Supporting Parents. Fostering Change.

Raising a Resilient Young Adult

In this article in Psychology Today, “Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges“, Peter Gray, PhD discusses how we’ve raised a generation of “Young people, 18 years and older, going to college still unable or unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, still feeling that if a problem arises they need an adult to solve it.”

There is a bit of a mixed message communicated to parents of college bound children by our educational system.  ”Stop coddling” “Allow your child to fail” “Teach your child to solve their own problems”  while at the same time perpetuating the idea that a child will not get into a “good” college without perfect test scores, a solid 4.0 average, and a college resume replete with superior extra curricular activities.  How is a parent suppose to respond to these pressures? By allowing their child to fail? To let them figure it out by themselves?   I don’t think so.

In the minds of many parents, there is way too much for their child to lose to risk getting it wrong.  Parents feel they have failed if they aren’t able to smooth the path for their child to get into a good college.  This is a long, arduous, and highly competitive path. And, it is a rare parent that has the wherewithal to think beyond high school and reflect on whether their child will have the tools and emotional resilience to cope on their own once they get to their dream school.  If failure and struggle are to be “normalized” and “growth is to be achieved by striking the right balance between support and challenge” then maybe we can hear more about colleges and universities being less focused on GPAs and test scores and more willing to accept and encourage those high school students who demonstrate a willingness to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them.

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