College Students Anxious Like Never Before: Why?

Last kiattnysrs
week’s New York Times had a huge piece by Jan Hoffman on how the sheer number of college students experiencing anxiety is overwhelming the campus mental health centers. Why are young people so very anxious?

Anxiety has become emblematic of the current generation of college students, said Dan Jones, the director of counseling and psychological services at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.

Because of escalating pressures during high school, he and other experts say, students arrive at college preloaded with stress. Accustomed to extreme parental oversight, many seem unable to steer themselves. And with parents so accessible, students have had less incentive to develop life skills.

“A lot are coming to school who don’t have the resilience of previous generations,” Dr. Jones said. “They can’t tolerate discomfort or having to struggle. A primary symptom is worrying, and they don’t have the ability to soothe themselves.”

As I hope you know, I don’t blame parents for being so worried and passing that worry along. When you have a whole culture this knotted with anxiety, it is the culture that’s gone overboard, not individual parents. They are only responding to the fear they’re force-fed.

Still, it might be a good time to pick up a book like Peter Gray’s “Free to Learn” to remind ourselves that one time-honored, fast-acting, absolutely free stress buster was once enjoyed by all kids: Play. In fact, when I heard Gray lecture, he said that the mental health folks at Boston College, where he taught, had told him  that today’s students were coming in for less earthshaking reasons than earlier generations. Maybe they saw a mouse, or had an argument with their roommate. 

I’m not anti mental health counseling. But I do worry about excess worrying. It’s no fun for anyone (even me! Right now! Worrying about worrying about worrying!). – L. 


I'm glad I won't be going to school in 2015.

After class, I’ll text mom to send me my favorite water bottle. Wait — what do I mean by “texting?”

68 Responses to College Students Anxious Like Never Before: Why?

  1. bob m June 1, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    I simply do not understand the desire of some parents to keep their children “children”.

    College used to be one of those benchmarks marking a transition from childhood into adulthood.

    Does not appear to be case anymore.

    The real shame is that the excessive attention paid to aggrieved and triggered students simply detracts from the overall education opportunity for ALL students.

    I was once approached by couple conducting a survey with people passing through Penn Station. I was asked some general questions about issues of the time. When I commented that neither person seemed to be recording my answers, it was then revealed they wanted me to come with them to a meeting.

    Their hook was that I would meet many other people who thought just like me.

    I declined – for a number of reasons – but did say to them that attending a meeting of like minded folks would be quite dull and boring. Better to have a mix of opinions to generate real discussion. They disagreed and kept pushing for me to attend and be comforted by being in a crowd of like minded folks.

    That is what today’s college seems to me – active pushing/recruiting to achieve a single mindset and worldview.

    By the way I was approached that day by reps of the Unification Church – the “Moonies”.

  2. Emily June 1, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    If the solution is play, maybe college and university campuses should install playgrounds full of old-school, dangerous playground equipment, made of wood, metal, chains, and tires, just like the playground equipment I loved as a child. I remember that equipment being just as much fun for older kids as for younger kids, because some of the components were deliberately made to be more “advanced,” so kids wouldn’t master the whole thing before kindergarten, and then get bored with it. I also remember teenagers and sometimes even adults swinging on the swings and whatnot, so I know that a lot of the equipment of my youth would probably be big enough for college and university students to use. Anyway, I know this would never happen, because lawsuits (although, it’d give the law students plenty of opportunities to practice, without having to go anywhere), but it’s fun to fantasize.

  3. Emily June 1, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    P.S., Warren, if you’re around, I think this thread would be a good opportunity for the bulletin board story.

  4. C. S. P. Schofield June 1, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Gee, whatever could college students have to be anxious about? The smart ones will quickly figure out that a BA is worth less, in terms of actual education, than a high school diploma was a hundred years ago, and that they are wasting their time for four years to acquire a piece of paper that is rapidly declining in value (as various employers figure out that it is meaningless). Any male student who has a room temperature IQ (say 10%) will know that any female student can accuse him of horrible crimes on no evidence whatsoever and ruin his life for years if not permanently. Any female student not smart enough to see through the bushwa of the “Rape Culture” hysteria probably believe she is surrounded by horrid panting MEN, lusting for her body and her degradation. The faculty, or at least the smart ones, have to be nervous about whether the whole house of cards is going to come crashing down before they can retire, and that probably transmits to the students as a miasma of unease. And the government keeps threatening to Do Something about the “Student Loan Debt Crisis”, which probably isn’t anywhere near as reassuring as the government intends it to be.

    Have I missed anything?

  5. E June 1, 2015 at 11:34 am #

    This is a fascinating thing to me. I have 2 kids that have gone off to college and they did not show signs of any of the above, nor do the kids in their circle of friends. Those kids run the gamut of having everything done for them and everything paid for, to the opposite end of the spectrum, same goes for the quality of the students — high honors to getting by. We haven’t seen this kind of stress/anxiety.

    Not that I think the stories are made up, I don’t think they are. I do have to wonder if it’s *so* many things that factor in. Does it begin in HS when the kids are told endlessly how competitive it is to get into whatever school they think they want to attend? Is it related to every conceivable life experience being shared via social media and not being able to measure up to the projected ‘perfect’ lives of 100s of friends/acquaintances? Is it because getting mental health help is not a strange thing anymore?

    Is stress/anxiety another thing that kids compare notes about? I show that I value my academics by endlessly talking/thinking about how hard it is? Which just creates a vicious circle/cycle?

    When I was in HS, you got good grades if they were important to you. You could get into the big state (cheap) university as long as your grades were decent. It was just not something you even worried about — at all. And of course, there was no internet and no social media. You had to actually encounter someone in person (or via phone) to learn about what was happening in their lives.

    It’s fascinating to me.

  6. sigh June 1, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    In our town, we have a baseball team that is made up of college boys who come to play in the summers. It’s a commercial enterprise, but the guys aren’t paid, they are put up in local homes and play for the experience.

    I have spoken to more than a few families who have hosted these young men. The reports are often that these kids have never had to do anything for themselves, and I mean ANYTHING: they haven’t had to make breakfast. They haven’t had to do laundry. They haven’t had to negotiate conflicts.

    These guys are 20 years old, but playing for the team here, even though they’ve been at university for a couple of years, is the first time they’ve really been away from their parents or a meal plan. They are lost.

    This is part of why I am encouraging my boy, at age 14, to go to a sports academy in another province… so he can live with a family there during his high school years and by the time he’s ready to be chosen for a scholarship, he’s a proven quantity: a young man who can manage himself, who isn’t going to flake out and fall apart completely if he goes to a school far away from home and has to solve some of his own problems.

    I hear so many sad stories of talented athletes from around here who get awarded scholarships a thousand miles from home. A full ride, and they can’t handle it. They come home and snuggle back into the bosom of their families, their parents who would rather they be close at hand anyway. It’s as though nobody wants the nuclear family to change and evolve; the children were babies once, and as long as they stay close to home, Mom and Dan can retain role as the Alpha and the Omega for their kid.

    I can’t relate to it.

  7. sigh June 1, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    Oh, and lest you think the sports achievement dream is my thing and not my kid’s: he’s been wanting this for a decade, to live away from home and have a life that even vaguely resembles that of a professional athlete.

