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More questions about dealing with meddling parents?  Here's where to find the answers in

My Roommate Is Driving Me Crazy!

Q:  My roommate is in serious trouble and needs help.  Should I tell his parents?

A:  See page 164

Q:  My roommate's parents are really nosy.  How can I get them to back off from giving me the third degree?

A:  See page 143

Q:  What if my parents want to get involved in my roommate issues? 

A:  See page 180

Helicopter Parents

Are your parents hovering over your every move?  Is your mom calling your cell phone every five minutes? Is your dad sending you "urgent" text messages to ask how you're doing?   While college may be an exciting time for you, remember that for your parents, it can be a bit scary and sad.   That's not to say that having over involved parents isn't incredibly annoying!   But, it helps to understand that your parents are going through a big life transition too.

Now is the time to renegotiate your relationship, establish new boundaries, and let them know the best way they can support you. Here are some tips to help you gently tell your parents to back off and give you space to grow.


Agree on convenient times to talk.   Your parents need to hear from you on a regular basis, otherwise they will hound you to no end.  Together, decide when and how often to talk. Some families may chat daily, while others will touch base once a week, or once a month. Whatever the agreement is, stick to it. If you don't follow through with your end of the bargain you'll lose credibility with your parents.  


Set boundaries.   If your parents agree on convenient times to talk and then they break the agreement, it's time for you to set boundaries.   Whether it's your parents or your roommate, you teach others how to treat you by what you allow.  If your parents call at inconvenient times and you keep taking the call, you're teaching them it's okay.  Granted, this needs to be done with the utmost respect, but setting boundaries is also how you gain respect.  Ask if it's an emergency, and if not, say you will talk at the agreed upon time, or ask the reasoning behind breaking your agreement.  Make it a conversation, not a rant.  If necessary, work out a new schedule that everyone can stick to.  


Communicate your needs.   What kind of support do you need and want from your parents?  Are you looking for advice, or just someone to listen?   Do you want to know what's going on at home?   Are there topics that are off limits?   Whatever it is, you need to make it clear.  If not, your parents may unwittingly offend you only because they have no idea how to best support you.  


Finish the story.   If something upsetting has happened and you call your parents to talk about it, finish the story! That means if you only call them when you are upset and never update them about how the issue was resolved they are left thinking you are still falling apart. That reconfirms for them that you lack maturity and they will continue to hover.      


Make the case for independence.   Your parents want the best for you and most have a hard time letting go only out of concern for your well-being.   Make the case for your growing independence by explaining how important it is that you learn to be responsible by having the room to fail.  You will make mistakes.  Part of maturing is learning how to recover from failure.  Share with them that you can never learn to take care of yourself if they are too over protective.                


Be accountable.   In order to earn your independence, you must show that you're responsible and accountable.   Own your mistakes 100 percent, let you parents know what you learned and what you will do differently next time.  And no fair asking them to bail you out!  You can't ask for independence only when it's convenient.  You have to weather your own storms.  As you do, be sure to share your successes too!  


Show appreciation.   Acknowledging all your parents have done for you goes a long way to easing the transition in your relationship.   Let them know how much you appreciate their sacrifices, concerns, and trust in you.   Ask questions and offer encouragement for new things they are doing now that you're not there, especially if they are now empty nesters.         


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