We're Raising a Generation of Wimpy Kids
...And the kids are paying the price.
Posted August 22, 2017
Whether a teenager is intent on getting into an Ivy League school, or a high school student hopes to earn an athletic scholarship, today's youth face steeper competition than ever before. And many parents have bought into the notion that their child needs their help to stand out from the crowd.
That's why many parents are becoming more like personal assistants to their children. They manage their children's schedules like a dutiful employee. They deliver forgotten lunches and drop off band instruments that were cumbersome to carry. They chauffeur their kids all over the state — and sometimes all over the country — so they can participate in competitive sports.
When their child faces a challenge that is outside of the parent's ability, they outsource the task like a devoted project manager. They hire tutors and coaches who can give their child a competitive edge.
But parents' willingness to become their children's concierge is backfiring. We're raising a generation of emotional wimps who lack the ability to stand on their own two feet.
Helicopter Parents Raise Kids Who Brag About "Adulting"
Whether you double-check your child's homework or nag him until he finally does his chores, propping kids up has some short-term benefits: Your child can score higher, achieve more, and look better when she's got you working alongside her.
But there are some long-term ramifications of this approach to parenting, primary among them being that kids aren't learning how to become mentally strong adults. Instead, they're staying dependent on their parents.
Many people don't seem to be alarmed that adolescence has been extended by an extra decade. We live in a world in which 30-year-olds say they're "adulting" when they do everyday activities like shopping for groceries or searching for apartments. And their parents think that's cute.
Parents Make Too Many Excuses
According to the Pew Research Center, 24 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds live at home. But parents don't put any responsibility on these boomerang kids for returning to the nest. Instead, they blame the economy.
And while it's quite probable many young people are swimming in debt, it's even more likely that many of them lack the mental strength to be on their own. A national survey of 1,502 college students found that 60 percent felt emotionally unprepared for life after high school.
Those who felt the least emotionally prepared were less likely to stay in school, and more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope.
About 59 percent of students who set out to get a degree manage to graduate with a bachelor's degree. However, it takes today's students an average of six years to get their four-year degrees.
Parents Keep "Helping" After College
Rather than breathe a sigh of relief and take a step back when Junior graduates from college, many parents feel compelled to keep intervening. Perhaps they know the only reason their child made it this far was because they were doing the behind-the-scenes enabling that made it happen.
Parents are intervening in their adult children's job search. A survey by Michigan State University found that one-third of employers had received resumes from parents on their children's behalf. Some submitted these resumes without their children's knowledge. A quarter of hiring managers have received phone calls from parents urging them to hire their son or daughter. And 4 percent of hiring managers have had parents attend an interview with their adult child.
Mentally Strong Parents Seek to Work Themselves Out of a Job
The ultimate goal of parenting should be to work yourself out of a job. Letting your child fail, allowing him to face pain, and teaching him to be responsible can be tough — especially today. But mentally strong parents don't shield their kids from pain. Instead, they teach their kids how to turn their struggles into strength.
Teach your child how to build the mental muscle she needs to stand on her own two feet, and she'll be more likely to see herself as a capable person who can tackle the challenges of life.
To learn how to give up the bad parenting habits that rob kids of mental strength, pick up a copy of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do.
Fry, R. (2017, May 05). It's becoming more common for young adults to live at home – and for longer stretches.
Gardner, P. (2007). Parent Involvement in the College Recruiting Process: To What Extent?
The Harris Poll. (2015, October 8). Students Who Feel Emotionally Unprepared for College More Likely to Report Poor Academic Performance and Negative College Experience.