Parents Play a Part, But Students Take The Lead

By Mary Mangual

The Hoof Print (McDonough, Georgia)

An important buzz phrase in the world of child-rearing is the term “helicopter parent.” Grounds for its usage are a matter of opinion. For some it’s the parent who doesn’t let their child play beyond their line of sight. For other’s it’s the parent who reads their child’s texts on a regular basis. Some argue that certain issues shouldn’t be trusted to child’s judgment and that parents should take some choices away from their child to preserve their child’s best interests. Still, some would also argue that if children aren’t allowed to make mistakes then they will never learn how to be truly independent.

Much legislation on the state and federal levels is aimed at “leveling the playing field” to encourage more children to succeed. Yet some factors can’t be changed. Parents have a lot of influence over who their children become. Sometimes parents provide their children with extra advantages, help on homework and with extracurricular activities. But, according to some, the attention given by helicopter parents is not always a plus for their children. Top-ranked colleges have recently reported an increase in parents that get involved in their child’s academics and responsibilities. Some are concerned that if the trend persists people will enter the “real world” without knowing how to function independently.

Jessie Hilliard, junior, considers her parents to be on the hands-off side of the spectrum. They check her grades but let her decide when and how to do her work. She said her parents have little effect on her motivation because she is “good at school.” Yet she still believes that it is ideal for parents to get involved with their child’s academics. “I think it would push me more.” She said.

Morgan Crump, junior, also said that her parents leave her work to her. However she strongly thinks that it’s important for parents to be a part of a child’s school life. “Listen, listen, okay if you can’t do your stuff by yourself your parents need to be involved in your life because honestly if my brother did not have my parents he probably wouldn’t even be in college right now. I’m just saying.” She said.

Molly Maneol, freshman, agreed. “I think that kids think that, you know, they can just pull their grades up at the end of the year or something like that. But I think that if you have your parents staying on you you’ll be more likely to succeed.”

In contrast, Jackson Disario, freshman, thinks that students will do better if given a bit of leeway. “The kid will get done what they need to get done either way and it’s less stressful.” He said. He described his parents as very active in his academics which he thinks adds unnecessary stress.

Meredith Green, freshman, also thinks that parents should be hands-off but she recognized a balance. “Some people that just either don’t care about school or don’t really want to be here probably need a more hands-on approach from their parents so that they can be successful and do what they need to do.” She said.

Raja Bryan, sophomore, said that while this year his mom is involved in his work, last year he tried to do it on his own. “If your parents like help you out and they’re involved with your school work then you can, I don’t know, your grades are better because you’re not doing it on your own and if you need help then you can have your parents…help you.” He said. This year he said he is passing all of his classes. Last year he was failing math.

Ryan Drain, career tech teacher, said that it’s more important that parents know what is going on in their student’s academic life. “They get to see what their child is actually involved in…Also it gives more accountability as far as the student actually getting their work done. If the parent is involved their more likely to get their work done.”

Tony Head, math teacher, explained his opinion. “I think parents should be involved from an awareness standpoint, motivating the student to do the work but not doing the work for the student.”

Yet students are still responsible for preparing themselves for a time when they will have to face things on their own. Drain said that one way they can do that is by taking college-like classes while still in high school. “I think the dual enrollment classes are good preparation for college.” He said, “I also think that maybe an online class would help because it’s less hands on. As far as when you’re in a normal k-12 setting you’re high school teachers are constantly on you, constantly monitoring your behavior, your progress, whether or not you turn in assignments but when you’re in a college setting, like a dual enrollment class or just taking a class voluntarily at a college they’re not going to be hands on.”

According to Drain it is the student’s responsibility to find what is called in education “intrinsic motivators.” “That’s something that motivates you from within.” He said, “Whether it’s their drive to be better than what their parents have provided for them, the lifestyle that their parents have provided them, whether it’s their drive to leave McDonough Georgia and go somewhere else. They have to find that intrinsic motivator that helps them to accomplish their goals and tasks.”

Intrinsic motivators vary from student to student. For some it is their dream career.

Lexci Roberts, junior, is motivated by her desire to go to Auburn University. “I want to do either software engineering or computer engineering.” She said.

Bailey Cosper, junior, wants to major in biology and be a pathologist’s assistant. “I want to go to college and make a lot of money.” She said.

For others, like Alex Richards, freshman, it is the ability to do sports, which students must maintain certain grades to play.

Raja Bryan said he keeps up his grades, “So that I can go out and hang out with my friends.”

Seth Youmans has his mind set on the future. “Knowing that there’s going to be a better future for me,” was his motivation.

Head said that two things motivated him while he was in school. For one, he is just wired in such a way that he wants to put forward his best work. For a second, he knows this, “learning is one of those unique things in this world that nobody else can do for you. Only you can do it. you can hire somebody else to cut your grass if your grass needs to be cut but you can’t hire somebody to learn for you, you have to do it yourself and that motivates me because nobody else can do it for me but me.”

Photo Credit: Unsplash

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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