When I was in high school, there were times I resented living at home. For a few years, my mother definitely fit the definition of a “helicopter parent.” She could be overbearing to the point of reading my text messages and stopping by my friends’ houses to make sure I was where I said I would be.
No matter how bad things got, however, they never escalated to the situation of Aubrey Ireland.
The 21-year-old music theater major at the University of Cincinnati recently won a restraining order against her parents. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Ireland told the court that her parents routinely drove 600 miles from Kansas to Ohio to make unannounced visits to her at school. They accused her of illegal drug use, promiscuity and mental illness and installed keylogging software on her computer and cellphone to keep track of her.
She told the court that she was a “dog with a collar on.”
This kind of parental control does exactly the opposite of what parents intend it to do. Parents want the best for their children and hope that by interfering, they can help bring about the best experiences for them. Yet by having a hand in their children’s lives, parents actually make it easier for them to make bad decisions in the long run.
The greatest lessons I’ve learned have come from the mistakes I’ve made. When parents consistently prevent their kids from making those mistakes, they don’t learn how to pick themselves up and fix their own problems after they fail. That can lead to a fear of failure and disappointing others, two things we all will experience at some point in our lives and need to know how to handle. We all need to have a few things go wrong in order to learn how to make them right.
If children never face challenges on their own, they won’t know how to deal with adversity and succeed in spite of it. It is from those challenging experiences that we become more independent and grow as individuals, learning what we want and how we can best get there on our own — because as much as a helping hand might be appreciated at times, our parents will not be there forever to pave the path for our success.
When children don’t learn to struggle through issues on their own, they don’t learn to problem-solve and may be less confident in their abilities. Especially in the professional world of adults, confidence is important — employers will not be inclined to hire applicants who have not learned to work through problems and who don’t have confidence in their ability to do so.
It was a tough transition when I arrived at college for my mother to leave matters in my own hands, but I was assertive and explained to her several times how she was hurting me by continuing to hover from afar. By consistently getting good grades and making wise decisions for my future, I proved that I was worthy of trust and capable of handling my own responsibilities. Our relationship is now better than it has ever been.
It doesn’t always have to take a restraining order.
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