College Admissions Scandal - 
An Opportunity For Parents to Self Reflect
By: Nikki P. Woods
The college admissions cheating scandal, otherwise known as 'Operation Varsity Blues,' has brought to light many deep seeded issues in regards to parenting this next generation of children. 

The fact that parents are willing to break the law, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and risk losing everything, to have their children attend a  top-tier university, is as concerning as it gets. 

Many professionals have spoken out about the pressures that are being placed on our children; the expectation that they must get perfect grades, earn high SAT scores and involve themselves in every activity in order to get an Ivy League education and secure their future. 

What resonates with me however, is the 'why' behind these parents' actions. Yes, of course we as parents want our children to always have access to the best of everything. It is our purpose in life to provide for them an existence that propels them further so that they live a life of fulfillment. 

But when we are willing to risk it all in order to do so, it brings to the surface some deeper seeded issues. And although you may not be breaking the law to get your child into college, this occurrence has provided us all an opportunity to stop and think about our own ways of parenting

Take for instance one of the young women whose mother was indicted for donating half a million dollars to ensure her admission to an elite university. This young girl had made very public statements about not even wanting to go to college and believing that it was not the right fit for her and her ultimate goals. 

However, her parents worked endlessly to solidify a spot for her at one of the most highly prestigious and competitive colleges in the world. Were the daughter's wants and needs really being taken into account? Or did these actions say more about the parents and their own unresolved issues? In needing so badly to be the parent of a USC graduate, these parents ultimately ended up ruining both their lives and the lives of their children. 

The truth of the matter is that as parents, we must always be conscious of our intentions when we do or say things that pertain to our children. It's what I term the 'mirror image®;' where we place too much of ourselves and our own experiences into the lives of our children. In doing so, we ultimately think and behave in a way that does not always have our children's best interest at heart. Instead, we are looking to satisfy our own unresolved inner turmoil.

This college admissions scandal should elicit some self reflection for all of us parents. No, most of us would not put ourselves or our children at risk like this. But is there a possibility that we have pushed our children in a direction because it ultimately satisfies our own needs more then that of our kids? I'm sure on some level, we are all guilty of that. 

What slight new bit of knowledge and awareness can we take away from this occurrence? We as parents can learn to be conscious of our intentions - of the 'whys' behind our behavior. Starting even with younger children as we push them into liking certain sports that we played in hopes that they will follow in our footsteps, or as they grow and develop, and we attempt to manipulate their career decisions to something that we feel would be most appropriate for them.

It's our job as parents to ultimately make decisions that benefit our children, but its most important to make sure that we take into account who our children are - their capabilities, interests, wants and needs. Only then can we truly make a decision that has their "best interest" at heart. 



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Nikki P. Woods
Psychotherapist 
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