Parenting to a Degree: Supporting a College Student... But Not Too Much

Sep 1, 2016

We all want our children to do well in life, and most parents want to do what they can to help. How much is too much help? 

Laura Hamilton, author of the new book "Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matters for College Women's Success," set out to answer this question. She followed a handful of women through their college years and into their 30s to find out how parental involvement helped or hurt them. 

She sorts parents into four categories--including helicopter parents, bystanders, and paramedics--depending on how often parents stepped in to help their children. 

"The girls with helicopter parents were very successful in financial and job things," Hamilton says. 

"But, for some of this kids, what was missing was this self-efficacy piece. By the time you're 25-30, you need to start having that in place. Many of these kids couldn't make decisions because their parents hadn't instilled in them the idea 'You can make these decisions by yourself.'" 

Students with parents who were "paramedics," or those who stepped in only when their child wasn't able to handle a situation on their own, were the most successful. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, she talks with host Charity Nebbe. Mirra Anson, who is Director of Academic Support and Retention at the University of Iowa, also joins the conversation.