As the latest wave of helicopter moms and doting dads cramp their kids space (and style) at college, universities are fighting back. Many universities are creating activities and ceremonies specifically designed for parents that are meant to symbolically punctuate and speed-up the dreaded separation process. It’s part of an increasingly complex process universities face in today’s internet age—where Skype and text check-ins have become the norm for parents. Colleges are concerned and urging parents to back off so their kids can get a healthy dose of independence.
In order to separate parents from their freshman sons, Morehouse College in Atlanta has instituted a formal “Parting Ceremony.” Soon after speeches were delivered in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, incoming freshmen proudly marched through the school’s tall campus gates, which literally swung shut leaving parents outside—a staging of the separation which must now take place between parents and their children.
Grinnell College in Iowa has also implemented a “Parting Ceremony” where students sit on one side of the bleachers, parents on the other. As the president welcomes the incoming class of 2014, he turns his back to the parents—a symbolic act meant to inspire an “aha moment!” according to Houston Dougharty, vice president of student affairs. Soon after the ceremony ends, moms and dads are frankly urged to leave the campus.
Parents, of course, know they have to let go at some point. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy process.
What do you think about these “Parenting Ceremonies?” Is it right for universities to interfere in the painful separation process?