Madeline Levine, psychologist and author of The Price of Privilege, says that there are three ways we might be overparenting and unwittingly causing psychological harm:
- When we do for our kids what they can already do for themselves;
- When we do for our kids what they can almost do for themselves; and
- When our parenting behavior is motivated by our own egos.
My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:
This is our third 4th of July apart. I miss you! Holidays are always tough without you. I try to hang on to good memories like the first July Fourth in our new home with our new neighbors. Remember Vook, Maya and the rest of the gang helping us with fireworks? Remember how our neighbors used to have the kids play together and pool resources to feed them juice, ice cream, etc.?
In our time apart, it is my hope that you will continue to grow and develop based on the value system and skills I tried to impart. You know what is good and what is bad. Stay grounded in the good. But, continue to push yourselves and expand your horizons. Keep exposing yourself to new ideas, and trying new things. Don’t be afraid to fail.
Remember how scared you were when you first joined the CYO basketball team, Shosh and Jaialai? Shosh, remember how much you improved? There were always better players offensively (that comes with practice), but, as the coach said, you are an amazing defensive player! Jaialai, you threw yourself into the game and was so excited about playing on the team, remember? You even told Ms. Nicole about it, remember?
During our brief time together, I tried to guide you, but let you experience life for yourself. You can’t learn and grow if you are not given an opportunity to fail. For example, if you jumped and fell, then you would know the limits of how far and how high you could jump at that moment in time.
Bring back the chores, proclaims Richard Bromfield, a Boston psychologist and author of “How to Unspoil Your Child Fast”. Simple tasks like making beds, washing dishes, and setting the table teach kids a basic work ethic and give them a sense of accomplishment. That’s what makes kids happy—“not constant flattery and reward,” Bromfield says. “Competency and real skills are what endow a child with robust self-esteem.” Chores, in other words, give them purpose and “a real connection to their world and their place in it.”
Stop giving. “Getting what they want, whenever they want it, can undermine children’s learning patience, gratitude, and all those old-fashioned values that help the adults they grow into manage a healthy, responsible, and contented life,” Bromfield says. Ironically, he says, “Affluent parenting can deprive a child of fundamental life skills.”
Reach for the stars, my sons. Dare to dream, and to reach for your dreams.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be one of those timid souls who live their lives in fear of the possibilities, and who die the shadows of what could have been.
Remember the Man in the Arena speech? Be
the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
(No, don’t fight lions. But don’t be afraid to fight to clean up the ocean; feed the hungry; comfort the lonely, sick, and dying; etc. See, e.g., http://inhabitat.com/19-year-old-student-develops-ocean-cleanup-array-that-could-remove-7250000-tons-of-plastic-from-the-worlds-oceans/. One man can change the world, or his little corner of the world. Don’t let people tell you otherwise.)
All my love, always,