Hi. Remember me? The crazy overparenting self proclaimed Magazine Mom who tells you all way too much about life. Well….I’m baack!
Because I live in an affluent, helicopter parent, scholarly town, it is no wonder I am an overparent-er (new comers feel free to look back at some past blog posts to understand my craziness to its fullest).
I really try not to care about the fact that my daughter writes her 3’s backwards more often than not, or that she scored a “2” in the ‘fine-motor skills category’ on her report card, but I do. Why is that? She is only 6 years old!
Well, Julie Lythcott-Haims, the New York Times best selling author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” says it is a trap that many of us fall into. Are we keeping up the Jones’s and creating ‘stepford’ children in the process?
What happened to the days of playing outside until dinner with no parent supervision and kids ‘actually’ doing their own homework?
I had the pleasure to hear her lecture this evening, because we live in an overparenting community that brings in brilliant parenting speakers for us overparenting parents. My mom is always telling me that she never read a parenting book, let alone attend parenting lectures like I do at least 7 times a school year because I am contractually obligated to do so being a part of a cooperative preschool. Confession: I will still likely attend parenting lecturers even once I am not obliged to do so because that is just who I am.
Now, I am no book reviewer ( I would have to read to do that), so I will just tell you all to go out and read her book if you are interested. I will, however, give you my take away bullet points.
~She believes in humans
~Have the courage to be who you actually are (and allow your children to do the same)
~The overparenting trend started in the late 90s and she fears for the children of these parents.
~Stop creating a ‘check-listed childhood’ – praising everything, carefully handling your child, orchestrating their lives and activities, etc.
~Foster self efficacy – “I do therefore I am”
~Don’t join the overparenting herd, instead create a community with like-minded people, neighbors, friends, etc, and vow to stop following.
~ Allow for ‘free play’ with no parents – like we all used to do.
~Children need to develop a true sense of purpose and they cannot if we do everything for them.
Stop cutting your 10 year-old’s meat for crying out-loud!
~Read “The Gift of Failure”
~Trust the authorities in your child’s life (teachers, principles, coaches, etc.)
~Insist that children do their own work! Put the glue gun down! Confession: this one will be hard for me.
~Have your children do chores. Lots of them. It is a measure of success later in life.
~ Stop thinking your child is a perfectly shaped bonsai tree that you have to constantly prune and shape. Instead think of them as the wildflowers of unknown genes and species that they are.
Heather Havrilesky summed it up nicely in her book review for the New York Times,
Although loosening that grip on getting kids into the “perfect” school does seem important, it’s somewhat unlikely to end the current plague of controlling, stressed-out parents and helpless, insecure children. In this anxious age, the future will always trump the present. But even if “How to Raise an Adult” gets thrown onto a growing pile of books for worried, upper-middle-class parents and is summarily forgotten, Lythcott-Haims’s central message remains worthwhile: When parents laugh and enjoy the moment but also teach the satisfaction of hard work, when they listen closely but also give their children space to become who they are, they wind up with kids who know how to work hard, solve problems and savor the moment, too. In other words, get a life, and your child just might do the same someday.
I admit, I am in the front row of the herd. It is hard not to be. Those damn Jones’s! I would like to meet them and their children.
Anyone willing to break free of the herd and join me? If nothing else, have a drink with me to lessen the anxiety of constantly thinking I am doing what’s right for my children but really causing them deep psychological trauma.
You with me?