    I can’t really relate to that either, but I have stretched myself to accommodate. I’m willing to do that. But I won’t try to fit in with all the hand-wringing parents who say they could NEVER send their baby away during high school.

  8. Steve June 1, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    “personal setbacks that might once have become “teachable moments” turn into triggers for a mental health diagnosis.”

    This links the outbreak of “trigger warnings” and other manifestations of PC on college campuses to retarded emotional development caused by overbearing parents. It’s a neat theory and more plausible than, say, “refrigerator mothers” cause autism.

  9. Josephine June 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    Sensory Integration and the Child, by A. Jean Ayers, and parasite and heavy metal cleanses would correct so much of our culture’s ignorance and methods.

  10. Sukiemom June 1, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    Experience = confidence = being able to handle new situations without overstressing. I have always stressed learning competency in lots of areas in my kids (not academics only). They did their own laundry starting at age 10, made their own lunches around the same time, and learned how to cook a meal — not just heat up stuff in microwave only — so they can one day take care of themselves. They also know how to build a fire, do repairs on their bikes and various other useful things that could come in handy someday.
    The more they know how to do things on their own the more kids feel in control. When moms do everything for their little darlings they are unable to cope away from home.

  11. SteveS June 1, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    I worked at a university mental health center back in the mid 1990’s and many of the students came it with some pretty serious issues, such as depression and substance abuse. I wonder the same thing as Peter Gray, that students were more comfortable with coming in for relatively minor issues. The stigma against seeking mental health services has declined, so this rise in services may not be an actual rise in student anxiety.

  12. Fiamma June 1, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    I think what blows my mind is how some parents I come across are concerned about the distance of certain schools. One teen I knew could only apply to schools that were up to four hours away. (We live in NJ.) Another was told they could not go west. When asked, a mother came back with, “Well if something happens, you want to be able to get there right away.” So, with that logic, you deny your kid attending UCLA or McGill University or hell, Oxford University because of something that may or may not happen? What the hell do these people think of the foreign students whose parents clearly are not as stressed out about sending their child to school in the US from China, India, Brazil, Germany, etc. Sure some kids would rather stay local or attend the state school, but I couldn’t imagine looking at my child and saying, “Nope, California or Texas schools are off limits because you know, distance.”

  13. SKL June 1, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    Yeah, I don’t know if it’s more anxiety, or everyday anxiety being pathologized, or some combination of both.

    I had my share of anxious times in college and grad school. It never occurred to me to seek help for it. I just assumed it was normal for a college student to have stress. I thought college was supposed to be a lot harder than high school. Why would people not expect it to be stressful at times?

    Then even more stress as one looks for a job – but isn’t that also to be expected?

    I did get my first white hair in my 3rd or 4th year of grad school. I was juggling finals for law & MBA while grading 100 exams as a grad assistant. And interviewing for a summer job and wondering how I was going to ever pay off all my student debt. And dealing with relationships and and and …. I lived through it with no regrets.

    It’s always such a great feeling to come out of a stressful situation successfully and move on. I wonder if some of that feeling is forfeited if people need professional help to deal with ordinary life stresses. I wouldn’t know from personal experience.

  14. julie5050 June 1, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    My sister works at a major university.We both graduated from it. When we went there was a two hour parent orientation and then we got dropped off at our dorms Now there is a Three day parent orientation “camp” and parents are demanding more time before having to leave campus.

  15. bmj2k June 1, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    “They can’t tolerate discomfort or having to struggle. A primary symptom is worrying, and they don’t have the ability to soothe themselves.”

    Of course not! This is the result of parents turning their kids into pampered rajahs who never had to deal with competition (there are no winners or losers anymore), stress (kids are driven to school and never have to cross a street on their own), or the general trend away from consequences for their actions.

  16. Eric S June 1, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    Isn’t this what we’ve all been saying? I can partly blame parents. They don’t HAVE TO raise their kids in a bubble, they just choose to. They don’t have let the world dictate from what they already know by common sense, but they choose to. Most parents these days weren’t raised the way they raise their kids. And it would seem that this generation is being raised to be too dependent, insecure, and ill equipped to face the real world. I’m sure those parents weren’t raised that way by their parents. Their parents (our parents) taught them (us) to be self-sufficient, self-reliant, and resourceful. All with minimal adult supervision.

    It was a trial and error upbringing back then. With our parents on the sideline just in case we hit a block in the road. Except OUR “block in the road” wasn’t the “rock” of today’s kids. It was a “giant sized boulder”. Most times, we’d figure it out before our parents got involved. And when they did get involved, it wasn’t a “boost” up, it was more “last minute instructions”. We still had to figure it out on our own. It was always hands on for us, with our parents watching to see if we’ve been listening. They rarely did anything for us that we could do ourselves, given the right guidance. And we always managed.

  17. amy June 1, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    Schofield, do you think you could do this without the enraged misogyny? As it happens, a lot of young women do get raped at college — I was one of them, and so were several of my friends — and the false-accusation rate is very low (for good reason). But if you’re a young man who’s that anxious about being accused of rape falsely, I’d suggest a visit to the campus counseling and/or women’s center to learn about what is and is not consent, and…don’t lay hands on a woman without her consent.

    Which would seem to be common sense anyway. The guys who are permanently upset about this seem either have trouble with communicating their wishes or are afraid that the answer’s always going to be “no” (and if it’s no, then…maybe it’s a good idea that you heard it before you tried anything).

    As for the women…I teach in a university, and no, the young women are not going around in a state of fear because they think they’re about to be attacked at any moment. That’s just wrong.

  18. Eric S June 1, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    Props Sukiemom. Props.

  19. C. S. P. Schofield June 1, 2015 at 3:35 pm #


    I’m sorry for your trauma. My Lady is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and watching her deal with the stupid fallout from the Daycare Abuse Hysteria has made me hypersensitive to Social Justice Fads. With multiple campus rape accusations falling through veery publicly in the news, I think your position that false accusations are rare is questionable.

    There is a fashion for putting young men on campus accused of rape through Star Chamber hearings that cannot stand up to legal scrutiny, and which do nobody involved any credit. There are women raped on campuses, but their plight is not helped by hype, hysteria, bogus statistics, and fraud.

  20. Eric S June 1, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    @amy. I don’t down play sexual assaults, anywhere. I know it happens. But I don’t think Schofield was trying to be misogynistic. At least that’s not what I was taking from his comment.

    What I got from that, is that because of the constant fear and paranoia that kids are absorbing from their parents, teachers, friends, and social media, it’s not hard to fathom that these fears can cause women (and men), to see and view things with a narrow mind. I’ve known some people who’ve either been falsely accused, or have falsely accused someone of sexual assault, because of anger. ie. being cheated on, taking advantage of (but the sex was consensual). They accuse, but never fully thinking the consequences of those actions. And just because a guy is flirting with you, doesn’t mean he’s “lusting” after you. Some guys are all talk, no follow through. But if a female has it in her mind that there are sexual predators everywhere, and they are all after HER. What do you think she’ll view in her head when it comes to men in general? Their ill thought out accusations CAN damage a person’s life.

