Helicopter parents are a well-known phenomenon these days. You know, they’re the mums and dads who micro-manage every single aspect of their children’s time. They hover overhead, watch every move their children make and constantly check that their lives are going according to plan (the parents’ plan, that is).
I didn’t realise though, that the trend has moved up a gear, with parents and even grandparents of university students meddling in youngsters’ lives.
In a fascinating blog for The Guardian’s Higher Education Network, academic Afshan Jafar writes: “Some colleges and universities are now calling this breed of parents ‘lawnmower’ parents as these are parents who vow to mow down any and all obstacles and challenges in their children’s paths.’”
Apparently these parents ring university tutors to fix extensions on essay assignments, protest if their children don’t get on the courses they want and even dispute their exam grades.
I’m starting to feel like a laissez-faire mother. Actually, I’d love to interfere in my student daughter’s life but she won’t let me. If I dared ring her tutor about anything she’d be completely apoplectic. I’ve learned the hard way that if I make a suggestion about what to study or where to live she generally goes and does the complete opposite. So now, I keep quiet, let her work it out for herself and do you know what? Sometimes she actually does what I reckoned she should do in the first place.
PS. My daughter’s off to Paris (above) in September (not because I’m a lawnmower parent, I hope) and has been swapping notes with a French girl who’s studying in London this year. “But I’m having a bit of trouble learning the slang people use here,” the delightful Clemence told my daughter. “I can’t even attempt Cockney rhyming slang and the only word I’ve picked up so far is ‘innit.’”