As a parent, there is almost nothing that you wouldn’t do to help your child become a successful adult. But should you go to such lengths? And where is the line?
The recent college admissions scandal shows some specific lines that parents were willing to cross in order to help their teens be admitted to highly competitive colleges and universities. They paid bribes, they cheated and told lies to their own children to make sure that they got into their top choice. In one notable case, the teen openly admitted that she didn’t care about the education her parents arranged for her to get, she was more excited about the parties and the football games.
As we often say at PEP, “what message does this send to our children?” In the case of the teens whose parents were willing to break the law for them, it sends the clear message that the parents didn’t have confidence in their abilities to be successful no matter where they went to college, and could not be left to stand on their own feet in negotiating adulthood. This is a debilitating message. To be told in the most basic way that “my parent doesn’t trust me, doesn’t believe in my abilities — my parent thinks that the only way I can succeed is with their direct help.” These are teens who are not only attached by apron or purse strings, they are gagged and bound by them.
And the teens whose parents lied to them about their testing and test results — why should those teens ever trust their parents ever again? (Although if someone told my daughter that she need to go to a special testing center, she would have had a lot of questions and would have insisted on knowing why!)
It is obvious that the parents involved just wanted the best for their children — but for me, the best result is knowing that no matter what the name is on my child’s diploma, they have the values, resilience and personal agency to work towards whatever life they want for themselves. The choices that they make, in high school, in college, and later on have both positive and negative consequences, that they can be proud of or learn from. And that is the way to help my child become a successful adult.
Don’t miss former Stanford Dean and author of How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims next Thursday, March 21 at 8 pm ET. Julie will be joining us online as part of our Noted Parenting Author Series. Register here!