UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | June 19, 2024

Parenting continues well into child’s college career

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College is supposed to be a time where students break away from their parents and learn independence and responsibility; nowadays, that isn’t the case.

More and more students are living dependent on their parents. Nothing has changed since they were kids, except for the fact that they’re now in college.

“This generation was raised by helicopter parents,” said Katherine Mallon, sociology lecturer at Dixie State University. “Parents are constantly around their children, even as their children grow into adulthood.”

More than 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 29 were surveyed by researchers at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. Fifty two percentof those surveyed said they have daily contact with their parents, while 34 percent said their parents are more involved in their lives then they want them to be.

“My mother is constantly in my life,” said Alex Anderson, a sophomore CIT major from Pleasant Grove. “She’s always bugging me to do things or telling me what I should be doing with my sex life. I’m 24.”

There are many reasons why parents are still actively involved in their child’s life, even well into adulthood. Sometimes, the kid is the problem.

“I lived with my parents until I was 26,” said Amanda Smith, a junior English major from San Francisco. “They didn’t charge me rent and paid my phone bill and for my food. The only thing I had to worry about was the insurance on the car they gave me. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice.”

Smith’s case isn’t unique. More parents are having trouble convincing their adult children to get out of the house. Many parents aren’t charging their children rent,pushing them to find a job,or go to school full time. However, some parents are hesitant to let their children grow up.

“These parents have been a full-time caretaker for nearly their whole life,” said Jill Bryan, a family and consumer science instructor. “It’s a frightening transition to move from that role.”

Shedding the role of full-time caretaker can also be an exciting time for people. Parents can focus on their previous ambitions and goals, giving them motivation to “find themselves” once again.

However, there are parents who are too scared to focus on their own relationship as a married couple.

“They often don’t think they know each other anymore,” said Valerie Carlson, a psychology lecturer. “They’re worried they may have grown apart and that they won’t have anything in common anymore. They’re also concerned about the possibility of eventually getting a  divorce. So, they let their kids stay at home.”

Parents who use their child as a way to protect themselves from a dysfunctional marriage are doing a lot of damage to the grown-up child, Mallon added.

“When students finally do move out, they can have misconceptions about relationships and how they should work,” Carlson said. “This may lead to issues in their social lives.” 

Students can still learn to be independent, even if they are living at home. Getting a part-timejob helps the student become more self-reliant, as does paying rent or buying their own groceries. Doing this prepares students for life after college when they’re living on their own.

Some students might not be ready for the world outside of their parent’s home. It’s hard to say exactly when the student is ready for independence.

“It might be when they’re 18 or 28,” said Mallon. “It’s really up to the students. However, you should try to have some level of independence early on in life.”