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As a parent, do you feel your DC's Uni "should" communicate with you?

(395 Posts)
UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 26-Jun-13 19:20:45

A general question really, I work for a uni and we regularly get complaints from parents that we should have told them stuff.

But, the student is an adult and the contract is between the student and the university, even if parents are paying the fees/living allowance.

In some cases we would be breaking confidentiality by informing parents (e.g. Health issues), in others, I just think it's odd that parents get involved (e.g. student not picked for sports team).

Would appreciate some views/experiences smile

NotFluffy Wed 26-Jun-13 19:25:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

partyondude Wed 26-Jun-13 19:25:32

I would have been appalled if my uni had gone behind my back and communicated with my parents.
I went to uni in Scotland and a reasonable number of my friends were 17 (left after highest, didn't do sys) and I'm not aware that the uni communicated with their parents either.

VinegarDrinker Wed 26-Jun-13 19:25:51

God, no.

Ginderella Wed 26-Jun-13 19:27:11

As a parent, I wouldn't expect DS's uni to contact me. DS is over 18, and an adult.

Perhaps the parents that complain are a wee bit controlling and are finding it hard to let their children go?

I would rather not know what DS is up to! smile

redrubyshoes Wed 26-Jun-13 19:29:31

My friend is a Uni lecturer and is shocked that in the last ten years he has seen a massive increase in parents phoning to check up/interfere/battle on behalf of their DCs.

Their DC's are ADULTS and make their own choices. That might be getting pissed and not doing any work - the DC's are adults and if they choose to piss away their parents money that is between them and NOT the Uni/College.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 26-Jun-13 19:33:59

Ah, unanimous so far, phew!

I know the logic and the rules but a couple of things have come up recently that made me wobble a bit.

We get caught in the middle of the student and the parent sometimes, e.g. student is failing but tells parent they're doing fine, first parent hears of it is when the invite to graduation doesn't turn up...

PositiveAttitude Wed 26-Jun-13 19:35:37

I think that in certain circumstances there should be communication from the uni. I am not saying about the sports team or any daft helicopter parent issues, but if there is a concern about a students health, including mental health, then I think that the parent would want to know so that they can support in any way they can.

I have one DD at uni at the moment and I have contacted them after a serious sexual assault and I wanted to know how they were supporting her through this time (especially as we were on the other side of the world living at the time, so could not be there for her physically) They were really unhelpful and I was made to feel as if I was interfering.

Another DD is considering uni for September. Our concern is that she has a history of MH problems and we know that this might not be the best environment for her to be in. I would want to know if she was struggling and slipping into a depression, but have no confidence that I would be told. My fear is then that I would get a phone call when things were too late for her.

I totally understand that they are adults and need their own independence and to be treated with confidentiality, but I am still their mum!!

GrimmaTheNome Wed 26-Jun-13 19:40:10

What 'stuff' do these parents think you should have told them? confused

Other than in some cases of MH issues, its up to young adults to decide what they communicate to their parents.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 26-Jun-13 19:54:12

PositiveAttitude I'm so sorry about your DD.

Re MH, I don't know the ins and outs but I imagine that the student has a right to confidentiality on all health issues. If they miss a load of lectures the lecturer won't necessarily know whether it's depression or too much partying.

If it is depression, do they have the authority to tell the parents? What if it does more harm than good?

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 26-Jun-13 19:55:53

Grimma I don't want to give specifics as it is my current job, but they are similar to the types of questions parents would ask a teacher at secondary school.

redrubyshoes Wed 26-Jun-13 20:13:53

Ok Op I don't want to be the bearer of bad news here but................your child is now an adult and in charge of their own destiny. If MH issues are a problem then you need to set up a game plan to deal with them. Outside of Uni/College as well as in.

I deal with 600 students and about 5% of them take up 60% of my time. I will ALWAYS listen and get help for them.

Self harming/anorexia/bulimia/drug abuse/depression you name it. Yep it is sad and awful and every other name you can choose................but I have 595 other students who deal with parental loss/accidents/disabilities etc as an adult and seek appropriate treatment as they would outside an educational establishment.