    This also ties in with their insecurities. They don’t know how to take rejection. Don’t know how to cope with loss. Don’t know how to overcome, and empower themselves. Always looking for sympathy, and that “pat on the back for a job well done”. Anger, fear, and frustration can manifest themselves in many negative ways. One of these ways is lashing out, without forethought. Again, this isn’t down playing sexual assault. But again, there are many cases where the accusations were found to be false. We can’t just look at female victims, there are also male victims too. Both falsely accused, or raped themselves. May not happen to men as much, but it does happen.

    We seem to be getting the bad wrap here. When you think of “stranger, kidnapping, pedophile”, who is the first thing that pops into your head? A male right? When there are plenty of females in prison for those very crimes as well. Even domestic abuse. Some men literally get beat up by their girlfriends or wives.

  21. Warren June 1, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    Face it, one of the biggest causes for the rise in cases of anxiety, mental health issues and the whole gambit is very easy to find.

    As with every accident there must be blame, with every personal issue there must be a condition or disorder. So much crap that people just had to deal with and get over, is now a treatable condition or disorder. We have to get back to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get over it, for a lot of it.

    30 years ago you would phone home and be told, “That’s life, it ain’t fair and never will be. Get over it and move on.”

    Now the reply from home is, “Make an appointment with your doctor and see if you can get a referral.”

    There are some things that can be cured with a kick in the butt and “Grow up.”

  22. Liz June 1, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    My husband and I started day 1 of our son’s life by reminding ourselves that we are raising an adult, not a child. We remind ourselves every day, and say things to him like “I wonder what kind of man you’ll be.” If you raise a child, they will stay a child.
    And yes, outside influences effect how a parent treats a child. I was told not to give my son the stage 2 baby food because “what if he’s allergic to it?” …So he stays on formula until he’s 18 and I can’t force him not to eat regular food anymore? You can’t act as though they have already had the bad thing happen- be it an allergy, an accident or other things- or they will never have lived.

  23. Havva June 1, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

    A little while back I was doing a volunteer project at my temple. Lots of repetitive work, and so everyone had time to talk. At one point a volunteer was interrupted by a call from her daughter who couldn’t figure out which type of bread to use for her sandwich, the parent was instantly irritated. I would have expected, a reply of ‘why are you asking me this?’ or, ‘As I said earlier, I’m saving the whole wheat bread for the stuffing’ or, ‘use what you like’, or ‘xyz brand is the one you found really gross.’ Instead the mother launched into a lengthy discussion about the nutritional value of each bread option, then continued with every detail of sandwich preparation and available options. Upon hanging up the phone, and with hardly a pause for breath, she started complained that her daughter (high school age btw) couldn’t seem to make any decisions on her own.

    I had to bite my tongue to keep from rudely blurting out, “if you hate telling her how to do every little thing, quit telling her how to do every little thing. So what if she uses the ‘wrong’ bread and doesn’t like it as much as the other, or it is marginally less nutritious, or if she puts on some toppings that don’t taste good together, or gets watery mustard splatter on the counter, or whatever. The young lady can clean up, try again, life goes on.”

    I seriously didn’t get it. I’m sure my parents wouldn’t have gotten it. But the other parents of high school students at the table were quick to sympathize. After a lot of horrible things said about the teen children of these parents, the conversation turned to anxiety therapy, practically all the volunteers with high school students had them in therapy for anxiety. Sitting there listening, I was stunned. I hear about toxic levels of stress in our high schools. There have been a few suicides. And I’ve heard it noted that those were in the whitest, most affluent schools. You could blame the ivy league pressure. But sitting with those parents for a few hours, the only positive things I heard about the teens were about an autistic teen, (stretching his abilities and succeeding, joys, talents, etc). For the other teens all was coping with their incompetence, their ‘need’ for protection from themselves, and how ‘poorly’ they were doing.

    I wondered if those students all needed anxiety therapy or just needed parents who weren’t so anxious about sandwiches. Whatever happened to “I’m sure you’ll manage” in response to the kid being unsure on how to make a sandwich. I guess some people find that dismissive, but it seems liberating compared to what these parents say instead, and how that colors their opinions of their teens abilities.

    If they “can’t” even make a sandwich on their own in high school, without mom intervening, how terrifying must college feel.

  24. lollipoplover June 1, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    “The more they know how to do things on their own the more kids feel in control. When moms do everything for their little darlings they are unable to cope away from home.”

    (And dads do it too.)

    Anxiety disorders among ALL children are way up, not just college students. Parents can help transition kids to independent living by imparting basic activities of daily living. The more we teach our children, and as parents work ourselves out of a job, the better the chances of succeeding at both their education and in life.

    Unfortunately, the inability to cope with adult responsibilities sends many to mental health treatment (and often prescription medication). There is most definitely a mental health crisis in this country- I won’t downplay it or say that it is better diagnosing, but I do wonder if this is a side effect of helicopter parenting and fear of failure (by parents and children) that leads to such worries.

    I had the best time of my life in college. I did feel overwhelmed the first year by so many choices and distractions. I found healthy ways to cope (and lose the freshman 15) by joining a lacrosse club and mountain climbing club that kept me from getting caught up in the party scene/sorority nonsense that put some of my close friends over the edge (and caused a few to withdraw from school).

  25. Psych student June 1, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    Thinking of everything as dangerous and avoiding scary things is a risk factor (and a symptom, if severe enough) for anxiety disorders. If a culture deliberately teaches its young to expect and avoid danger everywhere and that nowhere is truly safe unless powerful others look out for you, that’s pretty much guaranteed to create a lot of anxiety disorders. Feeling vulnerable, feeling like other people are in control, feeling that you constantly have to be on the lookout, feeling that you don’t dare live your everyday life without safety behaviours and many preparations, feeling that you *narrowly escaped* if a feared situation turned out to be safe instead of adjusting your mistaken perception of danger, catastrophic thinking (imagining the worst possible consequences instead of the most likely) – it’s all there.

    “Worst first” parenting and helicopter parenting aren’t keeping kids safe. These parenting styles are actually exposing kids to a fairly likely danger – anxiety disorders are nothing to laugh at. You won’t die from them and they’re more easily cured compared to other psychiatric disorders, but they cause a lot of suffering and are risk factors for developing other mental and physical illnesses.

    We humans (and other animals too) NEED to feel like we can proactively control our lives, that we’re not in danger or threatened, that life is logical and that we’re easily able to do what we need to do. That’s not a privilege or a feeling that only middle-aged people need (as if children or young people don’t?), it’s absolutely essential for everyone. So it would be great to teach less fear and less sense of powerlessness.

  26. MI Dawn June 1, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    I had a 2 day college orientation in the early 1980s. Parents were NOT invited. Both of my daughters had 2-3 day college orientations and parental involvement was mandatory….so they could tell us all the great things about the school (uh…we know. That’s why our child is attending Great College). Both kids were told they could not attend a college too close to home (unless great money was offered) because we wanted them to be able to learn to cope on their own without the ability to run home to mommy and daddy every night/weekend.

    And yes, horrible things DID happen. Eldest was at Virginia Tech and lost 2 friends to the shooting. Youngest developed appendicitis 300 miles away at college. They coped, and came home as needed. But grew from it.

