Because I am so guilty of everything the book implies I’m guilty of, I’m hoping typing the passages here would commit to memory what I need to practice more.
This is one of the gems I picked up from the Big Bad Wolf book sale and I am rushing to finish it because I want to pass it on to my sister who desperately needs to read it as much as I do. If I could find this in Fully Booked, I’d grab a copy for her.
Okay, so here it goes: quotations liberally lifted to drum into my head, pour into my being. I need to live this not just read this. Imbibe the ideas not just underline them. Apply the concepts, not just highlight the words. From Jessica Lahey’s The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go so Their Children Can Succeed:
“I have inadvertently extended my children’s dependence in order to appropriate their successes as evidence and validation of my parenting. Every time I pack my child’s lunch for him or drive his forgotten homework to school, I am rewarded with tangible proof of my conscientious mothering. I love, therefore I provide. I provide, therefore I love. While I know, somewhere in the back of my mind, that my children really should be doing these kinds of tasks for themselves, it makes me feel good to give them these small displays of my deep, unconditional love. . . . My kids will have their entire lives to pack their lunches and remember their backpacks, but I only have a very brief window of time to be able to do these things for them.
There’s a term for this behavior in psychiatric circles. It’s called enmeshment, and it’s not healthy for kids or parents. It’s a maladaptive state of symbiosis that makes for unhappy, resentful parents and “failure to launch” children who move back into their bedrooms after college graduation.”
I know this parent who still helicopters over the son who is nearly thirty years old and to a lesser degree, the other kids who are past forty. This passage from the book makes me understand this phenomenon:
“The parenting pendulum swings back and forth over time, so the fact that it is currently hanging at its apex at the extreme end of the overparenting arc isn’t really anyone’s fault. It’s part of the action and reaction that constitute the history of our species. Early in the twentieth century, parents were instructed not to touch their children at all lest we spoil them, but by the time the nineties swung into view, experts had latched on to attachment parenting, in which we were instructed to sleep, eat, bathe, urinate and breath without ever letting go of our kangaroo-style infants. Sure, the pendulum swung through a sane, middle ground between 1970 and 1980, and I am forever grateful I was allowed to play in its gentle shade as it passed overhead. However, that golden moment of equilibrium was over much too soon, and we began our upward swing toward the place we find ourselves in today.”
So this current helicopter parent I know may not have been a helicopter parent in the 70’s but probably experiencing a backlash — guilt from underparenting the kids when they were young led to swinging the other way towards overparenting when the kids became adults.
It takes more time to teach a child how to clean a toilet than to clean the toilet ourselves, as is the case with about every worthwhile lesson . . . .
It’s easier for me to get velcro strapping shoes for Jimmy than shoes with those pesky shoelaces that takes too much time for him to master. This morning, I stopped myself from helping Jimmy with his shirt buttons and instead watched him do it oh so much slower but on his own.
“. . . . doing what feels good has fostered a generation of narcissistic, self-indulgent children unwilling to take risks or cope with consequences, what will work? What parenting practice can help our children acquire the skills, values and virtues on which a positive sense of self is built?
Parenting for autonomy. Parenting for independence and a sense of self, born out of real competence, not misguided confidence. Parenting for resilience in the face of mistakes and failures. Parenting for what is right and good in the final tally, not for what feels right and good in the moment. Parenting for tomorrow, not just for today.”
“Autonomy and independence are similar beasts, but their roots reveal a key difference. Independence is the linguistic opposite of dependence, but autonomy is something more. It comes from the Greek auto, which means “self,” and nomos, which means “custom” or “law,” so to be autonomous, a child has to have internalized a system of rules for living independently. In order to help foster the formation of this self-rule, parents have to help kids come up with a system of guiding principles so they will be able to problem-solve and think creatively while remaining rooted in tried-and-true principles of behavior. When parents are overcontrolling, kids tend not to think about why adn how they act in the world. Their choice is to respond to our rules or not. When they are given more control over their worlds out of our sphere of our sphere of influence, they are more likely to make solid, rule-based decisions. It’s a win-win situation for parents really, because autonomy begets autonomy. As kids realize they have control over their worlds, they want more control over their lives and become more responsible.”
Above all, keep your eye on the prize: intrinsic motivation. Protecting kids from the frustration, anxiety, and sadness they experience from failure in the short term keeps our children from becoming resilient and from experiencing the growth mindset they deserve.
Encourage competence in your child whenever possible. Watch a child master fixing her own lunch, or listen to a teenager recount the moment he made a goal in soccer practice. Competence and mastery are incredible motivators. Once children get a taste of success, particularly success born of their own efforts and persistence, it becomes addictive. This is the lovely thing about competence: it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
I am not even half-way through the book, so will post another set of passages next time.