Bound by distrust

Overcautious parenting and its implications on student success


Photo by Kait

Tied up in caution tape: overprotective parenting causes students to feel restricted.

Increasingly protective parenting styles are becoming common in modern communities, but the way teenagers view that restrictiveness varies. 

23% of students believe they have overprotective parents. Having parents who are not strict in raising their children are more beneficial, according to Lilliana Perez, junior. Parents who are overly strict can cause teens to act up or rebel in the future, Perez says. 

“I think it causes their kids to be so stressed out over everything like they’re scared that their parents are going to kill them because they didn’t do good on the test,” Perez said. “And I feel like it’s going to impact the way [the kids are] going about college because they’re worried about judgment.”

While many she may have parents with high expectations today, Perez says that she will try to parent in her own way when she has children. The most successful parent is one who cares about their kid and gives them liberty, all while making sure their kid is safe, according to Perez. 

“I don’t think I want to be a strict parent, I’m gonna let my kids have their freedom. I’ll trust them and they can trust me, if they show me responsibility and that they can handle certain things like having a curfew,” Perez said. “Then, I let them have it, it’s a matter of trust. I don’t think I will be too overbearing but I definitely think that I would want to think about what they’re doing every day and know what’s happening, but not too invested in their daily business.”

Other students who have experienced a firm parenting style also say that parenting in that manner does not result in success, including Mike Renz, 2015 graduate. The pattern in Renz’s life of strict parents raising rebellious children leads him to think “the stricter a parent is, the worse it can go for their children,” Renz said.

While children may generally rebel against strict parents, Puja Lad, 2019 graduate, says that parents can also make it difficult to find the balance between academics and social life when those children go to college, “because I missed out so much in high school, every moment to socialize is like, golden. If I don’t take that opportunity to socialize, it feels like I’m missing out, because I did miss out for the last four years.”

According to Lad, 21st-century parents are “incompetent.” Even though her parents, in particular, were strict, she believes modern parents, in general, are too lenient and materialistic.

“When I saw [some students], like if you watch their snapchat stories, and you see how hard they party, and you see the fact that their parents buy them alcohol or drugs, and you see the fact that their parents let them go out and stay that late, […] [and buy] them designer clothes, and it’s so materialistic, that parenting isn’t even parenting anymore, it’s just pleasing your child until they feel content with you. They’re just buying their love,” Lad said.



With the changes in technology, the questions of whether parenting has changed for the better persists. 

Lad says that if her parents had used a tracker like Life360 on her, she would have just left her phone at home. It might not have mattered, however, because they would track her in real life.

“If I told them like ‘oh I’m at the library’ they would come and make sure, they would check the library parking lot to make sure my car was parked there,” Lad said.

Lad figured out her own ways to bypass her parents’ strict guidelines. She “can always find a way to escape.” Students finding loopholes to prevent them from being tracked shouldn’t come as a surprise though, according to Meggie Furlong, 2018 graduate.

“I think it encourages [kids] to find loopholes when parents just have no trust and are hypersensitive,” Furlong said. Furlong believes that her parent’s trust in her created a positive open line of communication between her and her parents.

Students like Perez say that tracking apps can be intrusive and frustrating. Although her parents are not that strict, Perez says, they have enforced tracking apps like Life360 which Perez is not necessarily happy about.

“I was a little upset in the beginning, but it makes sense why we have it, like in certain aspects it’s good because they can learn from where I am. It can upset me sometimes because I feel like they shouldn’t always be able to [track me]” Perez said.

Similar to various other aspects of our world, parenting has been able to change and adapt to new technology and views according to Justine Repplinger, math teacher and parent.

 “It was pretty nice for us kids because we had a lot of independence and our parents had a lot of trust in us because we couldn’t be in constant communication,” Repplinger said. “We could go outside and play all day with little supervision. We just had to be back in time for dinner.”

New technology allowing parents to know the whereabouts of their kids 24/7 affects how much parents worry about their kids. They seem to have less detachment and separation from their kids according to Repplinger.

“In terms of my own parenting, from my oldest to my youngest child and the birth of technology there’s quite a bit of difference. I think technology has made me more neurotic as a parent and more anxious, not in a good way,” Repplinger said. “Out of sight out of mind used to be a good rule of thumb and now that they’re always in your mind and never not really connected to you you’re constantly worrying.”

Although the latest generation of parents has new technology to become accustomed to, some parenting techniques don’t fail to get passed down from generation to generation. Karen Adams, attendance secretary and parent, says that her parents influenced her parenting style in many ways.

