Ask Mary Jo: Over-involved parents; Makeup-free first date

Hi Mary Jo,

I am a high school teacher, and I want to know how I deal with parents who are so involved with their child’s education that they’re hindering their child’s ability to grow by making mistakes?



Parental involvement is important, but when parents prevent their child from making mistakes and learning natural consequences, they limit their child academically and socially. One way to cope with parents who are over-involved with their child’s education is to gently remind them the ways their parenting style may be hurting their child.  Most parents want to do what’s best for their child, and when they see how their behavior hinders their child’s long-term success, they can begin loosening control. Here’s some effects of over-involved parents:

  • Increased difficulty making decisions and solving problems professionally and personally. Your job as a parent is to allow your child to learn from their mistakes and suffer the consequences that accompany bad choices. You want your child to be an independent thinker and succeed when you aren’t there.
  • Lower self-esteem and confidence. When you don’t allow children to make mistakes, you tell your child you don’t trust them to be capable of making decisions.
  • Increased anxiety and depression at college. If your child has always had you to solve their problems and cater to their needs free from accountability, they are fragile when you aren’t there to protect them.
  • Lower frustration tolerance and immature coping skills. If you’ve never had to figure out a solution on your own or you’ve never been allowed to fail, you don’t know how to cope with mistakes and shortcomings. In life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Learning to cope with the times you lose is as important as learning what to do when you win. 
  • Increased entitlement. The child begins believing it’s a “right” for them to not fail. Thinking they are more special, they become immature when things don’t go their way.

At the end of the day, you can’t control the way your students are parented, but you can design your classroom to be one of encouragement. Trying something new and embracing mistakes can be built into the learning process. Students remember teachers who believed in them, encouraged them, and weren’t afraid of making mistakes.

Hi Mary Jo,

Is it okay to not wear make up on a first date? Because a lot of people love to go all out to wow their date.  



It’s difficult to avoid comparing yourself to others, especially on social media, but with dating the gold standard is to stay true to what you’re comfortable with. Put as much effort into your appearance as you want before you meet your date.  If you don’t normally wear make-up, going on a first date wearing it will make you more self-conscious and perhaps uncomfortable. Research shows the most important qualities of a first date are good conversation, shared interests, and being curious about your date.