By now you know that I really enjoy parenting books, especially those dealing with the psychology of parenting (and early childhood). So many of my recent parenting reads have dealt with the toddler years, so it was refreshing to receive a review copy of former Stanford dean, Julie Lythcott-Haims’ How To Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.
You might be wondering why I’m reading a book about raising and adult, with my son not yet three years old. The beauty of Lythcott-Haims’ book is that it applies to parents of babies through college students. It’s never too early — or too late — to tweak your parenting practices. Lythcott-Haims provides a bevy of research in How To Raise An Adult, but the research doesn’t bog down your reading because it’s presented in a conversational tone.
We’ve all heard the term helicopter parenting, but how many of us have ever explored how and why this parenting trend came about? I’ve often wondered, especially when I read articles reporting parents sitting in on their children’s job interviews or negotiating benefits packages for them, but I’ve never really explored the hows and whys (and knowing these can help me avoid becoming a helicopter parent). Lythcott-Haims provides a wonderful, research-backed, explanation of how the overparenting trend began. My favorite passage is something my husband and I have often laughed about when talking about childhood:
Look, today’s grandmothers were raised in completely different times. And they weren’t exactly watchful as parents. In fact between their smoke and drink-filled pregnancies, leaving us home alone while they were at work or out “finding themselves,” and record-setting divorce and remarriage rates, many of us who were born in the ’60s and ’70s fended for ourselves to an extent that today might be called neglect. (45)
Lythcott-Haims suggests that the overparenting trend may be in reaction to the laid-back approach our parents took towards parenting. I can’t say that I disagree, as she makes a solid case.
So, how does this relate to me, the parent of a toddler? Lythcott-Haims provides many examples of how overparenting ‘looks’, as well as illustrating how overparenting effects our children into adulthood. If we truly believe, as Lythcott-Haims says, that “One of the key life skills our children must develop…is the ability to live without us,” then we must do everything possible to avoid becoming helicopter parents (86).
So, why do so many women lose themselves in parenting? I’ve held this theory for a long time, and have even spoken about it, but Lythcott-Haims shares Psychotherapist Beth Gagnon’s take on this phenomenon: “Highly educated women pour their skills into parenting. They become experts at parenting in their mind” (121).
What is the key to nurturing your children and not crossing over the line into overparenting? Lythcott-Haims provides a beautifully simple mantra, developed by her friend, Stacey Ashlund. Are you ready for it?
- first we do it for you,
- then we do it with you,
- then we watch you do it,
- then you do it completely independently (166).
Brilliant! These are just a few of the many nuggets of parenting wisdom Julie Lythcott-Haims shares in How To Raise An Adult. A highly enjoyable read, I’ve learned a great deal from the research and examples provided in the book. If you’re interested in finding out more about raising your children for success without overparenting, pick up your copy today! How To Raise An Adult is available in bookstores, or you can purchase through my Amazon affiliate link HERE.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.