    Eldest worked at college orientations after her sophomore year. She had great stories about parents who babies their kids (one sat in orientation and combed her son’s hair, then tried to follow him when the kids went out to create their college schedules after the Dean *expressly* told parents they were not to go.) Another mom took her daughter’s finalized schedule and dropped some classes (mandatory) because mom didn’t like when the classes were offered, only to find that there was NO space in any other classes, and that after dropping the classes, daughter couldn’t get back into the ones she had been in. Mom carried on, daughter in tears. Dean calmly said “this is why we tell students not to give anyone their logon information.” The missed classes put the girl a semester behind in her chosen field of study (they were only offered in the fall, but the college allowed her to fill in with other classes but NOT the prerequisite classes.)

    I hear of parents who wonder why the kids are living at home at age 30, even if they are working. Parents who never let their kids stay overnight anywhere, a friend has never let her 10 year old walk down the block to play with her BFF without mom going with her.

    I shake my head. And wonder where we are going.

  27. Emily June 1, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

    Warren, you still didn’t tell the bulletin board story… know, the one where you went to visit your daughter at university, and she showed you the “community events” bulletin board that was covered with posters for support group meetings, and no recreational activities whatsoever? I think you said that she said, “If you have a problem, there’s a support group for it.” But, you told that story the first time better than I did now.

  28. anonymous mom June 1, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

    I agree with SKL that this likely isn’t a rise in actual anxiety disorders, but people seeking help for non-pathological anxiety. I don’t see that as a positive, personally. Less stigma against seeking mental health services *that you genuinely need* is a good thing, but I just don’t think students being unable to cope with normal life stressors on their own is a positive at all.

    Plus, as the story notes, universities do not have unlimited resources. Students with true, diagnosable anxiety services will likely have longer wait times and a harder time accessing the services they genuinely need because students think that feeling worried about your GPA or stressed about finals is something they need a professional to handle for them.

    I don’t know whether students lack coping skills because their parents simply protected them from normal life stress before, or because their parents coped for them instead of teaching them coping skills, or both, or something else, but I do think it’s a problem.

    I will also say that I think we’ve moved beyond–at least for middle- and upper-class white people–there being a stigma against having a mental illness to there almost being a mystique around mental illness. I think to some extent people want to pathologize typical emotions because that’s just more interesting. It also provides a handy excuse for failure.

  29. Glen June 1, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    Treat kids like babies their entire lives, you end up with big babies. Big babies end up in the workplace with nobody there to coddle them or change their diapers and they become entitled victims of everyone’s righteous annoyance and anger. We are in trouble folks.

  30. Nicole June 1, 2015 at 7:07 pm #

    The problem with every child being a special snowflake is that snow starts to melt at the first sign of heat.

  31. olympia June 1, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

    Havva- Get this- I was once in a session with a fricking psychiatrist when she had to interrupt me to take a call from her 14-year-old, who could not figure out what to fix for his lunch. I asked why he couldn’t just make himself a peanut butter sandwich, and she explained that due to his obsessive compulsive disorder, doing such a thing would be too arduous. I was more or less speechless. I happened to have OCD myself, but her son’s helplessness was just beyond what I could comprehend.

    Here’s the thing: learning how to deal with frustration, how to do things that are just a little bit beyond your grasp, is the most essential lesson for kids. Because it’s the thing that comes the least naturally. And I wonder if in the past, naturally or not, kids learned to work away at stuff because their parents had their hands full with other kids or other work- they just didn’t have the means to mitigate their kids’ frustration on top of all the other stuff they had to do. Now, apparently, they do have the means. And that’s a real loss.

  32. Bob Davis June 1, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

    Two items: Back when I went to college (and Eisenhower was President), I didn’t feel like I was really “away from home” until I did my first laundry at the local laundromat. And I managed to do it without ending up with pink socks or skivvies. Side note: one of the other people tending to laundry chores was the Colonel in charge of our ROTC program. He was in civilian clothes and didn’t look quite as impressive without the “birds” on his shoulders.

    Up in the Bay Area, the locomotive engineers on the Penisula commuter trains all too often have to deal with college and high school students who’ve come to the end of their ropes and figure that a train will be the solution to their overwhelming life problems.

  33. Puzzled June 1, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

    I actually do know of a mother who refused to let her son take a Rhodes Scholarship because she wouldn’t be able to get to London every weekend to do his laundry and clean his apartment.

    Glen – don’t bet on it. Instead, we’ll get regulations to ensure that the coddling continues in the workplace.

  34. Warren June 1, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

    2 examples of coddled, pampered, overparented individuals that I have had in the last week and a half.

    1. Phone call by a female asking if we were going to hire any student workers this summer. When I asked what school she was attending, she chuckled and said, “Oh no, I am calling on my son’s behalf.”. I politely told her that I only discuss potential employment with the actual person that is applying for a position. And since he could not be bothered to call or visit himself, then he is not a good fit for here, and need not apply. She was rather rude after that.

    2. My last customer tonight. I was expecting a 17 to 20 yr old man to show up, as it was his father that had called and arranged for the new tires on his son’s car. The son was 40 yrs old if he was a day.

    It is getting worse out there all the time. Some of the stories I hear from customers about parents getting involved in their kids employment are insane. LOL, one of my transport carrier clients told me of a mom calling and telling his manager that her son needs an hour for lunch, that the half hour everyone gets is not good enough.

  35. SKL June 2, 2015 at 12:09 am #

    Can’t make a sandwich? That is scary.

    When my kids aren’t in school, they are on their own for breakfast and lunch. This has been the case since they were 5 or 6. Now at 8 they can also cook a simple dinner if I tell them to. Still, they are behind where my siblings and I were at their age.

    When I was 12, I was required to cook a serious meal 3 days a week, so that I would know how. I hated cooking (still kinda hate it), and wasn’t good at it, but I have never been hungry. As I teach my kids how to cook and stuff, I plan on also teaching them how to plan a nutritious menu within a tight budget. I didn’t have to be “taught” this as my family was always on a tight budget, but my kids are used to me taking shortcuts because I can afford it. Most likely they will have lean years and need to know how to deal with that. I don’t want to ever hear “I had Doritos for dinner because they are cheaper than apples and I don’t know how to cook beans.”

  36. Heike Larson June 2, 2015 at 12:32 am #

    When you don’t like the traditional school culture and adult-directed learning, consider Montessori!

    In my children’s Montessori school, they learn life skills early on. They make work plans–and reflect on what and why they didn’t get done. Their teachers guide them as they themselves resolve the conflicts that are inevitable when inexperienced, young people interact freely. They practice communicating with each other (I’ve learned about “I-messages” from my children). They clean their classroom, take care of pets, take home and do the school laundry. They go on a three-day camping trip, no parents–at age six or seven. They choose, all day long: what task to tackle, when, with whom, how, where. They write–and re-write, and critique each other.

    I don’t know if there are any studies, but I’d bet that children who went to Montessori schools through at least middle school have much less trouble adjusting to college, as they’ve practiced planning, organization, resilience and conflict resolution every year, on an ever larger scale.

  37. Warren June 2, 2015 at 1:38 am #

    “When you don’t like the traditional school culture and adult-directed learning, consider Montessori!”

    These kids are not struggling in college because of the education system. They are struggling because of their parents. They are struggling because mom and dad never taught them the life lessons they needed.

