MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new survey from Pew Research finds more than half (55%) of Americans think parents do too much for their young adult children.

So, is there a right amount? At any age? Good Question.

Whether it’s buying too many toys, letting adult children live at home, or trying to fix kids’ friendship problems, there’s a balance to be had.

“We want to help them and take the pain away,” says one mom.

“We’re trying to build them to be self-sufficient people and not become jerks,” says another dad.

Over time, some parenting experts, and many parents themselves say that balance towards “overindulgence” has been shifting towards giving children too much.

“I believe overindulgence has been there all along, but it’s not ramped up because of all those other factors,” says Ellie McCann, a family resiliency educator at the University of Minnesota Extension. “As parent educators, when we see shifts in parenting, we look at what’s happening in society.”

She said those other factors include things like increased student debt, more technology with easier access to information and more choices when it comes things like education, sports or entertainment.

“It cuts across all socioeconomic statuses,” McCann says. “Parents want their children to be happy and it comes from a good heart.”

But, sometimes those choices can have an impact on the children as they get older. McCann says she’s seen children struggle in the workplace as a team players or not be able to accomplish basic tasks like laundry in college.

“All parents overindulge to a degree,” she says. “I think it’s important to look at your parenting style. What am I doing for my children? Am I giving too much?”

To do so, she suggests asking four questions to assess whether it’s too much. It’s called the “Test of Four.”

  1.  Is it developmentally or age-appropriate?
  2.  Will it strain the family’s resources – financially or time-wise?
  3. Whose needs it is serving?
  4.  Will it create personal harm to your child or someone else?

McCann’s biggest piece of advice for parents: Always give chores to children, even if they’re made up. Not only does it teach them skills, it gives them a sense of responsibility.

“It’s never too late to assess your own parenting,” she said.

Heather Brown

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