The university cheating scandal last week, in which 50 people including Hollywood celebrity parents Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman scammed the system to get kids into elite colleges, is a clarifying moment. It reveals that too many American parents have completely lost their minds.
Indeed, mothers and fathers today are taking helicopter parenting to new and monstrous levels.
Parents regularly share videos on social media of brawls at children’s sporting events. In October, a fight broke out among adults during the postgame handshake following a pee-wee football match in Virginia. In June, it was a punch-up at a 12-and-under girls softball game. And just a few weeks ago parents in Kimberly, Wisconsin, decided it wasn’t enough to watch their kids roll around at a youth-wrestling tournament and took to the mat themselves.
What parents can’t fix with violence they take to court. In September, a mom in St. Louis sued because her son didn’t make the varsity soccer team. West Virginia parents sued for “punitive damages and damages for emotional stress, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of scholarship potential” after their child got an F on a biology project turned in late. And Los Angeles parents have sued over their child being passed over for valedictorian, for someone with a better GPA, saying their kid was “robbed of the title.”
This is not normal.
People have forgotten the entire point of raising kids: imparting good, solid values and bringing up well-rounded members of society. Instead, parents have become morally bankrupt, raising kids as an extension of themselves and — with that — an extension of their competition with other parents.
So many parents are forcing their kids to lead Instagram-perfect lives full of brag-worthy accomplishments right now. They all want to be Kris Jenner, coaching their kids into billion-dollar businesses.
Loughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade wasn’t that interested in attending the University of Southern California, but once she was there she became an “influencer” earning $ 30,000 to $ 50,000 per post.
School psychologist Anthony Servis tells me that parents and their kids are experiencing more stress than ever over past two decades and that it’s “directly connected to social media and the need for ‘likes’ and ‘retweets.’ ”
“At least some of this is because people are used to instant gratification,” Servis said. “Whether it’s Googling something from a smartphone, the on-demand and instant nature of the media we consume or the immediate feedback from social media, it’s all about the results. Parents do not seem to have the patience or the fortitude to make their kids work for what they want.”
And the results don’t always benefit the kids.
‘Now, just as always, the kids will suffer the self-centered folly of the parents.’
A 2014 Gallup-Purdue study found that where students graduate from college matters far less to their personal happiness than what happened to them there. In other words, a motivating professor or an inspiring internship is much more important to a kid’s well-being than the name of the school.
The point is that kids getting into elite colleges makes parents feel good.
Parents think, “I can’t accept my average kid when my peers’ kids are getting into good schools,” New York-based psychotherapist Karin Socci tells me. “And now, just as always, the kids will suffer the self-centered folly of the parents.”
Let’s be clear: The moms and dads bashing each other’s heads in at sporting events or cheating to get their children into college are not better parents.
In fact, they are far worse than the rest of us who sometimes feel like we aren’t doing enough. If you love your kid unconditionally, if you teach them values and make sure they grow up to be good people, you are doing plenty.
Parents on the brink need to pause and work on themselves. For once, do it for the children.