    George Carlin, “I will be generous for the sake of making a point. Every child is SPECIAL. Therefore by extension every adult is SPECIAL. Or is there some magic time when one goes from being SPECIAL to being not so special?” Well George we just defined that point in life when you are no longer special. First day of University.

  38. JP Merzetti June 2, 2015 at 1:40 am #

    This is my line of work. I have 87,000 kids per school year that I fuss over. I make it my business to be aware of their issues and concerns. Something I’ve been researching for a dozen years.
    We live in anxious times. They reflect that.
    Many of them aren’t bothered by it a bit. Man more are. A lot.
    You see, an educated person who is actually learning how to think critically doesn’t fit so well into the fantasyland of modern propaganda.
    Why wouldn’t they be concerned about what kind of world they’re going to inherit, what kind of adult life they’re going to be able to have? (stress on the adult part.)
    The world is not at all the same as it was when I was their age.
    I’d like to think it was – but I’m not so easy to fool…….and neither are many of them.

    The toughening of an intellect requires mental discipline, sure enough. But intellect is not all we’re made of.
    It can hurt to be smart enough to know a raw deal when it looms large. Especially when it feels like the options are slim.
    It’s not just the competition. Nor is it just the debt. Or less than perfect course of study choices. Or the hard work and high performance. Or the time of life. It’s more than that.

    A young adult used to have (what now seems like a luxury)……..the time and the space to figure themselves out – outside of academic qualifiers, quantifiers and definers.
    As if the only grade that ever mattered was a test and paper score.
    As if the only thing to aspire to is the perfect puppet of elders and betters.
    As if all elders and betters always had that one thing in mind.

    It’s not bad enough that kids get fooled. That happens all the time.
    It’s worse when the elders do, too.

    Higher education was never designed to be a garden path.
    It was designed to be a useful tool in a person’s life.
    Valued, and valuable.
    Open doors, not a jail cell.
    A good beginning in life should not feel like being handed a life sentence.

    But if this is the House that Jack built – one wonders about the foundation.

  39. sexhysteria June 2, 2015 at 3:04 am #

    Maybe college students are anxious because they are sexually “inhibited.” Two separate surveys suggest that two-thirds of women today are sexually dysfunctional. That’s not due to something in the diet; it’s probably caused by the mass hysteria over child sex abuse that provokes parents to be overprotective and prohibit children’s normal and healthy sex play.

  40. Psych student June 2, 2015 at 3:23 am #

    Being unable to cope with everyday stressors IS a symptom of mental illness, for the exact reason that people indeed are supposed to be able to cope with normal life problems. If you’re not able to handle everyday life, you by definition have a problem.

    Growing up and being discouraged from trying things, never being allowed to try or fail or do or succeed, being taught to seek out others who can do things for you because you can’t do anything by yourself, being taught to never do anything unless someone powerful gives you incredibly detailed instructions and oversees your work, being taught that you’re “special” meaning that your abilities are who you ARE and not skills that are possible to learn (meaning that you can’t learn new skills and if you ever fail at anything it means you aren’t the same person anymore)… That’s not being coddled, it’s being caged. Imprisoned.

    Of course it’s hard to go to college if you’ve been basically institutionalised by your parents! It’s far easier for the students who’ve been allowed to be self-reliant, because they only have to learn the coursework. The severely helicoptered students also have to catch up on years of neglect and oppression (yep, oppression, there, I said it) besides doing their coursework, and learn all the skills, confidence and developmental experiences they’ve missed out on. The cage may be golden, but it’ll still keep you put in your place.

    Anxiety disorders really have gone up since the middle of the 20th century (mostly after the 80s if I recall correctly), it’s not overdiagnosis. The increased seeking out mental health care has lowered the suicide rate and increased the likelihood of being cured, which is great! Watch out for the trap of assuming that a problem that doesn’t seem huge to you (not knowing how to make a sandwich, for example) can’t be huge for other people. Just imagine having the problem that you literally don’t believe that you’re able to figure out how to make a sandwich – imagine feeling that stupid and demoralised! What’s it like? What does it feel like to move through life when you believe that about yourself? It must be paralysing. How much time does it take to worry about your tiniest decisions, finding people to ask for advice about the smallest things, weighing your options, not trusting your own mind…

    The disorder isn’t, of course, not knowing how to make a sandwich. The disorder isn’t even asking for help just this once. But it sure as hell, pardon my French, is a legit disorder to believe that the tiniest things in life are so important and weighty that there’s a “right” way to make a sandwich (as if all other possible sandwiches are bad), and to feel so disempowered and incompetent that you don’t trust yourself to even try.

  41. Emily June 2, 2015 at 7:55 am #

    >>Phone call by a female asking if we were going to hire any student workers this summer. When I asked what school she was attending, she chuckled and said, “Oh no, I am calling on my son’s behalf.”. I politely told her that I only discuss potential employment with the actual person that is applying for a position. And since he could not be bothered to call or visit himself, then he is not a good fit for here, and need not apply. She was rather rude after that.<<

    @Warren–How do you know that this young man asked his mother to call? For all we know, he was planning to call you himself, but his mother swooped in and did it for him. For all we know, he didn't know that his mother had intervened until she told him afterwards, about the "very rude man" on the phone ("rude" because you didn't tell her what she wanted to hear), and for all we know, he got upset with her for meddling. So, I wouldn't write off the son because of his mother.

  42. SKL June 2, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    I think part of the problem is that people have an idyllic image of what college “used to be like.” There’s nothing new about uncertainty regarding one’s future. It is what “becoming an adult” is all about. There’s nothing new about test scores etc. People used to flunk out of college. My grandfather did. Does that even happen any more? People used to be under a lot more pressure to finish in 4 years or less. Nowadays a person who finishes in 4 years is unusual. We used to have to go to the library and hope we find some books to support our research papers. Now all students have to do is type a few words and Google delivers hundreds of resources in seconds. We used to have to re-type the whole paper if we made one typo. When PCs came along, we had to sign up for a short chunk of time in the computer lab on campus. We could not email the prof at all hours to get clarification on something that needed to be turned in tomorrow. There were no web-based recruiting tools and you couldn’t email your resume to 100 prospective employers; you had to go to Kinko’s and print/type it on special resume paper, then show up in person in a suit to hand it over. And no, employment was not guaranteed. Whoever thinks there wasn’t as much for past college students to stress about either isn’t very old or doesn’t remember things very well.

  43. Crystal June 2, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    Oh dear goodness. I am currently getting my master’s in International Community Development, in the hopes that my small contributions to social justice will someday lessen poverty, hunger, the number of orphans and the like. But how on EARTH can I expect the kids a few years behind me to tackle such gigantic problems if they need counseling for every little thing? Trust me, when you hold a starving, dying orphan in your arms, there is no mental health center nearby.

