Over-Helping: Is There Such a Thing? by: John Basie

Over-Helping: Is There Such a Thing?

As a brief follow-up on one of my recent posts on young adult independence and the ongoing related challenges, I thought it appropriate to reference a little more research. A 2013 article by Reuters cites a study showing that too much help coming from parents can actually contribute to depression in their college-attending kids. Specifically, it “found students with over-controlling parents were more likely to be depressed and less satisfied with their lives while the number of hyper-parents was increasing with economic fears fueling concerns over youngsters’ chances of success.”

We’re seeing more and more coverage on this topic in the media and in published books, to the point that I am increasingly surprised when I talk with parents who just aren’t aware. Not that I’m a perfect parent by any stretch, and I can understand parents worrying over their kids’ job prospects following graduation. But I continue to believe that the college years are a time for parents to realize that their kids are trying to spread their wings and fly. Workplace studies are showing that too many college grads simply don’t have the needed skills to perform at acceptable levels in their first full-time positions. I believe this unfortunate truth is explained in part by the fact that parents are doing far too much for their young adults.

Independence and healthy autonomy are essential for young adults’ career readiness following college. Moreover, having these qualities are part of what it looks like for
young people to grow up and flourish as God’s image-bearers in the way that He intended. If we all agree on that, then let’s not unintentionally clip their wings by over-helping.

Questions to consider:

  • How would you know if you’re over-helping your son or daughter?
  • When are you most likely to “over-help” your young adult?
  • What feedback have you sought from your young adult regarding the kind of help he or she finds to be growth-oriented?

Go Deeper:

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Discover the real reason why you send your student to college!