Okay, first off, let me just say that I do not claim to be mother of the year. Ever. I'm just as lost as all the other parents when it comes to kids. And, naturally, when you're lost you look for help, ask for advice and try to get as much information you can in order to figure it out. So, when I was given an opportunity to receive an advance copy of How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims, I jumped at it. I thought it would give me all the answers I needed and a play-by-play to teach me how to guarantee my kids will be successful.
After reading this book, you know what I found out? There is no such thing. Hundreds of thousands of books on parenting and none of them will ever give you the instruction manual that you're looking for. There is no guarantee that our kids will grow up to be doctors or lawyers or the president of the United States. All we can do is prepare them for the world and hope for the best.
Julie's book was very insightful because it showed how kids today are not the same as when we were that age. Back when I was a kid, I was allowed to bike to the store, build a tree house and play with the other kids in the neighborhood without needing constant adult supervision. These days, I hardly see any kids outside playing and if they are, their parents are not too far from them.
When we would play back then, if we fall or get hurt we learned from it. A skinned knee from trying to jump a home-made ramp was a thing to be proud of. A lot of kids today don't even have the creative skills to think up such a thing because they're too preoccupied with their iPads or their parents are right there to tell them "No, that's too dangerous". Parents are constantly huddled over their kids whenever something goes wrong so they can fix it for them. How will our kids learn to get back on a bike when they fall or to figure out how to solve a problem on their own?
In her book, Julie talks about her experience as a Dean at Stanford and how through the years she noticed that more and more college students, most of which are legal adults, are acting more like kids who still need their parents help with every little thing. She says that she's seen students whose parents come to the campus to do their kids' laundry, dispute a grade for them and even do their homework for them! How ridiculous is that?
Julie says that "overparenting" is the problem. As parents, our kids are the most precious things in the world for us and we only want the very best for them. So, naturally we want to help them and support them in any way we can. There's the problem. If we're doing all the work, what do our kids get to do? I'm guilty of overparenting in some ways because I know from personal experience that school and grades do matter. I'm constantly checking up on my kids' homework, school projects and assignments thanks to the PowerSchool updates I get emailed to me every day. In a way its a good thing so it keeps me updated on how my kids are progressing and it allows me to help them correct it but it does also create a lot of stress and tension between my kids and I when I'm not happy with the grades I see.
On the other hand, I also like to think I'm not one of those parents because I do spend quality time with my kids. I know what their interests are and I help and support them even if it won't get them into a good school or is a lucrative career. I'd rather they be happy and satisfied with the life they made for themselves when they're adults.
For now, I'm just going to let my kids be kids. They will play outside, explore different things, get dirty, get a little hurt and learn from all of their experiences. I will teach them how to wash the dishes, do laundry, find their way if the get lost, produce quality work, understand the value of money and good work ethic, talk to people with confidence and solve their problems on their own.
So, you want to get your hands on a copy of How to Raise an Adult? Win a free copy by commenting below and tell me: What life skills are you teaching (or plan on teaching) your kids to prepare them for adulthood?