November 5, 2015

Several books, and numerous articles, have recently been published about this epidemic referred to as “over-parenting.” One of these books is The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey, who recently spoke at a Parents Council of Washington event. NPR hosted an interview with her and Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/08/28/434350484/how-schools-are-handling-an-overparenting-crisis) which confirmed what we all already know, but do not necessary do. Isn’t that so often the case with everything?

There is a very fine line between supporting and over-parenting. Each child is different, and each situation is different. When a psychologist suggested that I push my very timid, risk-averse, and anxious young son to play soccer, I was appalled. Knowing my child, he would have hated every minute of it – and he did. On the other hand, there were other areas where I did push…although I prefer the word encourage. Even though he did not sing with his class on stage, I made it clear that I expected him to at least stand on the stage.

Fast-forward about 6 years to 7th grade. As my son gathered his school belongings from the car at his morning drop off, he exclaimed, “Oh no! I forgot my laptop at home!” Oh well, my dear son – too bad. Don’t get me wrong, we support him in so many ways, but in order to learn from mistakes, he has to be allowed to make them. Every fiber of my being longed to rush home and get his laptop for him. Taking a moment to realistically consider “the worst that could happen” without his laptop, I reassured myself that while he might face some consequences at school, this was an opportunity for him to design a strategy to help him remember his school effects each morning.

Lahey and Lythcott-Haims remind us that making our children happy in every moment does not prepare them well for happiness in life. As a parent, my job is to keep my children protected and safe – but it is also to guide their growth into responsible, independent adults – successful adults that have the strategies to overcome challenges and navigate obstacles

Harbor School