The college admissions scandal involving Full House star Lori Loughlin has shed light on the extremes parents will go to in order to help their children get ahead in life.
Paying $500,000 to a fake charity who, in turn, bribes college coaches at elite schools to accept their child (who doesn’t have the grades or athletic abilities to get accepted into that school in the first place) may be an extreme example how parents enable their children.
But I have seen smaller doses of extreme helicopter parenting for years – all around me.
It Starts In Preschool
When my son was in preschool, the teachers asked all of the students to make their own Valentine’s Day box out of a shoebox. My son found a shoebox, wrapped it in white printer paper, and drew a soccer field on the top with stick-figure soccer players.
He was super proud of his masterpiece.
Until we arrived at school the next day.
Almost every mother had built an over-the-top shoeboxes for their child. One had a waterfall with chocolate flowing from it. Another was a Nemo-themed shoebox with a live fish swimming around it.
The teachers were shaking their heads. They were not happy.
My son burst into tears. “Mine is so ugly!”
I pulled him aside and said, “Bodie, YOU made your box all by yourself. Do you think Billy made that chocolate waterfall? Of course not. His mom did. You should be so proud of your box because that is YOUR creation.”
His smile slowly returned.
My daughter started playing competitive tennis and began participating in junior tennis tournaments. The majority of them were out of town and required missing school on Fridays at least once per month.
I sat down with her teachers at the beginning of every school year. I said, “I want to be very transparent about why Conley is absent on some Fridays. She is competing against the top players in the South and the tournament is 4 hours away. I want her to be proud of what she is doing and never have to lie about where she is. I apologize for the inconvenience, but please let me know how I can get any of her missed work quickly turned in.”
As a result, her teachers were so incredibly supportive of her tennis journey.
So what did all of the other tennis parents in our school district say about why their child was out of Fridays. “Oh, we always tell the school she is sick. Because if she is sick it’s an excused absence.”
The parents lie. They tell their children to lie – and essentially both are ashamed about what they are doing.
When I tell these parents that I am completely forthcoming that we are playing tennis, they look at me like a deer in headlights. Being honest never was a thought for them.
And The Laundry List of Others….
And here are a few more examples of parents going to outrageous extremes to help their kid get ahead…
- One tennis parent talked us into withdrawing from a tennis tournament and playing practice matches with his daughter instead. We agreed. Well, guess who registered for the tournament one minute before the deadline? Yep.
- Parents who fill out college applications for their child
- The parent who signs the nightly reading log when they know their child didn’t read
- The mother who volunteered to be our local team tennis coordinator solely to have the power to tell the parents of her daughter’s competitors that the program “was full”. And then she had the audacity to brag about her abuse of power.
- Two boys at our local high school were tied for Valedictorian. They allegedly agreed to take the same amount of AP courses so one wouldn’t out-do the other. At the 11th hour, one of them broke their promise (directed by his parents) and signed up for one extra AP course giving him the edge. Sadly, the other boy had to seek help the remainder of the school year for suicidal thoughts.
- Parents who complete their children’s homework for them
- The mother who constantly parks in the handicapped parking spot at the school when picking up her kids – who clearly does not have a disability – so they don’t have to walk as far to the carpool line where everyone else is waiting.
- Parents who buy essays and reports online their child is supposed to write
- The mother who lied and told the school her daughter was sick when she actually left school early to get a spray tan for a dance competition.
Although most of the examples above will not land a parent in jail, there is clearly an epidemic of unethical parents who will go to any extreme to help their child achieve.
What these parents don’t understand is that they are only hurting their children.
Kids must learn to fail.
They must learn to stand up for themselves. They must learn to tell the truth. All the time.
If they are old enough to own a phone, they are old enough to make their own phone calls, complete a college application, do their own homework and handle a competitor on a tennis court.
I can bet my right arm that Lori Loughlin was that mom who made the over-the-top Valentine’s Day box for her daughter because she just “had” to have the prettiest box to feel loved and accepted that day.
It starts in preschool, y’all.
What extreme measures, lies or unethical behavior have you seen parents go to in order for their child to succeed? Share below!
(Photo by Page Six)