Parents should get a grip and relish children fleeing for uni, not pander to them

PUBLISHED: 18:17 02 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:17 02 October 2019

Let your children go and have fun at university - you've done your bit and they will keep in touch when they need to, says Rachel Moore

Let your children go and have fun at university - you've done your bit and they will keep in touch when they need to, says Rachel Moore


Which camp are you in when your child leaves for university? Wail like a baby at the ‘loss’ of your child or give them a helping boot out the door? Rachel Moore says parents should be in the latter

Loathe as I am to call out other mothers and betray the sisterhood, but some really need to get a grip.

With 50% of young people now going to university, odds are that everyone reading this knows at least one mother wallowing in an abyss of despair at empty nest syndrome at the loss of her baby to 'uni life' in the last week or two.

"How will I cope without him?" one was overheard wailing. "He can't do anything for himself."

"I've lost my best friend," sniffled another. "I don't know what to do with myself."

Honestly. It's not about you. Your DAUGHTER is not your best friend. She is off to start her adult life independently making her own best friends.

Your son should, at 18, be able to do everything for himself. It was your job to send him off knowing a rinse from an eco-wash, how to knock up a quick bolognese and give a bathroom a once over.

If they're clever enough to be at university, they should have enough gumption to work out a cooker's controls.

Smothering isn't mothering; bringing up capable, confident and independent young adults is.

Life is about growing up and moving on. Pushing them out the door equipped at survival while you go off having fun with your best friend or painting the town red with your partner as a new chapter of your life begins. Job done.

At universities up and down the land these 18 and 19-year-old overgrown babies are being made to feel homesick by clingy soppy parents - Gordon Ramsay's meltdown crying when his son, Jack, went to university symptomised all that is wrong with parenting today.

These parents are turning their young adults into dependent hopeless ninnies who become entitled useless employees.

They are in constant touch - being tracked by apps revealing their exact whereabouts at any time - on their parent-funded expensive phones, expect student accommodation to be more like five-star hotels than student hovels their parents' generation shivered in for three years, and to be provided with every gadget and comfort going.

Many have never made a doctor or dentist appointment for themselves, made an official phone call or read a train timetable. Some have never set foot on a bus but been chauffeured by the parent taxi wherever they needed to be.

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The swiftness of communication means they still expect mum or dad to do everything at a distance.

An acquaintance the other week was mentally organising her schedule, listing all the 'sorting' she had to do for her 'children' before the end of the day. Her 'babies' are 25 and 23 - and one lives in another country.

Last weekend, my best friend and I drove more than 200 miles to drop off our mutual friend's daughter for her first term at university. Her mother died of cancer two years ago so, after depositing five of our own children to start undergraduate life, we thought we could be of help and had seen it all.

She was moving into brand new city centre accommodation. It was the most upmarket swanky 'student village', Its bigger rooms were even called 'penthouses'.

All grey-washed floors, low-hanging pendant lights and designer-look furniture, the shared kitchen was the most stylish. The gym and sky lounge left us speechless.

This is now the expectation of students - or rather their parents, who have not experienced the reality of student living themselves and want their little darlings, the first in the family to go to university to be cossetted by plushness at all times.

Student landlords are under increasing pressure from parents to repaint well-decorated walls, replace flooring, furniture and white goods to create an ambience of a luxury hotel than a student home for four 19-year-olds.

One father even described his son as "house proud." Go figure. A 19-year-old boy?

So much has changed in a generation. We lived in rank accommodation, were waved off to northern cities from a train platform by our parents, who were lucky if they got a weekly phone call from a pay phone 
in the campus launderette and didn't bother too much if they didn't.

This weekend I'll be with my student friends from 30+ years ago at a reunion party. We still talk about the rattling windows, dodgy gas fires and hideous sticks of furniture in the vermin infested houses we rented in the socialist republic of Sheffield in the 80s.

The rat in the oven story has become legendary. The big benefit was there was less to spoil by the great parties we threw.

It wasn't that our parents didn't care about us; they expected us to be adults, that comes with a bit of hardship and learning to make the best of situations.

The student loan system isn't helping to create self-sufficient adults, with parents having to take second jobs to contribute to university living costs, dipping into savings to help with rent and food costs and skipping holidays to top up loans.

They feel they are more involved in the process.

A child leaving to university is an exciting milestone, but one parents should have prepared them for.

Let them make their own way and make their own mistakes, providing a safety net at a distance. Then go and have your own fun.

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