By now your college student has settled into the dorm and adjusted to campus life. Despite the relief you feel, are you surprised to discover that letting go is more difficult than you imagined? Even with the time constraints and daily pressures that you experience as a member of the Sandwich Generation, are you ambivalent about cutting the apron strings?

You may be stuck in a new phenomenon that falls under the colorful moniker, Helicopter Parent. If you find yourself 'hovering' over your kidult, micromanaging from afar or attempting to protect him or her from life’s ups and downs, you fit the description perfectly.

Is it technology - cell phones, email and instant messaging - as some say, that keeps parents overly involved, or is something else at work here? Maria worries, “Since my daughter left for college I realize that I’m far too enmeshed with her. I like knowing what's going on in her life, but I'm afraid of keeping her closer than is psychologically healthy. I’m trying to step back some and minimize our contact – I think it's best for the emotional growth of both of us.” Like Maria, you can do this, too.

1. If you want information, contact the parent-relations specialist that many of the colleges now employ. The telephone hotlines and email support services that they provide allow you to stay connected in a healthy way.

2. Adjustment to communal living – roommates, dorms, personality differences - takes time. Be more supportive and less directive as your sons and daughters go about learning new problem solving skills.

3. Your adult children will be faced with many choices about courses, assignments, extra curricular activities. Be supportive, but let them make their own decisions and then deal with whatever consequences occur. It’s been said before, but experience is a great teacher.

4. Make sure that parents’ weekend is on your agenda. You'll meet others who understand exactly what you are going through. This is a natural and positive means by which to feel reassured that your children are adjusting to their new home environment.

5. Resist taking on chores that now should fall to your kidults. As much as washing their clothes and cleaning their rooms have been part of your job description for many years, it’s now time to pass the baton.

6. Focus on your kidult’s positive qualities and think of the reasons to support their evolving and unique ideas. Remember that part of their job in life right now is to learn more about the joys and responsibilities of freedom and independence.

7. Take courses so that you have some common areas of interest to discuss with your children. Or better still, discover what you feel passionate about, enroll in the college classes that will stimulate you and begin to follow your own dreams.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. In the end, having your emerging adult children be accountable for their own actions facilitates their personal development, sense of self-sufficiency and positive self-esteem. Isn’t that what you really want anyway?

© 2007, Her Mentor Center

Author's Bio: 

Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. & Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. are co-founders of, a website dedicated to the issues of mid-life women and, a Blog for the Sandwich Generation. They are co-authors of a forthcoming book about Baby Boomer women and their family relationships. As psychotherapists, they have over 40 years of collective private practice experience.