  44. Emily June 2, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    Oh, and about the anecdotes about teenagers and college-and-university-aged individuals who can’t figure out how to make a sandwich, I have a very distinct memory of being in kindergarten (at a regular public school, not Montessori or Waldorf), sometime in the fall of 1989. My memories of that time are a bit fuzzy, but I know it was before Halloween. Anyway, on that fall day in 1989, we made PBJ’s, and then walked to the park, some five blocks away, for a picnic, and then played on the equipment, which has mostly been replaced with boring plastic junk since then, because it’s “dangerous” by today’s standards. This was the first field trip I ever remember taking in school. Anyway, looking back, this taught us how to prepare a simple meal and clean up afterwards, and it also taught us about traffic safety, because we had to cross several streets walking to the park and back. I don’t remember any permission forms being sent home; it was just presented as “Today, we’re making PBJ’s and going to the park for a picnic.” That activity would never fly today, because of peanut allergies (okay, fine, if there’s an allergic child in the class, they could make something else), and because of “safety” (but how else do kids learn?), and because five-year-olds can’t be expected to walk five blocks (I did). It’d probably also take up valuable “academic” time used to prepare students to take a test (then you get kids who can regurgitate correct answers on cue, but can’t feed themselves). My point is, back when I was in school, there were more efforts made to teach kids about life. The schools didn’t do it all, and parents were expected to reinforce these efforts at home as well, and they did, because the conventional wisdom back them was that, if you had kids, you should absolutely be teaching them how to tie their shoes, make a sandwich, swim, ride a bicycle, et cetera. But, it seems as if these kinds of lessons have been gradually phased out over the years, and I think they need to make a comeback, ESPECIALLY since so many parents work, and so many kids are dropped off at before-school care early in the morning, and then picked up from after-school care after their parents finish work.

  45. lollipoplover June 2, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    I don’t think college level anxiety is anything new. I remember calling my mom late night on the pay phone in the hallway of our dorm, complaining of my weird roommate who brought her entire stuffed animal collection (complete with suction cup Garfields all over our windows) to decorate the room and how far my dorm was from my class (get a bike, she said) and other complaints. She told me not to worry and have fun. I Iiked stuffed animals once too, she reminded me.

    Calling for every worry is easier that ever. Parents accustomed to constant texts from their children for every activity often get anxious when this high level of communication is cut off and transfer their anxiety to their kids. A worried kid is often the result of a worried parent. Colleges have always had kids drop out or who put too much pressure on themselves. These days, it’s very EXPENSIVE to make a mistake with college and the debt some of these students face would worry anybody.

    As for not having the life skills to make a sandwich-
    I know two best friends who went to college together (decades ago) and were completely unprepared for independent living. They couldn’t cook at all and hated eating out all the time. They came up with a plan to hold cooking contests and put up flyers on campus that the winner would receive a large trophy for the best entree. They spent $5 on a trophy and ate like kings with this “contest” and also got a lot of dates (one even met his wife- who won a trophy and still has it!) Both of these guys turned out to be highly successful entrepreneurs (despite having C averages) so I wouldn’t write anyone off for their lack of sandwich skills.

  46. Andy June 2, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    @Amy Yes, rapes and serious sexual attacks happen and cause great harm when they happen. However, the popular culture is telling that they happen to 20% of college age women – except that number is far from being accurate if you look at what actual studies measured. Moreover, that is more then how many women get raped in war zones. That would be a reason to call national guard if that would be good estimate of how many rapes happen on campuses.

    It is not misogynistic to point out that the rape risk at college is likely to be exaggerated in media.

    It is not misogynistic to point out that thinking you are at 20% risk of being raped is likely to raise college women anxiety. By high. I would be strongly against my daughter going to college if I would believed that number.

    Demographic of women that reports sexual attacks to cops the most is not college students. It is uneducated women of the same age. Would it be misogynistic to suggest that it might make more sense to focus more on women that are most at risk?

    The most accurate estimate of false reports of rape is that “we do not know because that is exceptionally difficult to measure and likely to vary a lot depending on local rules and customs.” How often people of any gender make false accusations about other people is not a constant, it is not feature of gender or just human nature, it is feature of the law or disciplinary system and its incentives. (To illustrate the point: In any repressive regime, people of both genders make false often deadly accusations to get back at their opponents – because regime wants and incentivize it. They drop with change to more transparent and fair justice system – rape accusations are going to be subject of similar high rates changes.)

  47. Warren June 2, 2015 at 11:39 am #


    The only acceptable reason for a mom or dad to be just a little involved in the hiring process, is when they are trying to get their kids jobs where they work. Because the parents reputation is somewhat on the line should their kid be hired.

    I don’t care if he asked his mom, she did it on her own, or the voices in her head told her to call. There is not a valid reason for her to make contact with me about her son’s possible employment. Her calling is a major red flag and cannot be ignored. I do not expect student employees to be the same as full time. But I am hiring a worker, not their family.

    Emily, before having our own shop, I was in supervisory and managerial roles. I have had moms call in sick or late for their kid. That kid gets written up. It is their job not their mom’s job. They work for us, not their mom. Unless it is severe, as in hospital illness/injury, there is no excuse. The second time mom calls in for the same kid, mom got told, “He has ten minutes to call me himself, or he will be laid off for good.”. You see as the employer we do not have to accept second party illness or injury call ins.

    Any place I have worked, there is no hand holding. You are put in your position, given the training, given the workers responsible for training, given coworkers willing to help, and that’s it. At the end of every week the people around the new hire are asked for opinions. I have seen people let go in just a couple of days, some a couple of months and some make it through probation. 9/10 it is work ethic that causes their termination.

  48. Havva June 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    I am not writing anyone off for lack of sandwich making skills. I am well aware that there have always been students who made it to adulthood without various necessary adult skills, and worked it out. The classic example being laundry troubles. Happened at my college. But the parents of those students laughed the incidents off as the ‘oops’ learning experiences they were, even when a boy bleached his whole wardrobe.

    What I was trying to get at is exactly as @Psych student, said: “The disorder isn’t, of course, not knowing how to make a sandwich. The disorder isn’t even asking for help just this once. But it sure as hell, pardon my French, is a legit disorder to believe that the tiniest things in life are so important and weighty that there’s a “right” way to make a sandwich (as if all other possible sandwiches are bad), and to feel so disempowered and incompetent that you don’t trust yourself to even try.”

    I think that disorder was more on the mom than the girl too. Girl called to ask about bread, mom chose to take that to mean that the girl was 100% incompetent in the sandwich arena, and chose to curtail the rest of the learning experience. Given the context of a basically sane childhood you could look at the sandwich story and say, haha well at least she is tying, she’ll learn. Except I’m not convinced she was learning. The message wasn’t “calm down, you can do this” nor was it “Wow, I never taught you this! Okay, time to learn.” The message was very clearly, exactly what the mom said to the rest of us when she hung up. “She can’t do anything herself!”

    Frankly I’m not sure I would have attempted that sandwich after the over loaded, over burdened, explanation the mom gave. I didn’t feel I could make a sandwich to her satisfaction after that. The girl may or may not stop asking mom, and get over all this in 5-10 years. But mom has planted in her brain the idea that she is not simply inexperienced, but incompetent. How does a mother believe that about a neuro-typical high school student?

    Except apparently lots do because the other parents of nuro-typical high school students chimed in with similar beliefs about the incompetence of their children to face basic life tasks. They shared that they too provide similar levels of intervention, on the same belief of incompetence. And that, not wanting or needing help making a sandwich, is the stunning part.

