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Hard Lesson Learned from a Broken Hearted Helicopter Parent

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Replies to: Hard Lesson Learned from a Broken Hearted Helicopter Parent

  • RiversiderRiversider Registered User Posts: 277 Junior Member
    edited December 2018
    OP,

    Don’t beat yourself. You sound like a caring parent and even though you went overboard but you tried in ways you felt were helpful. You weren’t an expert in raising children nor had a crystal ball. All isn’t lost, he isn’t even 21 yet, he can mature and find his balance. It may not be what you’ve imagined or at a pace you may prefer but he’ll be alright.

    Thank you for sharing it with other parents. Even if one parent or a child benefits, you’ve done good. All those efforts, that were wasted on him, focus those on your own life. You only got one life to live. Love him too but accept him as an independent adult and let him live on his own terms.

    It’s important to respect personal boundaries, our kids aren’t our extensions. They are individuals. Hey, at least he isn’t “exploring life” on your dime. Let him struggle a bit, don’t start supporting his free spirit, let him learn how to handle responsibility.
  • RiversiderRiversider Registered User Posts: 277 Junior Member
    Just read your follow up. Good for him and for you. I love happy endings.
  • 2023collbound2023collbound Registered User Posts: 81 Junior Member
    Thank you for sharing your story and for your advice - I am you- just a couple years behind and your words will hopefully guide me to let go a little and let my kid spread his wings and take ownership. He sleeps soundly while I obsess over internet research and these forums on schools- which one is the right one for him? Do we need to visit more? Is the perfect school out there but we just haven’t found it yet? Will he get in? What if he gets deferred? Have I checked all the portals today to see if there are any updates...and the list goes on.
  • profdad2021profdad2021 Registered User Posts: 492 Member
    I agree with many of the other posters. For example, your son is a high school graduate, living on his own, supporting himself, and he is still quite young. This is not the ideal path towards a stable economic future but it is a solid start. Time will pass, he will mature, and he very likely will return to college. If not, being independent at such a young age really is an accomplishment and it shows promise in itself. While it is tempting to feel like you could have changed this situation by different parenting, you really don't know that. There are LOTS of young adults who did not graduate from high school, who may never live completely independently, who "did it on their own."

    To add to the discussion: My suggestion is to avoid the assumption about "cause and effect." Yeah, I get it, you feel you over-helped in high school and so your son did not learn the skills necessary for college success. The thing is, lots of kids struggle to adjust to college life, LOTS of kids, regardless of how much their parents helped them in high school. Sometimes there is enormous variation in short term college outcomes even within families.

    At the end of the day, it not always about us. Sometimes, it is about the kid. And his story is not yet written.
  • LengjunyiLengjunyi Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    I get that is indeed a necessary part in life... I am in high school and since my parents stopped supervising me I started to suck... But now it's better
  • TheAnswerGalTheAnswerGal Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    You are too tough on yourself! But thank you for the post because as a fellow (though you will rarely hear me admit it) helicopter parent I can see exactly what you are saying.

    I raised my niece who, unlike my son, was one of those students you never had to remind to do anything and had a 4.5gpa in highschool. She did the same thing your son did, right down to the "working at the supermarket." It really has more to do with thier maturity level, than your influence as a parent. We stopped all financial support for her - no emergency $100, nothing. It killed me to do it - I was convinced she would be homeless or worse. She did couch surf for a while. She hated us and stopped speaking to us for a while too. About a year later she saw how hard life is on minimum-ish wage and how your college treat you different when you aren't in college. She got herself back in college and ended up graduating with a Doctorate of Psychology. (P.S. - she never really forgave us but I know we did the right thing.)

    My son is Senior - got great scholarships to Gonzaga and TCU, still deciding. I have resorted to everything short of abuse to get him to turn in work, study and be a responsible student his whole highschool career (ie...helicopter parent). He is the polar opposite of my niece for highschool. I appreciate your heads up - we are definitely worried about him for college but he is a different kid than my niece. He has had an online business since he was 12, he has paid for his clothes, haircuts, spending money since he was 13. He is going to college on the understanding that he will take out his own loans and figure out his own financing. When he finishes, we will help him pay it off.

    I am betting that a year or so out of college, living the tough life will change your son's perspective.

    Also - you did a great job as a parent to give your child direction and support for the best future possible. Applying for college and even qualifying to get there is much harder than the 80's - are you kidding! I just filled out a one page piece of paper and got a check for $125 from my dad back in the 80's. Sure there was a little essay and maybe they met with me quickly for an "interview" but it was NOTHING like it is today! Schools cost $60,000 a year right now-very few parents can just "send" their kids to college like they did in the 80's. Kids need to get scholarships and compete for merit aid. It's a battle ground to even get to the point where they can do an application. You did exactly what you should do for your son based on what kids need today. Everyone has to make mistakes, much better to make them at 19 when you can "do over" in a minute, than it is to screw up at 40 when you wreck your career, marriage and children. You gave your son a great foundation, he will figure it out.
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