In a Facebook post that was put up this week, Virginia Tech academic advisor Priscilla Beth Baker gives some advice to parents who are seeing their kids off to post-secondary school.
In the popular post, which has been shared over 7 thousand times (and counting), Baker talks about some of the conditions that are leading to kids having a difficult time adjusting to college. She states that she is far too often seeing young people come to her office in tears as they are ill-prepared for the pressures and adjustments of post-secondary life.
She claims that things are a lot more difficult for young adults now, and believes the reason for this may be:
A perfect storm of (1) high schools engaging in massive grade inflation and not fully preparing our kids for what lies ahead; (2) our generation’s over-involved, fix-it style of parenting; and (3) social media/technology and the strange dichotomy of these platforms meant to connect us that often do just the opposite.
Baker goes on to talk about just how lonely this generation of kids are and the effect that this is having on their self-esteem. She cautions parents to try not to suffocate their kids with communication as they ease into school. She advises parents to let their kids “set the tone” when it comes to communication.
In a world full of helicopter parents, steamroller parents, and all other types of over-involved, over-fixing parents, Baker stresses the importance of letting go for the sake of their children’s confidence and ultimate wellness. She states:
Remember when you were away at school and had an issue – what did you do? You talked to roommates and friends. Or yourself. You figured it out. THEN you might have told your parents. Or not. Your children need to learn how to solve problems on their own. You jumping on their school’s website and finding everything for them might be helpful in the short term but I can tell you that it leads to total paralysis day to day and most especially when they go to find an internship or a job and have not developed any of those professional competencies yet. If they ask you for help, your answer should be, “Why don’t you ask your Advisor.” That is why we are here! You would not believe the random questions I get….and they make me laugh and I am happy to get them because it means they aren’t asking you.
In all honesty, she’s not wrong. We all end up so elbows-deep in our children’s lives that it is little wonder they end up anxious and unprepared when they leave the nest. Although this is done with our kids’ happiness and success in mind, it actually isn’t serving them well in the long term.
Furthermore, Baker’s post stresses the importance of talking to kids about time management, encouraging them to get out of their comfort zone, and being transparent with them about failure. Ultimately, these are real-life skills that will be immensely helpful to them, not only in post-secondary life, but also in the real world that lies on the other side of academia.
Baker’s post finishes on a funny note, as she states, “I often joke that I wouldn’t have a job if my generation weren’t such shitty parents. So thanks for the career, my friends! 😅 It truly is a pleasure.😊”
The popularity of this post is a testament to the fact that it is full of useful, practical advice. However, it’s also a wonderful reminder of the importance of letting go a little bit for the sake of the kids.
It can be hard to do so as a parent, but ultimately, helping kids gain independence is the best gift you can give your kids to enable their success.
To check out the full post, see below.