    The parents of the autistic boy didn’t think that about him. I don’t think that about my 4 year old. Why should anyone believe our children are inherently more competent than nuro-typical students on the brink of adulthood? Why would their parents believe that? And how could that projection from their parents not be a factor in the anxiety disorders that these same children are being treated for?

  49. Meg June 2, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    I take exception to this as someone with anxiety-and yes, I’m a full grown adult who made it through college.

    Nothing my folks did, or didn’t do, made me anxious. It’s part of how my brain is wired, and I think posts like this are really unhelpful in the extreme.
    Kudos to any students who are seeking help in a healthy way. No one gets to judge whether your feelings are big and serious enough but you.

  50. hineata June 3, 2015 at 12:46 am #

    @Meg – I sympathise. Several generations of the males in my family, and me to an extent, have been anxious types. You just have to swallow it down sometimes and get on with it. And mostly make it through okay.

    I don’t agree, though, with the idea that no one but you gets to decide whether your feelings are big or serious. If you mean about going to talk to someone about your feelings, then sure, you should be allowed to air things to others willing to listen. But if you are meaning the idea that all pain is relative, then no. Some things are really big and serious (war, cancer, death in the family etc.). Some things just are not.

  51. hineata June 3, 2015 at 12:49 am #

    What I mean is, some feelings are justified. Some are not – they’re the result of a faulty way of looking at the world. If a counselor can help one overcome faulty thinking, then by all means go to one.

  52. Warren June 3, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    Okay let’s face once in awhile people have a “brain fart”. My kids have called with stupid questions, looking for instructions for something they know how to do and so on.

    They will call with these things, and I ask them “How old are you?”. As soon as they hear that, it is like the light bulb turning on. It is then, “Yeah yeah, thanks Dad.”, and that is the end of it.

  53. pentamom June 3, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    “I don’t care if he asked his mom, she did it on her own, or the voices in her head told her to call. There is not a valid reason for her to make contact with me about her son’s possible employment. ”

    It’s true there’s no valid reason for her to do it, but it makes a difference in whether you should hold it against the kid, if the kid had nothing to do with it. I hope you don’t really make “is able to control the actions of parents” a standard for hiring in your business. Not only would it be unfair, but you’d lose excellent employees just because their parents are stupid.

  54. olympia June 3, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    lollipoplover- Well, it sounds like those two friends knew how to get their needs met, one way or another! Tapping into people’s zest for competition. Although I have to say, much as I love to cook, it would take more than a trophy for me.

  55. Warren June 3, 2015 at 9:42 pm #


    Damn skippy it will be held against him. You cannot stand up to mom, and tell her to stay out of it, when it comes to employment, then you don’t have what it takes to work for me, or with me. This is dirty, nasty physical work, in hazardous conditions, we do not have time to hold hands.

    I have had my share of babies that don’t want to work when it is too hot, too cold, raining, snowing, too dirty, too heavy and the gambit. It is the job. You cannot man up and do it, you get kicked to the curb. Always been that way in our industry.

  56. Rina Lederman June 3, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

    Well i’m already taking classes in community college and i’m only twelve and I take my own water bottles. I even walk to the bathroom all by my self “gasp”.

  57. pentamom June 3, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

    Warren, why on earth do you assume that the person “can’t stand up to mom?” Maybe the person stood up perfectly well, and she did it anyway. Really, insisting on the ability to restrain another adult’s behavior without knowing anything about the situation is a ridiculous standard for employment.

  58. ebohlman June 3, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

    sigh: When you talk about talented athletes getting full rides and then not being able to cope with college, there’s probably a “big fish in a small pond” effect going on. The same thing happens with very high academic achievers. In both cases, the kids are used to being way ahead of their peers in the relevant areas, but when they find themselves in college they find themselves with a new group of peers who are all at least as good as them. That can take quite a bit of adjustment, and if you’re not prepared for it it can be devastating.

    Counteracting perfectionism definitely helps here. The mentality that either you do something perfectly the first time you try, or you’ll never be able to do it, is extremely destructive. One of the reasons Chinese kids tend to outperform American kids in math is that Chinese people tend to think that math is hard in the sense that it requires a lot of work to master, whereas Americans tend to think that math is hard in the sense that it’s an inborn skill that most people aren’t born with and that if you don’t get it the first time, you never will.

  59. Mark Jh June 4, 2015 at 4:32 am #

    Most worrisome. Seriously, I have long wondered how overprotective patents expected their children to mature with adequate savvy, resilience. I imagine such parenting causes untold harm from preschool on up.
    Even if excessive coddling yielded happy children, however, and thwarted whatever supposed dangers up until 18 (?), what then? When and how will vital “life skills” develop? Does anyone imagine maturity will suddenly emerge and blossom overnight?

    That said, while Dr. Jones’ generalizations may dovetail with mine, I doubt these are soundly grounded in persuasive data.

    “[S]tudents arrive at college preloaded with stress,” yet “have had less incentive to develop life skills” Is his critique even coherent?

  60. hineata June 4, 2015 at 5:31 am #

    Darn, I do much of the talking on the telephone for El Sicko at the moment, as even we the family struggle to understand what she’s saying over the phone. Am seriously considering finding some kind of electronic device like the ones trachea patients hold to their voice boxes so she can regain some independence in this area, as it’s a darned nuisance for all concerned.

    Maybe there would be a market for preprogrammed boxes of this type for anxious college students……some kind of automatic job interview or something. Just hold it up to the phone and it does the talking for you….

  61. Zozimus June 4, 2015 at 7:45 am #

    1. Students are burdened with increasing, crushing debt ($1Trillion and mounting)
    2. When they graduate after extended schooling to compete, jobs are few and poorly paid and precarious
    3. Housing prices continue to rise out of the grasp of most
    4. They are more aware than adults about the growing environmental crisis – adults are destroying the world they will inherit, and nobody is trying very hard to save it except those who are powerless to do so
    5. They are robbed of any real choice or agency throughout their childhood and school years
    6. They can see that the political process is broken beyond salvaging, and that even if they vote it will change little
    7. They are surrounded by corruption and greed at the highest levels of society – banks are driving the economy toward another crash unhindered, and corporations have bought hegemonic power globally
    8. Schools have become vicious, competitive burdens instead of supportive places of learning
    9. The “leaders” of the world are brutal, venal, and stupid, whose only answer to any of the growing problems they create is war, war, and more war. It will not be the old or the rich who fight those wars.
    10. The culture they live in systematically deprives them of hope and dignity, with relentless propaganda about their s0-called stupidity, uselessness, childishness, greed, whiny-ness, and powerlessness.
    11. If they are poor, or black, or female, or gay, they are further attacked for their difference, to the point where they lose their freedom in the monstrous gulag of American prisons, or they lose their lives, at the point of police guns or self-harm.

    I could go on. We have created a vicious, unequal, spiteful, and greedy society for our children to live in, and we have focused much of that vitriol on them. 2/3 of adults have been polled to have “very hostile” feelings towards youth. They are abused at home at rates that would shock anyone, and those numbers are not broadly known.

    Kids see more clearly than most adults. They know the Emperor has no clothes. And it makes them anxious and upset to see the adults who are supposed to guide and protect them all pretending they can see his finery, or tell them to pretend. This is a deep, widespread problem. The world we have created, or allowed to be created, is in many ways awful, and holds nothing of value or of hope for many kids. They want and need radial change, but nobody is even talking about that as a goal. I’d feel anxious too, knowing that the adults who are steering the ship are so malicious and incompetent.

