“Kids don’t acquire life skills by magic at the stroke of midnight on their eighteenth birthday. Childhood is meant to be the training ground.”
Parenting is not easy and, a lot of the time, parents are focused on the short-term (or even just the now), which is taking care of the child in front of them. However, that view won’t help the children transition to adults. Parents need to develop a long-term view of how they want to raise the children in front of them into adults.
In How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims, parents can find a plan and directions for how to raise a child into an adult. The author was a student dean at a university and a parent of two children when she started noticing young adults still acting like children and having overdependence on their parents. She sought advice and did research on why this phenomenon was happening.
The book is broken down into four main sections: what we are doing now, why we must stop, another way and daring to parent differently. She fills the books with stories, examples, research and personal testimonies to back her ideas. She proposes that adults need to be able to have certain basic skills and parents should identify these and focus on making sure their children can do those skills by the time they are 18 years old. She says adults should be able to talk to strangers, find their way around, manage assignments and deadlines, know how to run a household, handle interpersonal problems, cope with ups and downs, earn and manage money and take risks. Problems occur when we do for kids what they can already do for themselves, can almost do for themselves or when we do things for our own parenting ego.
She also focuses a lot on when parents push their children to only choose activities that will get them into a certain college or a certain job. A part of childhood is lost when they can’t choose or have the option of trying and failing at something. She writes, “Embrace the child you’ve got.”
I would highly recommend this book to any parent with a child at any age. It will encourage you to make your own goals of what you want your child to be able to do as an adult. It would be a great idea for parents to sit down together and make a list after reading this book so they have long-term goals regarding their children.
“Join me in doing right by those children by leaving the heard of hoverers, by fostering independence, not dependence, and by supporting them in being who they are rather than telling them who and what to be. Together we can push the parenting pendulum back in the other direction.”