Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Put That Traffic Cone Down, Dear, And Go To Your Room

Britain’s universities are to allow pushy parents to act as agents for their children, directly handling admissions decisions and negotiations – and, increasingly, they are being allowed to take part in their children’s interviews.

The so-called phenomenon of ‘helicopter parents’ is on the increase, according to Frank Furedi, professional rent-a-quote academic and professor of sociology at the University of Kent.

“All universities now have to take the parent factor into account. On university open days you can see more parents attending than children,” he said. “There is a powerful sense of infantilism, where parents can’t let go.”

Professor Furedi warned that universities were in danger of becoming “schools for biologically mature children” if parental interference continued to increase.

These over-involved parents reflect the rise of consumerism in universities, explained Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at Lancaster University Management School. “These horrific control freaks are paying more, so they think they can demand more,” he said.

The Nev Filter tried asking some prospective students what they thought of having their parents trailing their every move at university.

“Let me handle this, love,” said one mother whose son we rang. “Damien is very glad that his father and I care enough about his future happiness to wake him up in the morning, drive him to lectures, sit in, ask questions, do his coursework, take his exams, veto his choice of friends, tell him when he’s had enough fun for one evening and vet his potential girlfriends. Of course, we would be failing in our duty as loving, responsible parents if, when the time comes, we didn’t attend his job interviews, go to work with him, find him a suitable wife, go with them on their honeymoon, and tell him when – and how - to have children when we feel it’s the right time.”

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