In her ground breaking book subtitled “Break free of the over parenting trap and prepare your kid for success” Julie Lythcott-Haims writes clearly from an informed perspective. She is a recent Dean of Freshman at Stanford University and a parent of two growing teenagers.
She traces the change in the way parenting has evolved from the days before the baby boomers to present day. What began as a desire to keep your child safe in the early 80’s to play dates to supervised sports to present day practices in all areas where parents do everything possible for their kids to insure success it is easy to see how we have gotten to this place at this point in time.
She remarks that in the last couple of decades there are many more parents on campus at universities – including Stanford – than ever before. Instead of raising kids to be self-sufficient parents are increasingly making sure the kids are ok by being with them every step of the way.
And the instantaneously available information – thanks to the smart phone – makes it possible.
What to do then?
We haven’t finished reading the book yet but we can tell you one of the parts that resonated with us was this quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “There are two things children should get from their parents: roots and wings.”
We need to give them basic life skills and then let them figure it out. Pretty simple yet challenging to do when most around you are doing everything for theirs. And we are led to believe that the college (yup, even the high school, middle school and kindergarten) our kids get into will make or break their future success. This of course is promoted in all sorts of ways, some subtle and some not so subtle, by those very schools. It is a business model folks.
Oh, there is plenty of over coaching as well from well- meaning coaches in all sports. We see it on pool decks wherever we go racing. Roots and wings; gotta remember that.