Students Advocating for Themselves

There’s an interesting article on entitled Kids of Helicopter Parents are Sputtering Out excerpted from a new book by Julie Lythcott-Haims:

The article makes the point that over-involved parents may actually unknowingly be hurting their kids while they believe they are guiding them toward a great life. It brings to mind the story a friend, who is a career educator at a local university, told me. My friend said that she is working with a student who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree, but who has no idea what to do with her degree and career future. It seems that the student did everything her parents wanted her to including choice of university and major and the parents have now set her loose as an adult to figure it out. This turns out to be a daunting task for someone who has not made her own decisions before.

This fits into school counseling as counselors work with students to begin to take over their own decisions and dilemmas. I have observed that high school students who handle their own business…classes, assignments, grades, college and career applications and plans…directly build their skills and do so in an environment that is less difficult and crucial than college and the workplace. It is clear to me that they surge ahead of their peers who are not fighting their own battles.

It’s good for parents to keep in mind that kids can always consult with parents for wisdom and as a sounding board and it is always appropriate for them to approach their school counselor. Problem solving is a life skill as great or greater than math, science, and English.  Remember that it is best not to get ahead of your kids’ desires and interest because the effort will often fall apart. Mom and Dad should not be leading the charge.

I think we instinctively know that everyone must take ownership of their lives at some point and logic would tell us that it is better to gradually take on more and more of your own concerns, not everything at once as an adult or worse never take it on. This means that parents have to override their own desire to get in and get it done. Not an easy task when as a parent you feel you could get it done better and faster.

Even harder is to watch your kid do nothing and know that sometimes that is just what is needed. We all have to live with and learn from our choices. Our kids aren’t any different.


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