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47 - How To Raise An Adult

posted May 26, 2016, 7:36 AM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 47

May 25, 2016

How To Raise An Adult

 

The other book that I want to cover this school year is How To Raise An Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims   It is divided into four parts: the present situation, the effects of over-parenting, an alternative to over-parenting, and “daring to be different.”    This is a wonderful book addressing the issue of over-parenting (“helicopter parents”).  It is well written with lots of examples and research (and very little (if any) “psycho-babble”).  As a parent herself Ms. Lythcott-Haims is well aware of the pressures of raising children in this day and age.  She includes lots of personal experiences and observations and does so as one who has realized that she and her husband may have made some mistakes along the way.  As the former Dean of Freshman at a one of the nation’s leading universities (Stanford), she has a wealth of experience with those who over-parent and their children.


Chapters 1 - 5:  What We’re Doing Now


Ms. Lythcott-Haims opens her book noting that parents naturally want to keep their children safe as well as grow up to be successful.  While this in itself is good, things may have gone too far.  Just as a house that is too clean may actually contribute to childhood allergies and asthma http://www.webmd.com/allergies/news/20140606/too-clean-homes-may-encourage-child-allergies-asthma-study so too may over-parenting hinder the emotional development children.  She notes that parents are trying to raise adults so they should act accordingly.  Too often parents are doing too much for their children for far too long.  (This is not to be taken as an excuse to give children tasks, freedoms, or responsibilities earlier than would be appropriate.)  


Ms. Lythcott-Haims goes on to assert that our contemporary definition of success is defined far too narrowly.  This also has led parents to unintentionally harming their children.    It plays out in things such as the pressure children feel to get into “the right college” and overly competitive youth athletics. 


Chapters 6 - 11: Why We Must Stop Over-parenting


In chapters 6 through 11 Ms. Lythcott-Haims lays out her reasons why parents should avoid the over-parenting trap. 

6.   Kids need basic life skills and over-parenting is hindering them learning such.  If parents are doing it for them, they aren’t learning to do it them self and isn’t that what a parent wants in the end?  (This is not to be taken as an excuse to put too much on a child too soon.  The book comes from the point of view that parents are too often doing too much for their children for too long.)

7.   It hurts their psychological development.  The knowledge that one can do certain (age-appropriate) things for them self is a great source of self-confidence.    

8.   It fuels the overuse of attention medications like Ritalin and Adderall. 

9.   In the end it hurts their job prospects.  Nobody wants to hire the applicant that literally or figuratively tries to bring their mom or dad to the interview.    

10.                Over-parenting ends up stressing out the parents and hindering healthy marriages.   

11.                The push to get into a top college fails to recognize that there are LOTS of good colleges and “the college admission process is broken.”  (And many parents are highly competitive about the college their child gets into.)

Chapters 12 - 20: Another Way


Ms. Lythcott-Haims  encourages parents to avoid falling into the over-parenting trap.  She specifically suggests:

12.                There are other ways to parent than just over-parenting. 

13.                Children should have unstructured time.  (They don’t need every moment of their day scheduled.)

14.                Teach life skills.  Parent with an eye towards their eventual independence. 

15.                Teach them to work hard.

16.                Prepare them for hard work.

17.                Let them chart their own path. 

18.                Normalize struggle.

19.                Have a wider mindset about college.

20.                Listen to them.

Chapters 21 - 22: Daring To Parent Differently


The book concludes with two chapters on parenting “differently” in the modern age.

21.                Reclaim your self

22.                Be the parent you want to be

 

I hope that interested parents will consider reading the entire book for themselves.  This quick summary gives a nice overview, but of course can’t provide the depth of the full book.  For some information on the web regarding the issue of over-parenting and its effect on children, please look at:

·         http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/08/28/434350484/how-schools-are-handling-an-overparenting-crisis

·         http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/08/28/434350484/how-schools-are-handling-an-overparenting-crisis

·         http://people.howstuffworks.com/5-signs-of-overparenting.htm

·         https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201204/the-abuse-overparenting

·         http://www.huffingtonpost.com/abilash-gopal-md/helicopter-parenting-has-_b_9657534.html

Have a great summer!


Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School
muhad@hcss.org


P.S.  Those that want to visit Ms. Lythcott-Haims web page may find it at: http://www.howtoraiseanadult.com/ 

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