I got a few emails from parents in response to my post where I advised that they not get involved helping their kids with college essays. Most completely agreed with me, but there were a few who swore that they helped their kids successfully (and that the acceptance letters from Princeton and Yale were proof that it worked).
I wasn't suggesting that no parent has the knowledge or ability to help your own kid with college essays. I was saying that it's impossible for a parent to be a completely objective reader when the subject matter is your own son or daughter. I was saying kids are inclined to resent their parents' involvement much like they resent you telling them what not to wear or whom to date. I was saying that it's too much pressure, for you and for your student.
The American Medical Association's Code of Medical ethics advises against doctors treating their own children for similar reasons.
"Professional objectivity may be compromised when an immediate family member or the physician is the patient; the physician’s personal feelings may unduly influence his or her professional medical judgment, thereby interfering with the care being delivered…If tensions develop in a physician’s professional relationship with a family member, perhaps as a result of a negative medical outcome, such difficulties may be carried over into the family member’s personal relationship with the physician."
I think kids should get help with their college essays. All good writers get feedback, and re-writing is part of good writing. Kids can ask their English teacher, counselor, or even a good friend who knows them well and will call them out for saying things like, "My trip to Europe afforded me a plethora of opportunities to broaden my cultural horizons."
But it when it comes to parents helping, it really will take pressure off if you follow my (and the AMA's) lead here.