Overindulgent Parents, Underachieving Children

As a teacher, I have always believed that our mission transcends the task of simply transmitting knowledge, and calls upon us to give children the means to succeed in life. I also believe that we should not limit ourselves to teaching our students the standard curriculum in Math, Science, and English, but should also give them the tools to be effective parents themselves when the time comes.

Regrettably, no one teaches us how to be parents, and when the time comes, we often confront the challenge by improvising and learning on the job from our repeated mistakes. As parents, we often go to one extreme or the other: We become overprotective of our children or give them too little protection. This leads to some kids being shielded from all their responsibilities and being unable to do anything on their own, and others being left to fend for themselves in the absence of any supervision. Good parenting requires us to strike a balance between protecting them and letting them discover the world on their own.

One of the major problems that I have encountered as a teacher is that of overindulgent parents, who—in their desire to protect their children—keep them in their comfort zone; this ends up sabotaging their academic achievement. I know from experience that there are some parents who often do their children’s homework and other academic work, because the youngsters are unable to understand the concepts in the work sent home by the teachers for further study. Worse still, since the teachers are under the impression that the students have already mastered the concepts, they do not schedule any further review of the topic. This does not help our students; it has the opposite effect, because it encourages irresponsibility and deceit. These habits will, in the long run, end up hindering the chances of academic success.

As teachers, we must contend with the myriad of excuses that parents give to explain why their children did not do their homework; some excuses are very creative, but most are very run-of-the-mill. Parents often make excuses to explain their children’s absence from class—such as excessive medical appointments, family illness, unavoidable social gatherings, or frequent out-of-town trips.


If a teacher tells parents that their children need to come to class every day and to avoid being absent unless absolutely necessary, some parents may consider this an aggressive stance. Some parents find it easier to change teachers than to change their children’s attitude. Sometimes, it is not even the attitude of the children that is at fault, but rather that of the parents, who have no confidence in the children’s ability to perform, and who promote a culture of minimum effort that in effect condemns the students to mediocrity.

Parents should strive to create in their children the habits of responsibility, perseverance, self-confidence, self-discipline, thinking big, and aspiring to a better future. This will sow the seeds of greatness in their children, so allowing them to stand out and succeed in every endeavor they may pursue.

In contrast, parents who overprotect their children and let them get away with bad habits—such as avoiding responsibility, making excessive excuses to avoid doing any work, behaving disruptively, and having too much leisure time—may inadvertently be condemning their children to failure.

Many high achievers attribute their success to what their parents taught them about how to do things on their own and to their resultant belief that if they try hard enough, they will succeed.

If you, as parents, want your children to succeed, it is important that you believe in them, and promote in them the confidence that they can succeed in anything they set their mind to achieving. Encourage good habits in them—such as working hard, being responsible, and not settling for low or average grades—in other words, endeavoring to be the best they can through constant effort and an unwavering desire to succeed.

There is a proven recipe for success that I would like to share with you:

Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.

Arnold H. Glasow

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