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FYSS presents: “Helicopterus Parents”

Some first-year students might have a parent calling five times a day to see what they are doing or when they are coming home. Yesterday, First-Year Success Series put on an event called “Helicopterus Parentus” to help with that very problem.

Presenter and Founders Hall Director Briar Wintersteen explained that the term was in Latin because he wanted to emphasize that helicopter parents aren’t your average parents.

“They have their own special qualities,” he said, explaining that helicopter parents are especially overprotective.

The presentation was based on two books, “The Naked Roommate”, and “Real College: The Essential Guide to Student Life.”

The Naked Roommate’s definition of a “helicopter parent” is “hovering parents that circle around campus, getting way too involved in life on campus. When something is wrong, they make it right.”

Wintersteen’s presentation focused on ways students can make their own decisions without help from hovering moms and dads.

The key to this is communication, Wintersteen said.

As a freshman, parents may expect their children to get good grades, stay out of trouble, go to class and participate in extracurricular activities.

Wintersteen also explained that parents are a lifelong burden. Parents who have just sent their children off to college are in new territory. They aren’t ready to deal with an adult, he said. Parents aren’t sure how to express their feelings because they are used to teenaged children.

Wintersteen described different kinds of “helicopter parents.”

Some parents call constantly to make sure students are home or text their children in class. Others control them by using guilt, money and hypnosis. This is better known as the “fifth parent.”

But despite the crazy behavior, parents just want to say that they miss, love, and want to hear their child’s voice, Wintersteen said.

There are three ways to deal with these types of parents.

First, listen to them carefully. Second, tell them that you appreciate what they are saying and repeat their advice while doing so. The third way, Wintersteen said, is to do what makes you happy and this only works is if you are doing something reasonable.

Choosing a major can also be a problem if your parents have a future career in mind for you.

To deal, Wintersteen suggested relaxing when picking a major. Most importantly, he emphasized that you must choose your major, not your parents. Instead of talking to parents, talk to someone at the Career Center, friends or professors.

It’s also essential not to use a text message, a collect call or an e-mail to explain any life decision. It is important to explain and research why the decision is being made so it’s easier to help your parents understand.

Not filling parents in on every detail can make life easier in the long run though, Wintersteen said.

If students call and complain about not getting into a class or roommate problems, this gives helicopter parents more control, he said.

When it’s necessary to tell the parents, students should explain the solution and explain the situation in a way that makes it clear they can take care of it themselves.

Freshman Kristin Vilogi said she thought the presentation was helpful about dealing with parents.

“I thought the presentation was insightful about how parent- child relationships work while in college because it explained how best to communicate with parents.”

Freshman Jillian Vrig said her mother is a “helicopter mom” and thought the information about communication was most important.

“From this presentation, I learned that communication strategies like setting up a regular time to talk in order to deal with my helicopter mom,” she said.

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