  62. Warren June 4, 2015 at 10:54 am #


    Why? Because there is a small window to hire student help. Something most places do as a service to help students, not that student summer labour is really needed anymore. With the number of people unemployed students are lucky anyone is hiring student labour.

    So considering that there is a small window to hire students, I am not gambling on anyone that raises any red flags. Why should I take a chance on someone that raises a red flag with me, over one that does not? Why would I take a chance and invest the time and money in training for someone that is already suspect to me?
    And when I don’t trust my instincts, and hire someone like this, and he does not work out, then what? I have wasted a spot that someone better could have had.

    Nope I stand by how I do things. Too damn expensive and time consuming to not trust your gut.

  63. Havva June 4, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    While it might not be ‘fair’ to hold it against a kid in other industries, please trust me and Warren on this. Nervous mothers are a liability. When I was 4 and started following tradesmen around, the first contractor I wanted to follow had a very serious talk with me and my mom. He told us that it was dangerous work, and as such if I was going to be hanging around that work I needed to give them my complete attention, I needed to follow their orders without hesitation, and to that end my mom needed to stay silent and out of the way.

    My mom could handle that. And with subsequent work, that wasn’t on her house, she left me to it on my own. Certainly when a teen is ready to get hands on experience, their mom needs to be able to pretend she doesn’t exist, beyond taking care of any relationship she has with the company.

    No workman likes or will tolerate a mama’s boy or mama’s girl. Being inexperienced and in training is dangerous enough without showing signs of weakness, and without a mom who might turn up and shout “be careful honey!” That would break everyone’s focus. That turns the person from ‘potentially valuable’ to a ‘walking liability.’

    No mechanic worth being apprenticed to will tolerate a walking liability.

  64. pentamom June 4, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    Havva, I understand that. What I mean is, if that issue does appear to come up when you actually talk to the kid, then that’s legitimate.

    But writing off a kid before you even know what his attitude is toward his mom’s meddling is, seems wrong-headed, both from a fairness standpoint AND from a “might miss out on a great employee” standpoint.

    What if this kid was a clone of Warren himself, who would tell Warren, if given the chance, that he thinks his mom is crazy, and he’s really sorry that she bothered Warren after he told her that he was going to handle it himself, but he doesn’t personally worry about her kind of crazy? You’d actually be missing out on the kid who was the polar opposite of one who let the worrying mom dictate what kind of employee he was going to be. You’d be counting out a kid who knew how stand up to someone who didn’t like to be stood up to, just because you’re holding him to the standard of controlling another adult over whom he has no practical authority. That seems like a bad business decision, forget fairness.

  65. pentamom June 4, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    Warren, that’s a fair response — you don’t have a lot of time and you need ways to sort out the bad apples. And you’re right, the chances are that someone with that background could be a problem.

    I guess I was assuming you weren’t so pressed to make your decisions quickly and sort things out so fast. Given more time, I’d hope you’d consider the possibility that such a person might not be the product of his mom’s kind of crazy at least long enough to verify it — there are plenty of people in that position, and many of them would make darn good employees. I’m not just thinking of what’s fair to him here, but also about not discounting someone who could turn out to be a great employee for reasons that really have nothing to do with the person himself.

  66. Betty tuininga June 7, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    I returned to college as a nontraditonal, disabled student after my children had left home. I was penniless at the end of my rope, but intelligent. My anxiety level was very high. The very thought of competing with these young minds at mid age was frightening.

    I completed four years in three, attending classes year round six classes a semester I graduated Magna with a 3.8 average. What got me through the rough patches? Meditation! I would meditiate before exams…presentations…those tough trials and would come through it relaxed and sure footed. A little common sense can help a lot, but the younger generation is not taught the alternatives to stress…there definitely are advantages in attacking life and college courses at age 50!

    I even went on on to graduated school which while working on my thesis came to a screeching halt because of a serious accident. But all things happen for a reason…acceptance is a virtue!

  67. ck June 10, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Something not mentioned is that an abundance of choice causes anxiety as well. I think the pressure of our “you can be anything” culture is equally to blame for the uptick of anxiety as our culture’s toxic coddling is.

    As you can see, not all causes of anxiety are bad, and in fact, not all anxiety is irrational either. The idea that anxiety is a “bad” thing to feel; that having it makes us “irrational” and that we need to immediately seek help to “cure” it, contributes greatly to our children’s difficulty in dealing with life. Feel it, don’t fight it, and don’t worry about it. Simply feeling anxiety is not pathological.

    @ Schofield, what you said *was* misogynistic. (This doesn’t mean that you *are* a misogynist, just that your communication was unclear enough that it was open for this interpretation.) Why? You seemed to criticize the decisions of individual women as likely being irrational or false based upon a larger cultural problem of Anti-Male sexism. However, the idea that individual women are irrational creatures that cry rape as a function of being a woman *IS* a misogynistic idea. Criticize the culture, empower the individual woman. As free-range parents, or supporters of free range parenting, this is *exactly* what we want; empowered girls who make decisions based on rationality and their own interpretations of behavior, and who do not factor in meaningless data such as gender *at all*. An anti-male bias in our country shouldn’t translate into parents encouraging their sons and daughters to become Pollyannas around men. Gender means *nothing*; nothing good, nothing bad.


    You are either misinterpreting or misrepresenting the data. Yes 20% of college women have been victims of *attempted* rape. Considering that many more rapes are attempted than completed, 20% sounds reasonable. Another frequent criticism of this data is that the studies count anything that meets the legal definition of rape as rape, regardless of whether or not a woman explicitly defined her experience as rape or attempted rape. Frankly, considering that any activity that meets the legal definition of rape, is by definition rape, this seems to be a fair thing to do.

    Yes, surveys of men consistently show that only a very tiny minority of men ever attempt or complete a rape over their entire lifetime. However, surveys of *rapists* show that individual rapists will have dozens, or rarely hundreds, of victims before they get caught, *if* they ever get caught. Never confuse the rarity of rapists with the rarity of rape. Rapists are rare. Rape, unfortunately, is not.

    Which is why we need to empower women in their decision-making; so that they can protect themselves from rape, without resorting to throwing an entire gender under the bus.

  68. Shan June 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

    I’ve been a college professor for about 15 years, and I totally get this. Now I primarily teach graduate courses and one senior-level class, but for a while I was teaching Intro level courses, and I could not believe the number of parents I would get who would call me to talk about their special snowflake’s issues in my class. Sometimes it was as mundane as, “Muffy is going to miss the first three weeks of class because we’re taking her on a very special trip to Europe … would you please put together all her class work in advance so she can to it on the trip?” The best part about my job as opposed to high school teachers is I can actually laugh at these parents. Then I get to inform them that due to FERPA and the fact that their Precious is now an adult, legally I can’t speak to them and it’s on their child to talk to their own college professors and I get to hang up. I’ve had parents try to argue about assignments, how they feel their child is being treated in class, final grades – you name it, a parent has tried to argue it, and it all ends the same, “Sorry, I can’t talk to you about this – CLICK.”