Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Tank" Parents

The Daily Progress had an interesting article yesterday about UVA’s orientation for parents. UVA administrators are concerned about college student parents who are too involved in the lives of their children. Whereas they used to speak about "helicopter" parents who hover over their children, they now speak of "tank" parents who want to be on the ground with their children.

Reflections: What’s wrong with parents hovering over their children or being on the grond with them, especially when they are a mere 18, 19, or 20 years old? Do university administrators expect parents to pay thousands of dollars in tuition, room, and board for the education of their children and then not hold any expectations for the quality of their child’s experience? If parents are not to hover, and the university abdicates any in loco parentis role, who is responsible for these young adults? The implied answer, of course, is that they are to act like autonomous, independent adults. These are the same administrators who will later lament the problems of sexual harrassment, bigotry, and under-age drinking by young adults on campus.

The same day of the article, I had my Monday staff meeting with our interns. We are reading J. R. Miller’s book Home-Making (originally published in 1882; reprinted by Vision Forum, 2004-06), discussing a chapter each week. Our chapter for Monday was "The Children’s Part," and it could not have expressed a more diametrically opposite view than that of the UVA administrators.

Miller encourages children (even into young adulthood) to seek the counsel of their parents:

The advice of godly and loving parents never wrecks souls. Thousands are wrecked because they will not be guided by it, but none by following it. The children that speak every thought, every hope, every ambition, every plan, every pleasure in the ear of their parents and consult them on every matter, will live safely. At the same time they will confer great happiness upon their parents by confiding so fully in them, for it is a great grief to parents when a child does not confide in them and turns away to others with the sacred confidence of his heart (pp. 133-34).

Long live "tank" parents.


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