Former Stanford Dean Says Overparenting Leads To Kids Being Unprepared For College

June Banker helps her son, Michael, move into his dorm room at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005. (Kevin Rivoli/AP)

Around the country, students are moving into college dorms for the first time. As former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, Julie Lythcott-Haims observed parents becoming increasingly involved in their children’s lives. Consequently, their kids arrived at college without some basic living skills. In response, Lythcott-Haims published the 2015 book, “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.”

Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti’s revisits a conversation from August 2015 with Lythcott-Haims (@DeanJulie) about the book.

3 Parenting Tips From Julie Lythcott-Haims

  1. Stop staying “we.” In conversation about your children, don’t refer to their work or achievements by using “we.” “We” are not on the soccer team, “we’re” not doing the science project, and “we’re” not applying to college.
  2. Stop arguing with the adults in your children’s lives. Kids need to learn to advocate for themselves with their teachers, coaches or other school staff. They should have these conversations themselves.
  3. Stop doing your children’s homework. The only way kids will learn is by doing their work themselves.

Book Excerpt: ‘How to Raise an Adult’

By Julie Lythcott-Haims

Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.

(Traveler, there is no path. The path is made by walking.)1

—Antonio Machado (1875–1939)

This is a book about parents who are overinvolved in the lives of their kids. It looks at the love and fear behind our overinvolvement. It looks at the harm we cause when we do too much. And it looks at how we might achieve better long-term ends—and help our kids achieve even greater success—by parenting differently.

I love my kids as fiercely as any parent does, and I know that love is the foundation for all we do as parents. But in my years researching this book I’ve learned that many of our behaviors also stem from fears; perhaps chief among them is the fear that our kids won’t be successful out in the world. Of course it’s natural for parents to want their kids to

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR7 min read
Songs That Say 'Me Too'
Women have posted the phrase on social media to raise awareness of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment. Here is a list of songs in which artists said "me too."
Sports Lesson: Don't Let Up Until The Game Is Officially Over
Bosnian soccer team Bosna Visoko was down by 1. As the other team intentionally ran out the clock, Bosna Visoko sat down on the field. The other team took advantage of that and scored 2 goals.
NPR2 min read
Why World Hunger Isn't Going Away As Fast As We'd Hoped
There have been decades of progress in the fight against hunger. But the rosy numbers don't tell the whole story.