There are plenty of terms these days to describe parents who shield their children from any and all unpleasant things the world has to offer. They make sure the kids take their vitamin supplements, that all their homework receives 100 percent or more, that their speeches for club officer rivals that of someone running for political office and that tutors prepare them to have test scores that are very near perfect.
Instead of the apron strings beginning to loosen a bit after the child moves through high school, in too many cases the involvement in directing the decisions of the student intensifies. Instead of the student building a college list, exploring majors and researching careers; a list is handed to them along with what they need to choose as a major so that they have access to the career that has been chosen for them. As long as the child dutifully follows along with the plan, life is a bed of roses. Unfortunately for the child, the only decisions they have made about what they want has been for Christmas and birthday presents. They don’t contradict the plans of their parents because they have zero experience doing so.
Too often, the child will do as told – believing that what they want is what their parents want. If that was actually true, why does the average college student change majors 3.2 times while in college? Most high school students don’t begin to think about what they want after high school because it never occurs to them as a consideration. They are on parent autopilot. When they are dropped off at their dorm and the autopilot is disengaged, a few will recover after navigating the initial turbulence that comes with thinking for themselves, many will crash and survive but some will crash and burn.
Parents can remove this particular stumbling block from their child’s path by treating them more like an adult before they leave home. I understand the difficulty of watching someone you love struggle or bear the consequences of a bad decision when you have the ability to make it go away, but that is precisely how to prepare your child to survive college and face the world. Do them a favor and sprinkle in a few, “I told you so’s” instead of rushing to fix everything. You will thank yourself when you see how independent they will become after leaving home.