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The Effects of Parents Micromanaging Young Adults' Decisions About College

by Kathryn Hatter, studioD

Micromanaging generally fulfills a powerful need for control. It can appear in the work place and it can appear at home, too. Helicopter parents have become a frequent issue on the college campus, trying to keep control over a young adult’s decisions regarding continuing education. If you hover, your micromanaging may have unintended effects.


When a parent steps into a college situation and grabs the reins from a young adult, the student may have difficulty conducting affairs without the help of the parent, advises the Good Therapy website. This level of supervision may leave a student unable to complete tasks alone or without guidance from the parent. Even situations such as conversations with professors or choosing a college schedule may be difficult for the student who feels dependent on micromanaging parents.

Low Self-esteem

Parents who exert high levels of control over a young adult’s college decisions and plans communicate a powerful message of mistrust and a lack of confidence in the child’s ability to handle college, advises professor Alexandra L. Barzvi, with the New York University Child Study Center. It’s common for these students to take this message to heart and develop serious issues with low self-esteem. These kids may not feel like they’re capable of acting autonomously from parents or making these grown-up decisions on their own.


Working in conjunction with the low self-esteem suffered by micromanaged kids, anxiety and even depression are common issues as well, states the Indiana University. Although a young adult may be out and trying to function independently, he may be ill-equipped for this, thanks to the over-involvement of parents. The student may experience high levels of anxiety as a result of confusion and decision-making. The anxiety may lead to depression if the young person does not find positive ways to cope with the stress.

Boomerang Kids

Once college ends and real life begins, the effects of parental micromanagement may continue to affect young adults. A college graduate may become overwhelmed or frustrated with the job-hunting experience, especially if ideal employment doesn’t appear, according to Indiana University. When plans don’t fall into place neatly, a micromanaged kid may become a boomerang kid, moving back in with Mom and Dad, where it’s safer and more comfortable.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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