“I think I parent, a lot the way my parents parented me. You know, I’m not gonna say [my children] didn’t get in trouble but I think they’re respectful. They’re loyal people and they make their mistakes but they know we were not [that] strict,” Adams said. “We were pretty laser-focused on what we wanted out of them and I think they learned from that.”

The focus on their kids has stemmed from their upbringings and even shaped how they want to control their family and their relationships overall according to Jorie Schaffer, sophomore parent.

“Growing up in a conservative but social household molded us to have a freely open conversation family where we share everything together. I would like to think that it helped my kids know that they can always come to us with anything no matter what the situation is and we’ll always help them and be a guide for them,” Schaffer said. “Strong morals growing up and continuing that conservative nature going forward, keeping everything safe and clean and everybody happy.” 

The safety and love of kids is what fuels a parent, and this is something that Schaffer believes will stay the same in the future.

I think as time moves forward that parents will get a lot more involved and protecting their children with social media and protecting their kids in general because the world isn’t as safe as it used to be. When I was a kid I’d go door to door selling things in little pigtails and it was perfectly safe and my parents didn’t even have to watch me. I don’t know if that’s true this day and age,” Schaffer said. “Unfortunately the world today isn’t as conservative which takes getting used to as a parent.”


Culture/Birth Order: 

Teenagers of different backgrounds often find themselves struggling with cultural traditions and customs, in fact, 78.5% of students believe their culture impacts how they are raised.

Culture makes a big difference in the way parents raise their children, Lad says. Her parents immigrated from India about 30 years ago, and they brought a lot of traditions to their household, including desires to protect her because she is a girl. 

 “It’s a culture shock for parenting. Because now since we’re girls, everything is dangerous,” Lad said. “I only got my black belt in tae kwon do not because I wanted to, but because my parents wanted me to, because I had to protect myself, and all of that.”

Besides protections due to her gender, Lad says her parents were also very strict with her. She couldn’t have sleepovers, she had a 9pm curfew, she wasn’t allowed to get her driver’s license until she was a senior, and even then, she couldn’t drive with the radio on or ride with friends. Lad acknowledges that her parents were trying to protect her, but her behavior in high school was far from what they thought it was.

“I would do a lot of scheming, I would lie a lot. So I was supposed to take the bus to and from school. But around my senior year, I started riding home with friends and stuff, and I would lie to them about it,” Lad said. “I would sneak out at night, because who wants to go home at 9pm if your curfew’s 9pm? I would sneak out at like 11 and come home at like 5am on a school day and just be out with friends.”

While she may have been able to make late-night excursions without her parents’ knowledge, Lad would not be able to take part in any extracurriculars that weren’t considered “practical” by her parents. She says she regrets not pushing her parents to let her be more involved and feels like she missed out in her childhood.

It deeply affected her in college because “I never played an instrument, I never played a sport, I never did theater, I didn’t do any of that. So coming to college, all my friends here […] have so [many] things that they can be involved in, and I’m just kind of singled out because I’ve never done any of that stuff before,” Lad said. “Like how cool would it be to play an instrument, not when you’re 18 but when you were 12?”

Similar to Lad, students like Kaia Rytel, junior, say that cultural background makes a significant impact on how strict parents are. Rytel says that since her parents came from Poland, that inspired them to raise their children so that they would achieve more in the future. 

“I think they’re strict in a good way that they care about my success and they want me to strive just like they did when they first came to the US,” Rytel said. “I feel like because my parents came from nothing but they also want me to succeed and they want me to build off of not really anything because obviously I have family here, but because they came with nothing they want me to see what it’s like to succeed on your own and not rely on other people.”          

However, culture is not the only aspect that impacts parenting, Perez says. Birth order had a significant impact on the way her parents treated her compared to her younger sister, says Perez.

“I feel like I was causing a lot more stress because I was their first kid and now with my sister, they know how we act, I guess, and they’re much more laid back with her,” Perez said. “I mean, I’m the first one to do everything for the family so it’s kind of a learning curve for them so when my sister actually comes and does it a lot more fluid. Because they know I’ve been responsible and I have their trust so they expect my sister and I have to behave the same way.”

While students may struggle with different backgrounds and new technology, most students have one thing in common: parents who are trying to find the right balance between protection and independence. Repplinger says “A lot of the things about parenting are the same because I think according to any parent, their children are the most important thing to them. Everything revolves around them and that’s still true. […] I think the difference is how connected you are to your kids 24/7. Which is good and bad. But the bad part is, I don’t know if it gives kids enough independence that they need to grow.