While we’re clucking over the college admissions bribery scandal, those of us with children too young to worry about higher education gaze up from our smartphones and remind our tweens and teens that schoolwork’s due Friday and to pack their uniform for practice.
What’s wrong with that?
Only that most of us still will be doing it when our children are in college.
Bribing SAT proctors, paying off college officials and lying about kids’ athletic credentials is illegal, but it’s also part of a pattern of today’s parents taking control so their children succeed and avoid disappointment and failure.
A new poll conducted by The New York Times and Morning Consult showed that parents don’t stop handling things for their children when they become adults.
We don’t stop removing obstacles to child frustration or defeat, thus earning ourselves the moniker of snowplow or lawnmower parents.
Meet the ‘lawnmower parent,’ the new helicopter parents
What type of parent are you? Lawnmower? Helicopter? Attachment? Tiger? Free-range?
The poll looked at a nationally representative group of parents of young people ages 18 to 28.
Parents contacting their adult child’s boss
By the time kids are old enough for college and way beyond the point they should have graduated, parents — whether wealthy or not — are still doing things children can do for themselves. Such as:
- 76 percent reminded their adult children of deadlines they need to meet, including for schoolwork
- 74 percent made appointments for them, including doctor’s appointments
- 15 percent of parents with children in college had texted or called them to wake them up so they didn’t sleep through a class or test.
One of the most egregious findings of the poll is that 11 percent of parents with adult children will call their child’s employer if he or she had an issue at work.
I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising in that 8 percent of parents said they had contacted a college professor or administrator about their child’s grades or a problem they were having.
The poll also found among parents of adult children that:
- 22 percent helped them study for a college test
- 16 percent helped write all or part of a job or internship application
- 14 percent told them which career to pursue
- 14 percent helped them get jobs or internships through professional network
- 12 percent gave more than $500 per month for rent or daily expenses
- 11 percent helped write an essay or school assignment
- 4 percent wrote all or part of an essay or other school assignment
Growing up means making mistakes
The problem with this, according to Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success,” is that parents never let their children grow up. Growing up means making your own decisions, and sometimes, mistakes, she told The Times.
“The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid,” Lythcott-Haims said.
Lythcott-Haims said it’s difficult for snowplow parents to break the habit of being a child’s fixer, always plowing away all the difficulties.
“If you’re doing it in high school, you can’t stop at college,” she said. “If you’re doing it in college, you can’t stop when it comes to the workplace. You have manufactured a role for yourself of always being there to handle things for your child, so it gets worse because your young adult is ill-equipped to manage the basic tasks of life.”
Lythcott-Haims said parents eventually have to take a back seat and let their kids drive their own lives. “You can’t just arrive them at the future you want for them. They have to do the work to build the skills,” she said.
The poll looked at 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of people that age. The survey was conducted between Jan. 29 to Feb. 3.
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