Yesterday, I began a mini-series on what’s happened the last decade with students. It was ten years ago we first heard the term: “Helicopter Parent.” It was about the same time, we heard the term: “Frustrated Teacher.” According to nationwide polls, parents became the number one frustration of educators, even more than bully-kids or troubled students. After a decade of over-parenting and misdirected parenting, I plan to take a few days and unpack what’s happened to the young people and what we can do to correct it. I will offer a challenge and an idea to lead students each day this week.
Here’s idea number two…
Don’t think CONTROL, think CONNECT.
Too often, our ambition as a parent or teacher is to seize control. We want to govern every action and direct each step kids take as they play, work or study. Studies show that parents who over-program their child’s schedule often breed kids who rebel as teens. Why? They never got to truly be a child.
It’s true. Adults today, especially parents, don’t trust the world their kids are growing up in. According to author Hara Estroff Marano, “There’s a huge distrust in other parents and society’s institutions that pushes parents to over-parent.” In an uncertain, competitive world, parents feel compelled to run interference so they can give their kids every possible advantage in life. So—they opt for control. This makes sense, until you begin to see the consequences: kids who are disabled emotionally because an adult did it all for them, or kids who feel entitled for the same reason.
Let me remind you: control is a myth. None of us are actually “in control.” Instead, effective leaders work to connect with students. Why? Because once we connect, we build a bridge of relationship that can bear the weight of hard truth. We earn our right to genuinely influence them. Only then, is the responsibility in the right spot: on the student. They must own the responsibility for their choices and actions. And with that weight appropriately on them for their age, will they look to adults they trust for guidance. Naturally, they will look to the adults who connect with them.
This is why we plan to release a whole new Habitudes book on January 15th called: Habitudes For the Journey. It contains thirteen images, each representing timeless principles and decisions students must make in times of transition.
It will ask questions like:
- Where do you get your energy from—the future or the past?
- What values have you developed that you really own?
- Who do you have in your life that keeps you on the right path?
- When you encounter something or someone new, do you build a wall or a bridge?
This resource is perfect for first-year students, or first year programs at schools, as well as parent-student conversations at Starbucks.