The Ultimate Threat: Parents

For any Student Affairs department, I would be willing to guess that one of our commonalities would be dealing with parents who are unsatisfied about something with the University/College that is affecting their student. During my first semester at the College of Saint Benedict, I have dealt with one parent phone call and have been threatened with a parent phone call by a few different students. What was interesting about the two situations where the students used their parents as a threat was that both situations did not need parent interference.

While one resident was upset with a housing policy, I almost felt betrayed by the other resident. In this situation I had helped the resident move out of her room and into the room type that she requested. I felt that we had built a relationship through the situation, but when she emailed me about a charge on her account she automatically asked me who her parents should call to resolve the issue. In my response, I told her that I would check into the charge and that her parents did not need to call anyone at this point. This got me thinking about the whole concept of Helicopter Parents. It is possible that our students might be the issue and are the ones who are turning their parents into this stereotype. They may be tricking us all into thinking that they cannot deal with these situations on their own or out smarting us by passing off the responsibility to their parents.

One of the best pieces of advice that I got in grad school was that supporting the parent is supporting the student. Overall, I highly enjoy talking to parents because it is something that does not stress me out nor frighten me. If a parent is mad at a policy or an office, it is good that they call us. It allows us to give them more context about any given situation and help them understand why we do the things we do.

This semester has taught me that students are all too willing to get their parents involved instead of problem solving on their own. They are doing nothing more than or less than I was taught to expect, but we forget about all the students who are dealing with situations on their own and not using their parents. Overall, there are more students than we get parent phone calls. Unfortunately, parent phone calls and meetings stand out more than the student who is managing situations on their own. My challenge to you is to start recognizing the student who is taking the time to challenge themselves and problem solve on their own. For every parent phone call you get, there are twice as many students appreciating the experience and trying to find the answers to solve situations on their own. 

Katie LaSota 

Student Affairs - the First Years

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