COLUMN: To parents, don’t worry, be happy

By Joseph Lamberson

Your kids will be fine. Yes, it is undoubtedly their first time away from home. Yes, they have never done laundry by themselves before. And yes, they are the most special person in your entire world. But as a parent you must realize what it takes to grow and learn on a college campus.

College is about experience, both in the classroom and out. This University has an atmosphere of openness and challenge that resonates through Campustown, reminding students they are safe to try new things and meet new people. That openness to challenge, however, is only effective if students are willing. That willingness does not come with frantic phone calls from worried parents.

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As a Resident Advisor and fellow student, I’ve seen my fair share of fun, albeit absolutely insane parents. In the days of technology and text messaging, mom and dad can always reach you, and are constantly upset if you don’t reply immediately. Seeing sixty residents interact in their own environment, I’ve come to realize that we all do things that we aren’t proud of. Sometimes it’s best that you don’t hear what your kids are doing.

Yesterday’s students dealt with so-called helicopter parents, always hovering around, ensuring that their baby was someone’s top priority. Now we are faced with a new breed – the stealth bomber parent – which can swoop in with absolutely no notice and destroy whole cities — or any shred of independence — in their wake. Champaign, Urbana and the University have been helping students become adults for a little while now, and they have handled the problems of children as special as yours in the past. Trust us, this is what we do.

Also, if your child does have a problem, dealing with it on their behalf does not help in the long run. Have them call an resident adviser or talk to an administrator. We are all very connected and, I assure you, interested in your baby’s well being. Besides, it serves as a lesson in adulthood.

One of the first lessons I learned when engaging my residents was that peer pressure works both ways in college. When we were young, each of us was told it only leads to negative acts like smoking or drug use. In college, a friend can be the person who saves you from having that next drink, taking that drunk drive or doing something really stupid. That is not to say that your student will never be tempted, but that it takes a great deal of care and character to be a friend around here.

We are not kids any more, and this place is as safe as any to grow and learn. To put it in terms of our childhood, the University is a giant, intellectual Chuck E. Cheese’s, intended for us to play and learn. As such, you as parents are yet again left at the table while we play in the ball pit, but I assure you, we will always be home for pizza (and maybe a few more tokens). Be supportive, be open, and enjoy college with us.

Joeseph Lamberson is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected]