The voices are unanimous. Parenting to raise independent, resilient adults is hard work. It involves pain and discipline. It results in frustrated and hurt children—at least when they’re not getting what they want. But we all have to get through that to grow up and be responsible, considerate, self-sufficient people who can hold down a job and take care of others.
- Julie Lythcott-Haims writes from her experience as a parent and retired Freshman Dean at Stanford. Her book is called How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. She raises concerns about how overparented children lack coping skills and confidence in themselves to get things done. She recites many examples of parents intervening at various points in childhood to adulthood with dire consequences, such as getting the kid fired.
- Heather Havrilesky says “Get a life, and your child might do the same someday.” Her New York Times book review of Lythcott-Haims’ book describes the extreme parenting witnessed at Stanford as “extreme parental interference suggesting not just a lack of common sense, but a lack of wisdom and healthy boundaries (if not personal dignity).”
- KJ Dell’Antonia writes in her Motherlode column in the New York Times: “If we cover up our children’s best work with ours, they learn that their best isn’t good enough. If we cover up their weak efforts with our willingness to do more, then they’ll never learn that more is worth doing. If we prop up their procrastination with our ability to nag and cajole, they’ll never learn to discipline themselves.”
- Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, author of Raising Kids to Thrive, says the fundamental principles of raising resilient children are anything but simple. “The challenge of parenting is how to apply these core principles in a complicated world. It doesn’t matter what we know to be right, what we wrestle with is how to do it.”
- In a segment on Free Range Kids, Jordan Klepper of The Daily Show reports (in tongue and cheek) “As compared with kids just 25 years ago, today’s children are exponentially dumber.” The segment points out in a humorous way the absurdity of how afraid we are of giving kids even the slightest bit of independence.
Parents typically want their children to be happy, independent adults one day. To make that happen, we as a society have to support parents to “parent up” and let their kids grow up.