Let Them Do What They Can

I recently heard a story about a college student who was upset that his professor didn’t give him the grade he felt he deserved. Instead of handling the situation himself, the student called his mother on the phone in front of the entire classroom and complained to her. Believe it or not, his mom said, “Put your professor on the phone, so I can talk to him.”

Fortunately, the professor has clear boundaries. When the young man marched to the front of the room and handed him the phone, the professor refused to take the call. He told the student, “This is not high school. I have no intention of discussing your grade with your mother.”

I raised two boys, so I sympathize with every parent who struggles to set clear boundaries. When your children are first born, you do everything for them. But as they get older, your day-to-day role in their lives should diminish. The important thing is to provide loving support while you are not doing for your children what they can do for themselves. Ideally, by the time they do it themselves, you and your children will be clear about where your responsibility ends and theirs begins.

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