Therapist weighs in on parent involvement in wake of college admissions scandal

Hadas Kuznits
March 15, 2019 - 4:00 am

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A therapist discusses the fine line between helping and overstepping boundaries as the college admissions scandal uncovered by the FBI has gotten parents to reconsider their involvement in their children's so-called success. 

Dr. George James, a marriage and family therapist, says while most parents might not consider bribing a college admissions company to help their child get into an elite school, many do in fact overstep their boundaries in small ways.

"Unfortunately, parents do help their children, and "help" is in quotations, right, where sometimes parents are doing the homework," James said. 

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And he says that's unfortunate because learning to accomplish something on your own is what leads to those good feelings of pride and competence.

"A lot of times we'll hear people talk about the value of a dollar or the value of that grade. They know how hard they worked for it and it has significance, and that significance can lead to happiness, versus, on the other side, when it's just given to you, it can lead to entitlement," he said. 

So what leads a parent to take such measures? Dr. James says a motivating factor could be feelings of anxiety in the parent. 

"How our children do, whether that be athletically or academically can feel like a reflection on that parent," he said. 

He adds that feelings of not being good enough can lead to bad choices.