parent problem #2: codependence

my son, ryan (a high school teacher/coach), recently sent me a link to a piece written by ron clark entitled “what teachers really want to tell parents” (you can read it here).  beyond compelling, it brought back a lot of memories from my youth ministry days.  my wife and i dealt with a lot of myopic parents down through the years–well-intentioned people who couldn’t see how badly they were messing up their kids.

i decided to the next few posts and share a single point from clark’s article, along with some insightful commentary of my own.

if you are one of those parents who suffer from blind spots where your children are concerned, you will probably get very mad at me.

if you are a youth pastor, you will probably applaud.

here is clark’s second contention…

2. Please quit with all the excuses

The truth is, a lot of times it’s the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Ron Clark

And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn’t started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.

His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they’d been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn’t help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some “fun time” during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn’t his fault the work wasn’t complete.

Can you feel my pain?

Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don’t want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren’t succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.

so the obvious question is, why do parents make excuses for their kids?

do we think we are helping them when we rescue them?  is it conceivable that we might be damaging their prospects for the future?  shouldn’t we be teaching them–intentionally, aggressively teaching them–to take responsibility in their lives?

the statistics are telling.

more and more adult children are living at home.  according to harris interactive, 40% of american adults aged 18 – 39 either live at home or have done so in the recent past (is there actually a 39-year old adult living at home somewhere?).  the same survey finds that adult children are having a financial impact on their parents, which is no surprise. what’s scary is that 26% of the parents with adult children living at home have taken on debt to support their kids, and 7% have delayed retirement. (

today, 18-to-34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to-17-year-old boys.  while women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. (

parents, you may not care about the future of our society, but i’m pretty sure you care about your kids.  you are not doing them any favors when you refuse to teach them responsibility.

your children do not need more “fun time”…they need to grow up.





2 thoughts on “parent problem #2: codependence

  1. I enjoyed this post. If I had my way there would be no summer vacation altogether. We are the only industrialized country in world that does whole summer vacation thing. If there was no summer vacation parents couldn’t use the excuse of “summer fun time” as the reason why their kids could not get the reading done.


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