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Obsessive parenting may hinder children's independent growth, experts say

By Zou Shuo | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-27 09:03
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Parents and their children consult admissions workers at Wuhan University in Wuhan, Hubei province, in June last year. After the children take part in the national college entrance exam, or gaokao, they begin preparing for the application process. CHINA DAILY

The prevalence of teacher-parent WeChat groups monitoring college students has shown that many parents are not treating their adult children as independent adults, experts said.

They cautioned that parents shouldn't treat their children going off to college the same as when they were in primary and middle school.

Parents need to step back from playing a leading role in education and offer more room for their children to grow independently, they said.

Peng Shaofeng, an associate professor at the Department of Sociology at Hunan Normal University in Changsha, Hunan province, said some of the chat groups started by parents showed signs of excessive control over their children.

Other chat groups started by universities reflected their responsibility in student management, with the groups being a way for them to handle risks with parents' help, he said.

College is an important period for students to separate from their parents and start out on their own. Parents need to adjust their parenting approach and give their children more trust and independence as adults, he said.

Meddling parents might harm their children's self-esteem and the development of independent thinking, he added.

Xu Lan, a professor at the center for higher education development at Xiamen University in Fujian province, said many parents of college students nowadays have received higher education themselves and want their children to repeat their success. They are also more confident in their parenting skills and believe that they should have a bigger say in educating their children, she said.

However, when parents focus too much on their children's daily lives in college, it can lead to rebellion and arguments. Some students might even block their parents on social media platforms, which exacerbates parents' desire to be involved in the chat groups, she said.

Some parents' obsession with the academic performance of their children has caused problems with their children's worldview and personality as well as created obstacles in social life, Xu said.

It has led to psychological issues and the increase of "adult babies", she said in an interview with China Newsweek.

The immaturity of many college students is caused by family education and exam-oriented school education, and university teachers need to deal with the consequences, which is a dangerous trend.

Bao Wei, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Education at Peking University, said the education of students in college should be different from that in basic education.

Parents should only play a supportive role, rather than being overbearing or controlling, which is vital for students' independent development and interpersonal relationships.

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