Graphic by Danielle Cuestas
The American attitude toward parental involvement is changing rapidly. When students used to get bad grades in school, parents would tell them to shape up, but in modern times, parents take it upon themselves to ensure their students’ success. I have a very involved parent, and while this is supposed to give me a sense of having a safety net, in reality, it only makes myself and other kids like me more anxious.
Knowing my parent is always around the corner is a strange feeling. High school is supposed to be the time we discover ourselves, make mistakes, and inevitably learn from them. High school today is increasingly competitive, and elite college spots are so coveted that our families are too afraid to let us make the kinds of mistakes we can grow from. As a result, our parents are just as stressed about high school as we are.
I am not ashamed to say that I have a helicopter parent. While these types of parents would never intentionally do their children any harm, they inadvertently are. Helicopter parenting in moderation is a good thing: if I truly found an obstacle I could not overcome it would be nice to know that there was someone on my team. But with such extreme parental involvement, it’s not even my team anymore; I am a benchwarmer. Feeling out of control of my own academic life is an awful feeling; it can even disincentivize me. It causes anxiety for me too because there is a feeling that nothing is under my control. The cons of over-involved parents far outweigh the pros because while having a high class rank is great, mental stability is better.
Having a parent solve all of my issues for me also will not help in the real world, this does not teach independence. It teaches dependence on authority figures because we start to internalize the mentality that we can not make a change, only our superiors can. It is important for students to fight their own battles because the long term implications of not doing so are so extremely detrimental. We cannot be a generation stifled by the idea that we have to rely on other people. We are smart enough to rely on ourselves and high school is the perfect time to learn that.
None of this is to say that we should not be grateful that our parents have an interest in our academics, but they certainly shouldn’t be more focused on our grades than we are. Striking a healthy balance between the two extremes is something that needs to be be looked toward if we want to see ourselves succeed.