The backlash against over-parenting

Time Magazine recently ran a cover story about the dangers of over-parenting.  The author presents an argument that hovering less and allowing kids to find their own way actually produces happier kids…and happier parents.  And there is some pretty compelling evidence supporting the method of "letting them grow by letting go."

We've watched over 2500 families go through our Collegewise program, and I can tell you that the ones who enjoyed the process the most, and whose kids seemed to have the most success, allowed their kids to take the lead in the process.  Here's how that can look in the college admissions process:


Letting go

Signing your kid up for volunteer hours at the hospital

Driving him to the karate class he asked to take

Emailing a teacher to demand a grade be changed

Encouraging your son to visit the teacher to ask for advice about how to improve his own work

“A little more tutoring and we may be able to get your SAT score up another 50 points”

“Two times is enough for the SAT and for tutoring.  Do your best—then we’ll kiss the SAT goodbye.”

“Let’s go visit Harvard this spring”

“Let’s look through this college guidebook and find some colleges you might like.”

Appealing a rejection from Stanford

Encouraging her to fall in love with a school that accepted her

“We might have connections that could help her get into Yale.”

“She’ll find the place that suits her best”

“We wish she’d gotten into an Ivy League school”

“We wish we could go back to college with her!”

Re-writing your student’s essays

Encouraging her to write what she wants to write

Filling out her applications for her

Offering to help organize the process together

“I wish she were as high achieving as our friends’ kids”

“Test scores don't measure her worth or our worth as parents"

Calling the dean and demanding an explanation for the rejection

Planning a visit to a school that said, “Yes.”

Hiring tutors for all her weakest subjects

Encouraging her to explore her favorite subjects

Asking colleges which activities are best

Asking your kids which activities they love the most

Focusing on brand-name schools

Understanding that going to college is important, but going to a famous college is not

“We’re proud of your GPA and test scores”

“We’re proud that you treat your sisters so well”

“Your SAT scores are still a little low”

“We love watching you play in the jazz band”

“My kid has over 100 hours of community service”

“My kid is a good kid”

Believing that name-brand colleges are the key to success and upward mobility

Understanding that what your child does in college matters far more than the name of the college

Envisioning a Princeton decal on the back of your car window

Proudly wearing the “(College) Dad” sweatshirt, whatever the school may be