Okay. Deep breath.
I am a helicopter parent.
Always have been.
You know. The mom who hovers around her kids, trying to insure that everything goes well. Running interference to guarantee my kids’ safety and happiness.
I’m getting better, I think. (Or am I? Is that a thing helicopter parents say?)
And in my journey toward healthy momming (I know. No pressure. My kids are almost grown.), I’ve found some great tools to help me along.
Julie Lythcott-Haims’ new book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success is a boon. Fabulous tool for all parents- not just us helicopters. Her unique perspective as a long-time dean of students at Stanford University has helped her to track how ill-equipped high school graduates have become in tackling life, let alone college.
I love that she isn’t judgy or preachy. She actually gives historical context for how my generation of parents got this way.
And, of course, the crux of the matter- how do we change?
She breaks down our over parenting into four main categories:
- Providing opportunities
- Smoothing all the rough spots, and
- Getting them into the best college
One of the mindsets that rings true throughout the book is encouraging a growth mindset. The idea that failure is a stepping stone. That struggle is normal. That life is hard. BUT, we can do hard.
I haven’t overhauled my parenting techniques as a result of this book. But, my perspective has been shifted a bit. It has helped me change my tone. I have changed some little decisions.
I am remembering to slow down my knee-jerk, protective mom reactions. I’m learning to be thankful for the hard things my kids experience.
I do my best to listen and support and pray through those inevitable hard things. But, I know shielding them doesn’t necessarily help them.
Ms. Lythcott-Haims highlights the following list that was composed by the authors of GIST: The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids, Michael Anderson and Tim Johansen. It’s a tough list for kids and adults, but I’m shifting my attitude to welcome these types of situations as rites of passage and tools of growth for my kids.
- Not being invited to a birthday party
- Experiencing the death of a pet
- Breaking a valuable vase
- Working hard on a paper and still getting a poor grade
- Having a car break down away from home
- Seeing the tree he planted die
- Being told that a class or camp is full
- Getting detention
- Missing a show because she was helping Grandma
- Having a fender bender
- Being blamed for something he didn’t do
- Having an event canceled because someone else misbehaved
- Being fired from a job
- Not making the varsity team
- Coming in last at something
- Being hit by another kid
- Rejecting something he has been taught
- Deeply regretting saying something she can’t take back
- Not being invited when friends are going out
- Being picked last for neighborhood kickball
Yeah, that stuff is hard to stomach. But, it honestly helps me to remember that hard stuff is good for them. May they thrive on hard stuff! May it give them something to push against and build their emotional and spiritual muscle.
This week my daughter was frustrated about something, but I remembered the author’s exhortation to allow my kids to figure out their own way of coping with disappointment so when they get to college and experience hard things they won’t need mom to help them through it. So, I intentionally let her struggle. It was hard, but I kept thinking, “This is for college!”
Parenting is hard. But we can do hard! And I’m thankful for tools like How to Raise an Adult to navigate it with purpose and hope.