SALT LAKE CITY — Recent college admissions scandals have created a national conversation about integrity, privilege and parental involvement in an adult child’s college education.
Now, a recent study conducted for The New York Times suggests that parents aren't only going to excessive lengths to help their adult children through school: many are doing basic adult tasks for them.
- A nationally representative sample of 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of children that age was surveyed from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3 to determine parental involvement, according to The New York Times.
Results of the poll: The poll found that more than half of parents give their adult children monthly financial assistance of some kind.
Other findings of the poll are as follows:
- 76 percent of parents reminded their adult children of deadlines, including schoolwork deadlines, that they need to meet.
- 74 percent of parents made appointments for their adult children, including doctor’s appointments.
- 44 percent of those with college students made tuition or loan payments for them.
- 22 percent of parents helped their adult children study for a college test
- 16 percent of parents helped write all or part of their adult child’s job or internship application
Other notable results of the poll are that 12 percent of parents gave more than $500 per month to their adult children for rent or daily expenses, 11 percent contacted a child’s employer if they had an issue with work and 8 percent contacted a professor or administrator to discuss their child’s grades at college.
Parents also reported being more engaged in relationships with their grown children than they were with their own parents. Eight in 10 said they were “always” or “often” texting their adult children.
According to The New York Times, wealthier parents are more likely to have increased involvement in their child’s adult life.
When asked at what age adult children should be financially independent of their parents, the largest share of young people said 25 to 28.
Helicopter parenting trend: According to The New York Times, findings of the new poll are consistent with the trend of increased parental involvement in children’s school and work life.
Parents have had an increasingly “pervasive presence” in the college recruiting process in the past 10 years, according to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute, with many submitting resumes and attending career fairs on behalf of their child.
Why is it happening: According to researchers, the three factors driving most parents who are very involved in their adult child’s life are widening inequality, the importance of a college degree and fears for their child’s financial security.
- A study conducted by the Federal Reserve last year found that “Millennials are less well off than members of earlier generations when they were young, with lower earnings, fewer assets and less wealth.”
- Mothers particularly are spending more time and money on their children than any previous generation, with a heavy focus on education, according to The New York Times.
Laura Hamilton, author and sociologist at the University of California, Merced, told The New York Times, “It’s really hard for parents to understand why you wouldn’t do anything you could do to assist your children. If you have the influence, the connections and the money, it’s not surprising to me that the parents made these choices.”
Why it is hurting young adults: While parents may think that this level of involvement is helpful for their children, it’s detrimental for their development of life skills and can even negatively impact their mental health, according to The New York Times.
Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshmen at Stanford and author of “How to Raise an Adult,” said parents are preventing their adult children from truly growing up.14 comments on this story
- "If you’re doing it in high school, you can’t stop at college,” she said. "If you’re doing it in college, you can’t stop when it comes to the workplace. You have manufactured a role for yourself of always being there to handle things for your child, so it gets worse because your young adult is ill-equipped to manage the basic tasks of life."
According to The New York Times, “Research has shown that children of hyper-involved parents are often more successful at navigating college and finding good jobs — but that they are less self-reliant and more likely to face anxiety or depression.”
Parents need to give their adult children room, according to The New York Times.
“The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid,” Lythcott-Haims said.