Stay involved: It’s advisable for parents to keep an eye on their wards without restricting their freedom, say counsellors
Imagine a situation where your folks are invited by your college teachers for regular meetings to discuss your attendance record, academic performance or your participation in co-curricular activities. If you are a Delhi University student, this soon become reality. The institute is planning to put in place a parents’ coordination committee to get their inputs on policymaking and recommendations for improvement in colleges.
Now, is it really a good idea to involve parents in matters related to college life? HT Education spoke to teachers and parents to find out.
Yes, it is necessary
Hindu College officiating principal Pradumn Kumar welcomes the idea. “Students often have issues related to attendance, adjusting in college, hostel life, coping with the course etc. These are sensitive and important issues which require parental intervention and support. While they should not completely take control over the lives of their wards, it is also necessary that they do not leave their children at the mercy of unwanted influences,” says Kumar.
He is planning to start regular discussions with parents related to the progress of their children in college. “We plan to hold meetings with parents before and after the semester exams in November and January, so that they can pursue higher education without any distractions,” adds Kumar.
Citing examples of why parental interference is a must for college students, Rajendra Kumar, vice principal of Sri Venkateswara College, says, “One student had failed his exams and his parents were not aware of it. In another instance, a student was caught stealing bags and selling them. He had been telling his parents that he was working part-time.”
How much is too much?
According to NK Chadha, head, department of psychology, DU, Indian society is symbolised with values of interdependence and the Indian family set-up reflects this. Hence, it is not advisable for parents to completely let free their wards and not interfere in their academic and social lives once they enter college.
Adolescence is a period of transition for the wards and during this stage they are dealing with various dilemmas such as finding their self-identity and making a mark in society. “However, to fully control them and handle their lives in terms of what time to go to college, when to return, when to study, when to talk to their friends, etc will cripple their sense of identity and will cause them to become antagonistic to their parents and rebellious. It can also lead to total dependence on their parents, so much so that they will not be able to take any decision in life with confidence,” he says.
Elaborating on one of the issues in a college student’s life which requires parental support and supervision, Chadha says,” The child’s participation in lectures and classes is important. Parents should check if their wards are attending lectures. This can be done through informal means like talking to their wards once they are back home and discussing what happened during the day, also showing interest in their children’s progress. Also, parents should be considerate at this stage to see if their children are facing problems in public speaking, forging healthy bonds of friendship etc.”
Some institutions follow the concept of mentorship where mentors are assigned to the students who keep in touch with their parents and inform them about the progress of their wards. “Apart from this, provision should be made for direct interaction of parents with the professors at least once a year. The college can also organise some seminar/workshops to allow students to engage with their parents in some activity related to their academics,” adds Chadha.
What the folks have to say
College students are mature enough but lack the experience which their parents have. “Students in college should not be given unbridled freedom but freedom with responsibility. Parents should give overall guidance on moral and financial issues, ie how much their wards should spend in college so that it is within the financial resources of the parents,” says Krishan Chander, a parent.
“There is no point in creating a policy that does not help the students to be independent,” says Urvashi Dewan, another parent.
Delhi University students not in favour of the move
I think parents should not be involved in matters related to college. At this stage of life, parents should let the children deal with their problems independently, as it prepares them to face the world.
Parents’ involvement in their children’s school life is acceptable, but when it comes to college, their interference should be limited. But, most Indian students are financially and emotionally dependent on their parents so the involvement will persist.
Being a college student means being independent. College is the time when students learn to be responsible and self-dependent right from filling forms to paying fees. So, we should be allowed to be on our own.
As told to Aanchal Bedi