Hail to mothers; but please let go

It is impossible not to empathize with parents who, rationally or not, worry about the physical safety or comfort of their child. More dubious are parents’ attempts to shield their offspring from failure or the academic challenges that higher education, if it’s doing its job, presents to its young clients.

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Columnists

May 6, 2022 - 3:08 PM

Student Reilly Lepak of Amherst attends Holyoke Community College. Most students thrive away at college, though many parents don't want to admit it. (Don Treeger / The Republican) 5/5/2022

Can I get something on the record? I love moms. I really love moms. A caring mother provides the best chance, sometimes the only chance, a young person has of turning into a responsible, self-reliant, high-character adult. No mission is nobler.

However. Ahem. Even moms are subject to that fundamental caveat of life: “up to a point.” Working daily with and on behalf of tens of thousands of other people’s children, as I do as the president of Purdue University, one encounters mothers who, let’s just say, carry things a little far.

Like the one who insisted, without ever providing any documentation, that her child was allergic to all nonorganic food. She ordered food multiple times a week, accompanied by specially selected spices, and had it delivered to our dining courts with a demand that the staff cook it separately for him, to her specs. (They did, for a year, until the demands, or maybe the “allergies,” ceased.)

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