Monday, February 15, 2010

Cut the Cord

One of the most surprising things I've found as I've transitioned to teaching is how "involved" many parents still are with their 20, 21, or 22 year-old children.  I put involved in quotes because these parents aren't involved enough to make sure students get out of bed and come to class or are prepared when they do come to class, but if there is some perceived slight against their child, they automatically call the professor or the administration (and often love to threaten to bring lawyers into the conversation).  I bring this issue up because I'm really concerned with how these students are going to function when (if?) they get jobs in the sports industry.  If they can't work out minor situations in college on their own, how are they going to deal at work?  If a peer or boss overlooks their contribution or yells at them or tells them they need to improve their work or tells them to go help park cars for an event, will they call mommy and daddy?  Are they even going to be able to live on their own and be independent?  At a university, I have to take these calls (assuming all FERPA requirements are met).  It's still an educational environment and my hope is to try to work with that student to learn to assert some independence (and with his parents to allow him to do so).  In the workplace, though, I would NEVER talk to an employee's parents (or an intern's) about that employee's performance.  All I can say is be very careful where you ask your parents to become involved.  Try to work out your situation on your own, one-on-one, in an adult manner before you even think of bringing in the parents.  To sum it up, cut the cord before you get a job.


Melissa Lewis said...

My husband used to teach in a small collage and there was a student who plagiarized on a paper so my husband gave her a zero. Then she came to class late on a quiz day so my husband didn't let her retake it as she was told that no one is allow to take the quiz if he/she is late. Anyway, she told her parents and her parents came to the school and having a little meeting with the school admin. They made my husband let her take it. It was only a 5% quiz and which she got 4 out of 5 questions wrong. I really didn't understand what the point for her to take the quiz......

MW said...

It is a shame that the administration at your husband's university didn't support him more. From what you've written, your husband was completely justified.

I had a 22-year-old senior who couldn't seem to read my office hours on my door and differentiate them from my class schedule. Short story is that in responding to an email he sent me I told him he should come to see me at the time he'd scheduled (when I wasn't in class). He sent a snotty response and wrote that his parents wanted to talk to me. I wrote back (and copied my boss, who has had faculty members' backs) and told the student I'd be happy to speak to his parents as long as he'd signed the FERPA waiver, but that I would recommend he handle this on his own since he was 22 and a graduating senior. His parents never called.

Focused said...

Hi I just had to comment on your post. I truly understand what you are saying in reference to parental involvement. I went back to college with what I thought were young adults, not children and I heard so many complaints towards the professors from students about giving a bad evaluation because they did not get such good grades in the class.

People seem to think that just because you show up for class, you should get credit, or if you are in a group project the only thing you have to do, is add your name to it. I could not believe how many students result to cheating in college rather than studying. I think the staff feels threatened to report this as do the students who work hard to study.

So I ask myself, what kind of children are we raising today? People need to take responsibility for themselves and their own actions and quit blaming their parents, the professors, government for their failures.