It takes a village

June 13, 2017, 7:44 p.m. | By Charles Lott | 7 years ago

Parental involvement can be both good and bad

Some Blair students have parents who check Edline religiously, help with homework and don't let their children leave the house unmonitored. Others opt for complete freedom, letting their children party and take care of their own business without oversight. Most high school parents fall somewhere between these two extremes, and it begs the question: how much parental involvement is just right?

Many high school students believe that their parents are too overbearing. For junior Annie Zhou, parental involvement is a necessary evil. "My parents check my grades often," Zhou explains. "I sometimes have to remind them that grades are not final 'til the end of the quarter. They get worried every time I do badly on a test." While having another set of eyes on interim report cards can be daunting, it can also have a positive influence. "I think that parents should be vigilant of their kids. It will push them to try harder," continues Zhou.

How much parental involvement is just right? Photo courtesy of Abigail Landesman.

A little push doesn't hurt, but some students are starting to feel the consequences of too much oversight. According to Time Magazine, so-called "helicopter parenting" has been proven to cause depression in youth. Some Blair students are watched more closely than others by their parents.

Sophomore Avery Brooks appreciates her parents' involvement in her life, but concedes that it sometimes gets a bit over-the-top. "They're super involved in me and my siblings' lives. They know where we are and we're required to update them every so often of where we are and what we're doing," Brooks says. "I can't really lie about where I'm going because they can use 'Find My iPhone' to see where I am whenever they want." Technology like phones and GPS trackers has made it easier than ever for parents to keep tabs on their children.

Not all Blazers have the same experience when it comes to parental involvement. Senior Camille Torfs-Leibman describes a family that loves and supports her, but ignores Edline and trusts her to make her own decisions. "My parents have always trusted that I put enough pressure on myself to do well. I really like being responsible because it allows for me to have wiggle room and recuperate after a bad day without someone breathing down my back," Torfs-Leibman says. Not all teenagers, however, are driven enough to keep track of their own lives.

Just like with overbearing parents, there is a more extreme end of the spectrum. Silver Spring came into the national spotlight in 2015 thanks to the "free range kids." Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were charged with child neglect for allowing their six and ten year old children to walk home alone. Similarly, there are Blair parents who let their kids drink and smoke without punishment.

The importance of parental involvement or lack thereof extends beyond the walls of academia. For junior Lillian Carranza, her parents most closely monitor her religious life. "My parents are from Guatemala, and it's hard for them to accept sometimes that I don't want to go to church. They blame everything that happens on not going to church," describes Carranza. "We go to church usually on Saturday and Sunday. I don't have a problem with going, but sometimes I don't have time. I wish they wouldn't try to shove their beliefs down my throat."

Children are inclined to reject the religion of their family, and often go on to leave the church. According to Family Life, 70% of children have left their parents' faith by the time they graduate college. For many kids, anything that they are forced to undergo without agreeing to it is anathema.

What does this all mean? There are too many conflicting viewpoints and stories to determine what the ideal amount of parental involvement is for a high school student. Different teens need different levels of help with things like schoolwork and social life. The most important thing is honesty. If both parties tell the truth and don't expect too much from one another, an easier relationship between parents and kids can develop. After all, a small concession goes a long way.

Tags: Freedom students adcademics free range kids overbearing parental involvement parents

Charles Lott. My name is Charlie, and I'm the features editor for Silver Chips Online. I enjoy reading, using Oxford commas, and playing frisbee for Blair. More »

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