How Far Will You Go For Your Child? (How Far *Should* You Go?)


college admissions scandal helicopter parents

Earlier in the year, I was talking to my eldest daughter’s teacher about her homework. I was questioning why it wasn’t carefully graded and given back in a timely matter. Although the teacher admitted she would like her turn-around time to be a bit better, she explained that it wasn’t fair to “grade” the homework because she wasn’t always sure if it was done by the child or by the parent. I was confused. My daughter is in 3rd grade and isn’t the purpose of her homework to let her make mistakes and learn from them? The teacher said I would be surprised how much of the homework seems to be too perfect and likely either done or corrected by the parents.

In recent news, we learned about the largest college admissions scandal in history. Wealthy parents are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to cheat their children into getting into popular colleges. They are going to extremes including photoshopping pictures of their children excelling at sports that they did not even play! Not only are these parents actually committing crimes, but think about the messages they are sending to their children.

And are they that far off from the messages we are sending our own children by doing their schoolwork and projects for them? Do we have such little belief in our children and what they are capable of becoming in life if we don’t take control and do everything for them? Do we think they are not good enough to do it on their own? Or if they choose a college that isn’t as popular, will it be an embarrassment to us? It seems that there is such pressure for children of the wealthy to succeed that we as parents are failures if our children are not also financially successful.

I recently read the book How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims which talks about over-parenting our children and being  “helicopter parents.” This college scandal is the perfect example of taking over-parenting to an extreme. I think the question should be not what will become of our children if we don’t get them the best education in the best universities, but what will become of our children if we do all the hard work for them?  Aren’t failure and rejection a part of life? We are preventing our children from essential personal growth that is required to become both happy and successful adults.

I often listen to podcasts and Tedtalks from some of the world’s most successful people and the consistent message is that success is the result of hard work, learning from failure, pursuing your passion and having the courage to keep on trying. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Helen Keller.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

If we do our children’s homework, then their school projects, and eventually do the work by means of lying or cheating to get them into college, how are we possibly setting them up for success?  It’s hard to see our children experience failure or rejection. We want them to be happy, and we want them to succeed but we have to take a step back.

Our job as parents is NOT to do it for them but rather provide them with the tools to do it on their own—to support them when they experience failure or rejection and to provide them with love and support if they choose a different path than what we thought they should take. We need to empower our children to make decisions for themselves. If they make poor choices, we will guide them to learn how to cope with the consequences and work through the decisions they made.

Parenting is a balance. It’s not doing the work for them, and it’s not holding them prisoner to our expectations of success. Neither is it sitting back and letting them run the show. Our children need security, they need perseverance, and they need guidance.  


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Wendi is originally from New Jersey but has lived in the Bay Area for over 20 years! Her career as a nurse allowed her to work in many areas such as the neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric emergency room, and management of a pediatric critical care transport team. She then ventured on to become a mompreneur and founded a company called NewboRN Solutions which offered in-home education and services to new and expecting parents. Following the birth to surprise baby girl #3, Wendi and her husband moved from San Francisco to Menlo Park in August of 2017. After having two babies 14 months apart, Wendi chose to improve her work/life balance and currently works one day a week at a healthcare consulting company in San Francisco. In her free time, she enjoys getting back into an exercise routine, adjusting to life as a mom of three, drinking wine with friends and reading cook books/magazines in hoping to find more time to cook healthy and yummy meals that at least one of her children will eat.



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