An Essential Parenting Book

By April 2, 2017Notes from Alexis

I have been reading a critically important book recently that is calling into question many of my own parenting practices. I don’t love to be criticized, but in this case, I am soaking it up because I am terrified of the consequences if I don’t. “How to Raise an Adult” by Julie Lythcott-Haims points out that many of my unquestioned compulsions in parenting will result in a young adult who will not be prepared for post-parental life. Shocker! I thought I was a good parent! Or at least I have every intention of good parenting, even if sometimes I yell or just can’t respond to another question starting with “What if every atom in the universe was…” I do have two teenage boys, and that may be a contributing factor to my overall exhaustion and not-unlimited capacity for extreme scientific what-if scenarios. However, these are not the issues at fault here! Turns out I do too much for my kids. I do too much for them, and I do too much for the household. They should be doing every single thing they are capable of, and if they are not capable, I should be teaching them and then backing off. I wish I had read this book 17 years ago, which incidentally were the last days of my life when I had a lot of time to lie around and read.

My own issues are obviously in the spotlight here. I like things done fast and “right”, so I do them. I love the feeling of a happy, pampered child who is pleased with me, and not mad at me for making them weed the yard in the hot sun. Most dangerous of all, I’d like to prevent them from suffering. Those are all issues about me (that need to be worked out in a different forum than parenting) not about what is good for my children on their path to responsible and confident adulthood.

In a nutshell, children need to learn to solve problems, do things for themselves and possibly fail in the process, make decisions that sometimes turn out wrong, feel capable through the process of discovering their own abilities, take risks, do their own work, pitch in and help out, do chores, and follow their own passions and interests.

Most especially, suffering, failure and disappointment, turn out to be experiences that children learn from, that gives them resilience and grit as they cope with the aftermath of those experiences. It is a difficult thing for me to allow my child to suffer. I was guilty just last week of some suffering prevention when I drove a lip balm to my son, who was spending a residential week at his Junior High. Seriously! I just couldn’t let it happen. Chapped lips are the worst.

It is a paradox, removing obstacles from our children’s paths for short-term gain (lack of suffering) leads to long-term issues (lack of self-efficacy and confidence).

I am guilty as charged, and I am trying to mend my ways, because I have a high school junior who bears a certain resemblance to royalty. I’m not naming names here, but le Petit Prince is a bit old to grumble about doing the dishes.

In my practice I also see kids who are not ready to be adults. Every person is unique, and expresses their insecurities in their own way, but I do see quite a few patterns that repeat. Homeopathy can help in these situations by removing habits that keep your child stuck in old patterns of behavior, ruts that they can’t get out of on their own. Removing these patterns frees your child up to be their authentic self and fulfill their potential. When I think about what I want for my kids, allowing them the freedom to be their authentic selves is highest on the list because it is the precursor to a joyful life of purpose and meaning.

As always, please do not treat chronic issues at home. Please make an appointment to see a professional homeopath. I offer free 15-minute phone consultations to ensure a good fit for all.

Some common patterns I see in 8-12th graders:

Wound tight
Has an idea of how everything has to be. Has to get everything right, or disaster will ensue. Every grade has to be an A, and every effort has to be 100%. Time is overfilled with obligations and activities, leaving little time with friends and family, and even less for unstructured time.
Possible helpful remedies: Carcinosin, Natrum muriaticum, Lycopodium

Ambitious
Knows what he wants. Zealous, impatient, efficient. Restless or hyperactive. Goes after what he wants, regardless of consequences to others. Fiery temperament. Workaholic. Competitive. Angry when expectations are not met.
Possible helpful remedies: Nux vomica, Lachesis, Platina, Veratrum

People Pleaser
Wants everyone to be happy. Wants to please parents, coaches and teachers, at the expense of own desires and needs. Can have extreme outbursts of anger when things really reach a critical mass. Wants to fit in with others.
Possible helpful remedies: Staphysagria, Lac caninum, Thuja, Palladium

Indecisive and timid
Dependent children. Fearful of responsibility. Want parents and other adults to decide things for them. Has no grit or backbone. Doesn’t know what she wants.
Possible helpful remedies: Baryta Carbonica, Silica, Calcarea Carbonica

Resources:

  • How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success – Julie Lythcott-Haims
  • The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed– Jessica Lahey
  • Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students – Denise Pope
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids – Madeline Levine
  • Challenge Success – www.challengesuccess.org