I recently read Julie Lythcott-Haim's book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.
In the book, Lythcott-Haims sites extensive research, conversations educators, employers, and university faculty. She shares her own experiences as a parent. In addition, she tells story after story from her time as Dean of Freshman at Stanford University to exemplify the ways in which overparenting is affecting both students, parents, and the culture we live in.
As a mother herself, she empathizes with the multitude of symptoms that lead a parent "overhelp." However, instead of encouraging parents to follow the tide of our culture and falling into the "overparenting trap," she offers practical advice that underscores the importance of allowing children to fail. She shares her advice to help children develop the resilience, grit, and perseverance that is so critical for success in the 21st century.
How to Raise an adult is a an excellent read for parents or parents-to-be of any age. The book provides valuable insights into the cultural trend of "helicopter parenting" and just how harmful it is to not only our children and students, but ourselves. I highly recommend it.
Below are three of the books most salient quotes:
“When children aren’t given the space to struggle through things on their own, they don’t learn to problem solve very well. They don’t learn to be confident in their own abilities, and it can affect their self-esteem. The other problem with never having to struggle is that you never experience failure and can develop an overwhelming fear of failure and of disappointing others."
“Taking the long view, we need to teach our kids street smarts, like the importance of walking with a friend instead of alone, and how to discern bad strangers from the overwhelming majority of good ones. If we prevent our children from learning how to navigate the world beyond our front yard, it will only come back to haunt them later on when they feel frightened, bewildered, lost, or confused out on the streets.”
“Our intentions are sound—more than sound: We love our kids fiercely and want only the very best for them. Yet, having succumbed to a combination of safety fears, a college admissions arms race, and perhaps our own needy ego, our sense of what is “best” for our kids is completely out of whack. We don’t want our kids to bonk their head or have hurt feelings, but we’re willing to take real chances with their mental health?”