PositiveAttitude Wed 26-Jun-13 20:17:35

Yes, I see the issue and I can see that it is not up to the lecturer to know if it is depression or too much partying. I can see everyone's point of view here and I do agree with you.
My point of view is purely from a MH issue. The natural of the illness is that if DD is slipping she will not communicate her thoughts to me and so my fear is that she would be suicidal before I knew anything was going on. I do still think that someone should look out for her enough to be able to help her before she got to that point.

Regarding our other DD - I only contacted because I was 7500 miles away from her and she needed some victim support. I only contacted once - never again!

On the other hand when I was at uni I would have gone mad if my parents had been told anything about my life! I wanted to make my decisions and bad choices by myself and knew that I also had to live with the consequences.

I certainly do not agree with the parents contacting unis for all sorts of minor things that the students should get on and live with themselves. They are out in the big wide world and need to know that bad things happen and life is just not fair all the time.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 26-Jun-13 20:21:30

Definitely not, and surely its a breach of confidentiality.
When teaching post 16 we had to have a signed contract to allow us to inform parents of anything.
Also my ds1 and 2 would have been mortified if I had known the ins and outs of what they got up to at College and Uni.
They are adults.
Sorry OP but these parents are off their heads. grin

pointydog Wed 26-Jun-13 20:27:22

No, obv

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 26-Jun-13 20:27:24

RedRubyShoes - I'm not the parent of a student, I'm on the receiving end of the parents' complaints.

MH is really a tough issue, and it's so common amongst young people.

Not at my uni, but I heard one parent complain that his son missed out on a field trip - yes, because he was too pissed to be allowed on the plane - and wanted a partial refund of fees.

Delayingtactic Wed 26-Jun-13 20:28:31

Nope they're adults and it is not up to the uni to be informing the parents of anything! I can appreciate the worry with mental health concerns but it is identical to any other health concern and as such the uni should not breach confidentiality.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 26-Jun-13 20:28:43

Sorry, I meant to add, unless things have changed a lot in the past couple of years the procedure we had to follow was something like this.

Student appearing unwell or missing lectures concerns from friends etc, a red warning given to form tutor/ Head of year. They arrange a meeting with student. Then if need be student offered counselling or other relevant support. If it is felt that parents should be contacted, this is explained to student who then either agrees or disagrees with parental involvement. First signing a declaration giving the college/uni permission to contact.

redrubyshoes Wed 26-Jun-13 20:29:39


Sorry. Yep I am your side of the complaints. Just jumped in like a helicopter parent. blush

SingingSands Wed 26-Jun-13 20:30:11

I agree that the students are adults and it is their contract with the University, not the parents. I also think this message needs to be reiterated to some students, particularly those of whom are happy to bleat to mummy and daddy when they don't get their way.

But when it comes to safeguarding issues, the lines are not so clear. I don't think parents should be made to feel as though they are "interfering" when trying to work with Uni's - interfering is actually part of the parenting job description - but I think, overall, parents would appreciate more clarity between students/Unis and themselves. Perhaps the name and contact details of a pastoral care team who would liaise with parents on such issues? I appreciate that this might already exist, I'm some years off my own DC heading to Uni.

lljkk Wed 26-Jun-13 20:31:47

When my parents were paying, I would have thought that reasonable. Not after I started paying for fees myself.

Numberlock Wed 26-Jun-13 20:32:30

we regularly get complaints from parents that we should have told them stuff

Jesus Christ, at what point these days do adult children ever have to grow up? What between this thread and the one about the girl not liking having a summer job in the US... When do some parents let them stand on their own two feet?

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Wed 26-Jun-13 20:33:55

Hell no. DD is an adult, unless there was a concern about her mental health I would not expect her uni to enter into any conversations with me.

allnewtaketwo Wed 26-Jun-13 20:34:02

Not at all in my opinion.

But I still can't get quite to grips with how my DSSs mother will let him go to university out of her control sight. She will be one of the parents you speak of, without a doubt

Tincletoes Wed 26-Jun-13 20:39:47

Hmmm. I was all ready to jump in and say absolutely not. However, if in 10 years I am paying £9,000 a year to a university who then don't tell me my DS isn't turning up to any lectures or tutorials, I will be a bit pissed off. Missing some to the extent it doesn't matter - I wouldn't care. Missing everything and certain to fail - I would!

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