By loading kids with high expectations and micromanaging their lives at every turn, parents aren’t actually helping. At least, that’s how Julie Lythcott-Haims sees it. With passion and wry humor, the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford makes the case for parents to stop defining their children’s success via grades and test scores. Instead, she says, they should focus on providing the oldest idea of all: unconditional love.
Here is an excerpt from the video…It’s definitely worth watching.
….But if you look at what we’ve done, if you have the courage to really look at it, you’ll see that not only do our kids think their worth comes from grades and scores, but that when we live right up inside their precious developing minds all the time, like our very own version of the movie “Being John Malkovich,” we send our children the message: “Hey kid, I don’t think you can actually achieve any of this without me.” And so with our overhelp, our overprotection and overdirection and hand-holding, we deprive our kids of the chance to build self-efficacy, which is a really fundamental tenet of the human psyche, far more important than that self-esteem they get every time we applaud. Self-efficacy is built when one sees that one’s own actions lead to outcomes, not… There you go. Not one’s parents’ actions on one’s behalf, but when one’s own actions lead to outcomes.
So simply put, if our children are to develop self-efficacy, and they must, then they have to do a whole lot more of the thinking, planning, deciding, doing, hoping, coping, trial and error, dreaming and experiencing of life for themselves. Now, am I saying every kid is hard-working and motivated and doesn’t need a parent’s involvement or interest in their lives, and we should just back off and let go? Hell no…..
Julie Lythcott-Haims is the author of the New York Times best-selling book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. The book emerged from her decade as Stanford University’s Dean of Freshmen. She speaks and writes on the phenomenon of helicopter parenting and the dangers of a checklisted childhood.
4 thoughts on “How To Raise Successful Children without Over-parenting”
I always remind myself that we as parents do not own these children. They are gifts from God. They belong to God. We are only custodians to teach them and show them what we believe is right. We have experienced a bit of life to be able to guide them in their journey in life.
They will have their own experiences in life but it is what we have taught them that will echo in their minds as they go along. The Word says that we should train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. God also will teach them so that great will be their peace.
As they become young adults and believe that they know what is right and what is wrong, we can always call on their creator to give us the right words to say to them and to let us know when to say them.
This doesn’t mean that we are afraid to talk to them but, once we remember that we don’t own them, that they belong to God, then we will always say the right words that will lead them aright.
I agree with Nana. Every child has one gift or the other. Every child has his destiny to fulfil. We should not enforce our desired career/profession on them.
We as parents can point out their gift and encourage them to be the best in whatever career they choose.
We serve an excellent God and therefore we can encourage them to seek excellence in all they do. Even when they short fall of expectation, it is not the end of the world. God who owns them knew about it before it happened . So, we must encourage them even though we are disappointed ànd they know it.
Finally, as we pray for our children, and teach them the ways of God and the values of life, and encourage them to work hard, God will crown our efforts with success and cause our children to excel and be successful.
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Well said Ayo. We are custodians and one of the things we should do is bring out the best in our children.
I for one believe that children live out their fullest potential when parents are able to love and develop them at what they do best. As diverse as the world is, African parents for one must do away with career stereotypes where children are forced into certain careers all because they appear prestigious or that their parents secretly wished they had been in those professions.
Over-protecting never gets the desired results; rather it churns out individuals who know nothing about the real world and are heavily dependent on their parents.
Parents in my view point should remember that children will one day become adults and eventually parents and they ought to be brought up and guided in that light.
My advice to parents would be to define the value system for the family and instill them in their children. The effectiveness of this is strongly influenced by how well parents live exemplary lives as Children will more often than not, replicate what parents do as against what they say. And also mistakes are a normal phenomenon and parents must be welcoming of them. The beauty about them is that they serve as learning tools which result in making one better.
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Thanks Nana, it’s amazing what love and acceptance can do especially when it comes from a parent.
While there is a natural tendency for parents to want to give their children a “soft landing”, it is important that we do what will help them become productive adults and this often means resisting the urge to micro manage and over-protect.