The term “Manufactured Kids” was coined by the former dean for freshmen at the University of Stanford, Julie Lythcott-Haims. In her new book titled “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Over-parenting Trap and Prepare Your Kids for Success,” the former dean delves in great detail into the very common practice of raising children to become eligible for admission into Ivy League schools.
I am sure anyone reading this knows at least one family that is currently raising their children to fit into this category. Now, there is nothing wrong with being ambitious about your children’s future. But there is a limit to pushing them into something they don’t want to do. Haims recalls an instance where she met a father-son duo at the freshman orientation night a few years ago. Arjun and his father were approached and a conversation was started.
Arjun’s father was interested in inquiring about the chemical engineering program at Stanford for his son. When Haims looked at Arjun and asked him about his own goals and his understanding about the research. The young man looked dumbfounded and immediately gazed at his father to answer for him.
This behavior is described by the former dean as “helicopter parenting” and parents do not comprehend the kind of emotional and psychological damage it instills upon the children that they love so dearly. It almost completely dulls out the child’s ability to think independently or handle the demands of becoming a successful adult.
Although the parents of these children are extremely happy that their kids have been accepted into an Ivy League school, the children themselves often broke down into tears when asked what they want to get out of their college career.
“I sat with far too many students describing what ‘everyone’ expected them to study or pursue.”
The harm isn’t caused only by pushing, but also by denying, says the author. Parents that cushion their children from life’s changes, deny them the opportunity to build resilience. By managing their kids’ homework and literally battling with coaches and teachers, they are denying the knowledge and experience of how life works and how to deal with problems as mature adults.
She offers a simple solution. Listen, every kid has a voice and the power to speak out about what they want in life. All we have to do as parent’s is listen to those voices. She states that the problem also lies with over glorifying Ivy League schools. There are well over 3,000 registered and accredited universities across America that offer the same quality of education and a chance for a brighter future.