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Helicopter parents and the disconnect of “higher” education

The Associated Press and Washington Times report on a study that challenges the stereotype concocted by some university officials about parents who take an active interest in their children’s college education. Called “helicopter parents” by college administrators, because they are perceived as hovering over their college-age children, such moms and dads have been dismissed as bothersome and unhelpful to the education of their children.

A recent study by the National Survey of Student Engagement, however, indicates that students whose parents are very involved in their lives actually are more engaged in their studies and “deep learning activities” than their classmates.

The article contains this nugget of condescending arrogance: “Educators insist there’s nothing wrong with parents taking an interest in college life.” I am sure that my colleagues in SOHP (Society of Helicopter Parents) will be relieved that the high priests of academia have decreed that our involvement in our children’s lives is not immoral.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThat’s right, I must confess that I am a “helicopter parent.” In fact, I am an Apache Longbow helicopter parent! With 4 kids in college I have more than a passing interest in what is being taught and how professors are teaching it in the classrooms that my children occupy. Twice I have had to swoop down to get the attention of administrators to rectify problems that could have and should have been resolved by simple integrity and common sense. Had my daughter not been dismissed by bureaucratic reflex I would have happily stayed hovering at a safe distance, hardly noticeable to anyone but my children.

The most egregious case had to do with a profane and foul-mouthed professor who refused to temper his crude language for the “prudes” in his class. Though I never had to fire a shot, it was impressive to see how quickly action can be taken when a parent sits across from a Dean and reads to him from his own school’s sexual harassment policy.

So here’s to all my fellow helicopter parents. May your tribe increase.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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