4 times per week, and studies have found that those who have contact with their parents the most tend to be the least independent.

The authors suggest that while contact should be kept, it should be limited, and both parents and students need to allow each other space.

Mooretold The Globe and Mail that she calls her son in college once a week for a chat, just to check in and exchange stories.

All of us have dealt with leaving the nest, and we think Moore and Hofer are correct in their findings.

As a college student, you’re going to make mistakes, and part of the university experience is not having mom or dad there to fix them.

Students need to learn to solve their problems on their own, and parents need to learn how to let their kids develop into young adults.

We aren’t saying cut all contact with your parents or guardians — obviously, they love you and raised you and deserve to hear from you — but we do think the contact should be limited so students don’t find themselves hindering their growth by constantly relying on their parents.

Our advice: Make friends, make mistakes, have fun and strive to find the perfect balance between too much and not enough chat time with your parents.

--Our Stance, UCF Central Florida Future, September 12, 2010

Abigail Sullivan Moore