|Volume XXVIII Issue 16||February 6, 2003|
Students now more likely
to call mom than in years past
Jessica Patchett - Reporter
Katie Bobb, a freshman at Elon, calls her parents regularly to chat about classes, to gossip a little about who’s doing what and to mull over the day’s events and problems that inevitably arise in college life.
"I talk to my mom two times a day, which is less than last semester when we would call each other like four or five times a day. It is not that my parents are horribly distraught that I am gone, but our family talks to each other daily. I have always had a good relationship with my family but it strengthened more in college and my mom and I are better friends," Bobb said. "My parents know almost everything I do here because we have an open relationship."
Bobb’s relationship with her parents would have been a rare case just 20 to 30 years ago. The rebellious college student, eager to distance him or herself from home and from parental authority, is a stereotype of the past. Student affairs practitioners, deans of students and coordinators in parent affairs offices at large and small universities alike have noted a trend in students maintaining closer, more dependent relationships with their parents.
"Today’s students are more likely to welcome parental involvement and to rely on the judgment and advice of their parents," said Jana Lynn Patterson, associate dean of students, in her guide for student affairs practitioners, "Parent Is Not A Four-Letter Word: Parent Interaction and Student Development."
Of course, some students rarely communicate with their parents. There are many determining factors that shape parent-student relationships through the college experience. These factors include family structure, socioeconomic expectations, personality tendencies and activities in which a student chooses or refuses to participate.
"But over all, the ties between parent and child seem far tighter than they were 30 years ago," reads a Jan. 6 New York Times article, "Parents Role is Narrowing Campus Generation Gap."
"It’s the baby boomers, the soccer moms, the parents for whom the kids became their lives," said North Carolina State Parents Office Coordinator Jennifer Bell. For this reason, students may feel that their parents are more accessible, willing to assist them and trustworthy than other sources such as a university official or even peers.
Earl Danieley, president emeritus of Elon, views this as a positive trend and encourages parental involvement in students’ lives.
"It seems to me that we have moved away from a time when the college saw itself with responsibilities to a time when the student is regarded as being more independent. I am always pleased when parents come to visit... I like to see them at athletic events or dramatic or music performances," Danieley said.
"I feel that many students have close relationships with their parents. That pleases me. I see some students who seem to want to be very independent ... that is not always a good idea."
To an extent, many collegiate faculty and staff encourage parents to play a supportive role in their students lives. However, Patterson and Barb Carlton, director of student activities, agree that students should have a sense of independence and resolve conflicts and problems themselves, rather than asking their parents to "do it for them."
"We do encourage parents to have students resolve conflicts or situations, as that is part of the growth, development and learning process. Many Elon students are "adults in transition" and helping them develop autonomy skills is a process which can take time," Patterson said.
Brett Cooper, fondly known as "Coop" to many on campus, has made the choice to be involved in many aspects of student life on campus during his time at Elon. Cooper is a head resident, works for the Isabella Cannon Leadership Program, Admissions, Campus Recreation and Elon Student Television, is on the North Carolina Student Legislature, in the Model United Nations Club and is co-founder of the Resident Student Association.
While Cooper is busy every day of the week, he makes time to call his mother at least once a week and goes home to help his mother around the house about every six weeks.
"My relationship with my mother hasn't changed from when I was in high school. She just wants me to do well in everything I do ... She doesn't have a lot of involvement with me and Elon, especially since I am paying for everything, aside from being supportive and providing guidance," Cooper said.
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