It’s storming here so the dog is wandering around, and I’ve had a stressful week so there’s not a lot of sleep to be had.

I’m curious about helicopter parents and privacy. Today, one of my co-workers talked to the parent of a 20-year-old girl who has been accepted to a prestigious university in England – we’ll call it Smockslord – and yet the mother says that her daughter is away at camp, so she is answering the daughter’s cell phone and email. We 25- to 28-year-old advisors weren’t surprised that the mom called to try to manage her daughter’s acceptance (that, unfortunately, happens all the time), but that the girl had voluntarily given her email password to her parents. None of us could imagine our parents having that kind of access to our lives at age 20 (especially not then!) or earlier.

And then I thought, but the parents do that on purpose. They probably set up their kids’ emails for them, teach them how to use it, and get their kids used to the fact that everything they send is monitored. These kids grow up thinking it’s totally normal for their parents to do everything for them, even in college. I hope that the kid picks up a hidden email account at some point, so they can send dirty jokes to their friends and complain that their lives suck etc. without their parents breathing down their necks. But for the most part, the kids just expect their parents to be calling the travel agent to book the flight, calling the advisor to ask how the grades will transfer and if insurance is included, and figuring out what to pack. The parent has to know these things because the student has to know. Not only do the kids have no sense of self-efficacy, they have no expectation of privacy or appreciation for it.

Of course I’m talking about a small percentage of students in a high SES (high enough to be aware of and find money for study abroad opportunities); I’m sure the majority of 20-year-olds out there areĀ conscientious, capable kids. But some of them call their parents from Australia to say that the rest of the orientation group left them behind when the group was around a corner five feet away (true story), and it’s because their parents made them that way.