I recently heard a story about a college student who was upset that his professor didn’t give him the grade he felt he deserved. Instead of handling the situation himself, the student called his mother on the phone in front of the entire classroom and complained to her. Believe it or not, his mom said, “Put your professor on the phone, so I can talk to him.”

Fortunately, the professor had clear boundaries. When the young man marched to the front of the room and handed him the phone, the professor refused to take the call. He told the student, “This isn’t high school. I have no intention of discussing your grade with your mother.”

I’ve raised two boys, so I empathize with every parent who is struggling to draw clear boundaries. When your children are first born, you do everything for them. But as they grow older, your day-to-day role in their lives should decrease. What’s important is to offer loving support while not doing for your children what they can do for themselves. Ideally, by the time they strike out on their own, both you and your children will be clear about where your responsibility ends and theirs begins.

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