I was walking to my study on campus when I came across the annual ritual: row of cars being unloaded by parents bringing their kids to college. A couple asked me if I was a college professor. They wanted to know if my colleagues and I would notify them if their kid were to get into trouble.
I reassured the couple that if I saw a student in trouble I would help, but explained that notifying parents is a surprisingly complicated matter. Help on the campus is readily available. But calling the parents of a student — like so much in our lives — runs into laws, regulations, and, yes, lawsuits.
The sociologist in me holds that family bonds do not suddenly end when a youngster goes to college, that the transition from being a kid at home to an adult on one’s own should be a gradual one, and that students need their families’ support. Colleges need to nurture family bonds but cut the hovering.