Book by Karla C. Carney-Hall
Review by Holly E. Martin
First Year of Studies
University of Notre Dame

This short, remarkably comprehensive, volume will prove valuable to advisors, administrators, and college leaders alike.  While the increased involvement of parents in their children’s college experience is much discussed by advisors, there has been relatively little concrete information available for advisor use concerning this trend. Managing Parent Partnerships provides useful insights into the causes and implications of increased parent involvement and a wealth of practical suggestions on working with parents to further student developmental and academic welfare.

Managing Parent Partnerships emphasizes harnessing parental involvement for the good of the student. The subtitle summarizes the hoped-for outcomes: “Maximizing Influence, Minimizing Interference, and Focusing on Student Success.”  After years of being cajoled into involvement in their son’s and daughter’s early education, and with the revolution in electronic communication between parents and children, to say nothing of the astonishing cost of college, and the millennial’s trademark emotional closeness to their parents, many parents are understandably unclear as to how their role in their children’s college experience should develop. This situation presents advisors with an opportunity to make use of parental involvement to maximize the students’ academic and personal development.  

Managing Parent Partnerships begins with an excellent essay on current trends in family involvement and the implications of that involvement for students, parents, and institutions of higher education. Careny-Hall’s explanation concerning why parents are now more involved is most helpful, and she includes concrete recommendations for working positively with parents as well as an unusually full list of additional resources for further study. Taub’s essay, which follows, addresses the impact of parental involvement on student development. She notes that the “term ‘helicopter parents’ focuses attention solely on the parents, distracting the speaker and the listener from the fact that today’s students are equal partners in the phenomenon, frequently initiating contact and calling upon parents for assistance” (16). Taub’s essay frankly points out how little is known about the impact of increased parental involvement on student development and the need for considerable research in this area. In another exceptionally helpful essay, Price discusses in detail the information parents need in order to support their daughters and sons in college. He urges institutions to proactively provide parents with information about the college environment, campus resources, the types of challenges their students may encounter, and how institutions and parents can work together to overcome these challenges (29). Ward-Roof, Heaton, and Coburn’s essay on programming for parents makes concrete suggestions for capitalizing on parent involvement through orientations, surveys, parent associations, family weekend events, and the like.  Savage’s fine essay on developing and assessing parent programs continues the volume’s emphasis on practical detail and is especially useful if read in consort with her wonderful book for parents of first year students, You’re On Your Own (But I’m Here If You Need Me).  The necessary work of preparing for crises and negotiating FREPA are not neglected.  Merriman’s essay on “Managing Parent Involvement During a Crisis” should be required reading for administrators and is an excellent resource for proactive management of crises large and small. Baker’s essay, “Navigating State and Federal Student Privacy Laws,” is absolutely outstanding.  He renders a subject that is generally incomprehensible and dull, lucid and almost painless.

One hardly dared hope all of the essays in Managing Parent Partnerships would be both well written and valuable, but they are. The essays are brief, clear, well-researched, and immediately useful.  Readers cannot ask for more than that.

Managing parent partnerships: Maximizing influence, minimizing interference, and focusing on student success. (2008) Book by Karla C. Carney-Hall (Ed). Review by Holly E. Martin. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 88 pp., $28, ISBN 9780470373804
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