Saturday, July 28, 2012

Parents Accompanying Children

It is that time of the year again. Manipal is swarmed with a very characteristic species of people – parents. For the thousands of boys and girls getting admitted to various courses in various colleges, counselling followed by commencement of classes sees thousands of parents accompanying their children, spending a day or two, sometimes more, and return back after ‘settling’ their kids. Increasing number of parents during this season is a testimony to the love, care, worry and all those feelings which come in the package of parenting. But another question looms large – is this practice tantamount to ‘spoon feeding’? Is this practice getting perceived increasing dependence?

Certainly admissions are stressful affairs for parents and students alike. Emotional stress regarding leaving home, going to a far off place usually, staying for the first time in a hostel, getting exposed to all good and bad elements present in any educational set up and a host of other factors. There is financial stress, assuming for a considerable chunk, given the exorbitant admission costs, boarding costs, costs of books and notebooks and so on and so forth. Amidst all this stress, ranks highest the concern of parents about how their children will fare, academically, socially and above all as a human being.

Thus the concerned mother wishes to see the hostel room. Thus the concerned father wishes to talk to the teachers. The concerned brother wishes to see the locality and its safety. The concerned uncle wishes to see the quality of food provided. All said and done people most of the times tend to overdo all of these. The protectiveness and possessiveness of parents sometimes spills over. One might argue there is no harm in it or that it is for the good, but what it is leading to is producing cry babies a good number of times.

Letting go or giving independence are very profound concepts. And it does not come easily. But once the occasion for it arrives it has to be done and it should be done amicably. It can be safely assumed that boys and girls who come to Manipal are all beyond 18 years of age. Hence the question, are parents justified in accompanying young adults in every step of their admission? Should they be staying for a week to help their kid acclimatise? Are parents justified in making sure to provide homely comforts in a hostel or college?

One can observe two sets of parents, ones who accompany yet allow and make sure that their children do all the running around, find things for themselves, fill out forms themselves, buy goods from market themselves and in the process guide themselves to independence. Another large chunk of parents are seen to be filling forms themselves, doing all the shopping themselves and providing say packaged food that will last six months (yes believe me it happens), viewing all hostel rooms just to check if one is little larger than the rest, and in the process sometimes embarrassing their children and fostering their dependence. And then there are parents who owing to work, lack of leaves, financial constraints, cannot accompany their children to Manipal.

There is no perfect parenting technique, but which of the above sounds better?


  1. I'll start with my own example. While I didn't want my father to talk to any of my hostel inmates out of sheer embarrassment, but he was there for a bit of basic shopping. On a normal day, I would have asked him to leave in a day, but when I was just 1935 KMs away from home, all but 21 years with no known faces around, I just couldn't let him go. Even after his 3.5 days of stay. It was not easy, not easy at all.

    And I would say, parents should let their children do the form-fillings & all and be there for a few days. What's wrong in being there when you know, the same children are going to be 'guests' for the rest of the lifetime (atleast for some uncountable years) in their own homes - Just quoting you from your last post!!!

  2. Subhajit Mishra - well said. There is no harm and even desirable to some extent for parents to come and see the place where their children will spend some valuable and formative years of their life. Afterall they need a sense of security, however superficial it be. However getting too involved, like filling up forms, setting hostel rooms, asking for rooms bigger by one feet, trying to forge friendships, becomes a bit too much. That should be discouraged.
    I am of the view that parents should, and my parents did, plan couple of vacations to the place of study. Its a good feeling.


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