It is the role of the parents to socialize their children to become productive members of society. However, the infantilizing of America’s college students has gone too far. We go to college to begin our launch into the world of adulthood; however, this is impeded by parents who coddle their children in an attempt to ensure that their child will not experience failure. Failure, once a natural part of growth and a part of the path to success, has become a taboo. Debate, once a healthy part of classroom discussions, now leads to hurt feelings and the enforcement of “trigger warnings.” Our culture has changed, and instead of teaching young adults about the power and importance of independence, we are breeding a culture of sissies and cowards.
There are many ways in which I have personally observed parents of my friends, classmates, and peers coddling their children. Parents are constantly praising their children even when praise is not warranted. Of course, encouragement is always appropriate and is an important way to improve a student’s self-esteem. However, indiscriminate praise leads to the over-valuing of a student’s success which can then promote narcissistic attitudes and behaviors. Additionally, college is a place where students are expected to try new things and push themselves outside of their comfort zones. Therefore, it is inappropriate to constantly applaud a person for doing what is expected of him or her.
“Trigger Warnings” were originally created to alert readers or viewers that a piece of published material may cause anxiety or distress for people dealing with a trauma or grief. I am in no way diminishing the importance of “trigger warnings,” as long as it is used in the correct environment. If students demand trigger warnings before a discussion in an academic class, then how can they ever expect to be exposed to material that will push them outside of their comfort zones? The whole point of attending rigorous classes in college is to learn to think critically, learn to be self-reflexive, and to be exposed to new material. The demand for “trigger warnings” in the classroom is a definite way to make sure that you will not be challenged or have to discuss issues that may cause discomfort, completely minimizing the whole point of engagement in discussions during a college class.
Lastly, there are too many parents who are “failing to launch” their children into society. In fact, there has been a new syndrome, “Failure to Launch Syndrome” adopted by psychologists and psychiatrists when treating adolescents who are having a difficult time transitioning into phases of development that require an increased need for independence and autonomy. There needs to be a balance, and parents and children need to find the balance between dependence and independence.
College students in particular are at a crucial point in their lifetimes where they need to learn to function without mommy and daddy. Too often, students are basing their decisions on the expectations of their parents. Too often, students are turning to their parents to get advice on how to draft an email to a professor. Too often, students are turning to their parents to help obtain an internship for the upcoming summer. Not often enough, are parents cutting the cord and encouraging their children to be autonomous.