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Are You Kidding Me? Parents as Partners In the PSE Experience. Brooke White, Director - Student Development & Support Beth Oakley, Director - Educational Development Centre. What has changed in the relationship between university students and their parents?. Relationship changes.

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are you kidding me parents as partners in the pse experience

Are You Kidding Me?Parents as Partners In the PSE Experience

Brooke White, Director - Student Development & Support

Beth Oakley, Director - Educational Development Centre

relationship changes
Relationship changes
  • Technology - instant and constant communication
  • Prolonged period of adolescents
  • Parents and their students welcome the increased level of involvement and communication
story sharing
Story sharing
  • Groups of 4-5
  • Discuss a unique circumstance that your university experienced with a “helicopter parent”
  • How did you resolve it?
survey says
Survey says……
  • National Survey of College Parent Experiences (2006)
    • High level of communication
  • College Parents of America Survey
    • 74% of current college parents communicate at least 2-3 times per week while they are at college/university
    • 34% contact on a daily basis
    • 90% use cell phones
    • 58% use email frequently
college parents of america survey
College Parents of America Survey
  • 29% instant messaging
  • 7% regular mail
  • 90% attended parent orientation
  • 75% visit campus at least once or twice a semester
  • 17% visit once a month or more
parent student contact
Parent & student contact
  • 72% of respondents agree:
  • “I feel that my child’s college/university includes parents in the school community”
how should universities respond
How should universities respond?
  • Embrace rather than push away
  • Look for the positives of having them involved
  • Let go of telling them to “let go”
  • Accept that the consumer attitude is here to stay
  • Forward thinking universities can channel the involvement positively and productively
parent involvement questions of concern
Parent involvement -questions of concern
  • Academics - 34%
  • Finances - 24%
  • Career planning - 12%
  • Health and Safety - 12%
  • College Parents of America Survey (2006)
students most requested advice or assistance from parents
Students’ most requested advice or assistance from parents
  • Finances - 35%
  • Academics - 19%
  • Health & Safety - 5%
parents contacting universities
Parents contacting universities
  • Top 3 reasons identified by parents as to why they contact universities
    • Concern for their student
    • To resolve an issue
    • To complain
increase in parent interaction attributed to
Increase in parent interaction attributed to:
  • Concern for safety
  • Student development
  • Consumerism perspective
  • Technology
the emergence of the helicopter parent
The emergence of the “Helicopter Parent”
  • Media Stories
    • ABC -Do Helicopter Moms Do More Harm Than Good?
    • Newsweek -parents buying text books and follow syllabi
    • Globe and Mail - parents handing out resumes at career fairs
  • Parent Groups
    • College Parents of America, Arlington Virginia
  • Web Support Groups
helicopter parents
“Helicopter Parents”


  • Took their children to sports practice and games
  • Took their children to lessons, music, dance
  • Arranged for tutors for their children
  • Talked to children’s teachers about their grades
  • Advocate for students with disabilities
  • Use the phrase “we” when discussing details of a request for your child, or when discussing child’s performance
helicopter parents16
“Helicopter Parents”
  • What may have been considered “involved” in their grade school years, could very well become helicopter behaviour when in university/college
  • Sometimes occurs when parents see education as an economic investment and they want to ensure that their investment “pays off”
initial university college responses to these behaviours
Initial university/college responses to these behaviours
  • “parent bouncers”
  • Parent liaison offices
  • Don’t call them, they’ll call you
  • Parents given the strong message that it’s time to “let go”
emerging philosophy from the universities
Emerging philosophy from the universities
  • More attempts to foster the relationship with parents to make them our partners and utilize their close relationships in more positive ways
  • Orientation programs, parent websites, chats, listservs, parent/family weekends
typical parent program content of the 1990 s
Typical parent program content of the 1990’s
  • The provision of a variety of information about campus life sprinkled with advice on letting go and allowing students to be the adults that we expect them to be
  • Made assumptions that parents hadn’t changed when in fact they had
u of windsor parent program
U of Windsor - parent program
  • 20 year history
  • Designed to compliment student orientation and occupy parents
  • Eventually recognized that it is also a time of transition for parents
  • Provided programming that we thought would benefit the parent and the student
u of windsor parent program in the beginning
U of Windsor - parent program - in the beginning
  • Initially - heavy on student development theory
  • Utilized lectures and skits to illustrate types of transition issues faced by new students and their families
u of windsor parent program embracing change
U of Windsor - parent program -embracing change
  • As parental involvement grew, the program was revamped to provide more balance between factual information and student development information
  • Although received with strong reviews, more changes were made
recognize and capitalize on the the student parent bond
Recognize and capitalize on the the student/parent bond
  • Parents were still being “intrusive”
  • Communication from campus community told us that others were also experiencing this
  • Realization that parents and students today now have a very close bond and are interdependent
embrace parents as partners
Embrace parents as partners
  • Began to examine ways that we could encourage parents to act as our partners (coaches/mentors to their students rather than “fixers”)
  • Support our efforts to assist students to become independent and confident problem solvers and self advocates
campus consultations
Campus consultations
  • Collaborate with campus community about the nature of their interactions with parents
  • Provide them with information on the characteristics of today’s students and their parents
  • Develop other means for communicating with parents
  • Goal is to best serve the student, the parent and ourselves
benefits of embracing parents as partners
Benefits of embracing parents as partners
  • Reinforcement of just-in-time information
  • Make the information meaningful to their own experiences
  • Help to keep expectations realistic by being up to date with university expectations
  • Ask for students input
meeting parents current needs
Meeting parents’ current needs
  • Consider what parents want and need to know
  • Sequence the information based on Maslow’s hierarchy of need theory
  • Develop learning outcomes
  • Learning outcomes + relevant information for parents = positive development for students
consider varying parent populations
Consider varying parent populations
  • What do they need to know based on who they are?


  • Of first generation students
  • Of students with disabilities
  • Who are university grads
  • Of students living in residences
  • Of students commuting
  • Of international students
when do we really need them to be involved
When do we really need them to be involved?

Issues surrounding

  • physical and mental health
  • financial concerns
  • crisis situations
parent service providers programming
Parent service providers: programming
  • Parent Orientations
  • Parent handbooks and resource guides
  • Parent receptions
  • Parent websites
  • Listservs
  • Telephone help lines
  • Newsletters -paper and electronic
programs services
Programs & services
  • Parent weekends
  • Technology based communications
    • Emails -weekly, monthly, biannually
    • Monthly webcasts, pod casts,
    • Online workshops
    • Message boards for advice and feedback
    • Parent councils -more U.S. based
final words of advice
Final words of advice
  • Be clear and upfront about your desire to partner
  • identify learning outcomes you are targeting
  • Provide easy to understand information about student development
  • Provide a consistent philosophy and desired outcomes across campus
final words
Final words
  • Develop crisis management protocols for communication with parents
  • Keep in touch with your students and ask them what they need parents to know
  • Listen, listen, listen to parents’ concerns
  • Keep up to date on resources
web resources
Web resources

University of Windsor Parent Program

National Resource Centre for First Year Experiences

National Association for Student Personnel Administators

National Orientation Directors Association

additional resources
Additional Resources
  • National Survey of Parent Programs
  • APPI – Administrators Promoting Parent Involvement
  • New Directions for Student Services
    • Consumers, Adversaries and Partners: Working with the Families of Undergraduates. Number 94 Summer 2001
    • Serving the Millennial Generation. Number 106, Summer 2004