We would do well to start thinking about success not in terms of today, the next grading period, or the next year, but in terms of what we hope for our children ten or twenty years down the line. It requires both courage and imagination to parent with this long view, but it is also the most effective way to ensure that our children have satisfying, meaningful lives.
If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?
By allowing [kids] to get occasionally bruised in childhood we are helping to make certain that they don’t get broken in adolescence. And by allowing them their failures in adolescence, we are helping to lay groundwork for success in adulthood.
Having children is like living in a frat house - nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up.
Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence – like a gift – by praising their brains and talents. It doesn’t work, and in fact has the opposite effect. It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong. If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.
If we rob [children] of opportunities to develop resilience or undercut their abilities by doing too much for them, solving all their dilemmas for them or overprotecting them, we actually send a damaging message – ‘I don’t believe you’re capable. You’re not good enough.’
We are overly concerned with…how our children ‘do’ rather than who our children ‘are’.
…there is a growing awareness that, in spite of tremendous external accomplishment, many kids are both dreadfully unhappy and impaired in their ability to function autonomously.
A childhood that has no stress in it would not prepare you for adulthood. If you never allow your child[ren] to exceed what they can do, how are they ever going to learn to manage adult life – where a lot of it is managing more than you thought you could manage?
It’s easy to see how this everyday stress [of parenting] leads to control. Stress narrows our focus. Rather than seeing the big parenting picture, we concentrate on the immediate goal – getting our child out the door or getting that homework done.
Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.
Getting one’s wishes granted immediately doesn’t make a child more grateful or content. It makes her less appreciative and more acquisitive.
No parent thinks, ‘I wonder what I can do today to undermine my children, subvert their effort, turn them off learning, and limit their achievement.’ Of course not. They think, ‘I would do anything, give anything, to make my child successful.’ Yet many of the things they do boomerang. Their helpful judgments, their lessons, their motivating techniques often send the wrong message.
Have you any idea how many children it takes to turn off one light in the kitchen? Three. It takes one to say “What light?” and two more to say “I didn’t turn it on.
When children become responsible for their own decisions and actions, they learn to face joyful and disappointing results. They learn that mistakes happen; sometimes they could have prevented them, but the next time they will be more prepared for them. If they are given many chances to exercise control in their lives, they are far less likely to see themselves as passive victims and blame others. This is the core of resilience – when faced with adversity, failure, or stress, kids who have a true center of control will be able to bounce back. Ultimately they will be happier, more optimistic, and better equipped to face the next challenge.
One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.
Part of our job as parents is to enforce seven-year-oldness in seven-year-olds – to demand it and to protect it. If a seven-year-old has all the information, privileges, and responsibilities of a ten-year-old, seven will be lost to him.
We’re bribing students into compliance instead of challenging them into engagement.
When a man dies, if he can pass enthusiasm along to his children, he has left them an estate of incalculable value.
Parenting is, without question, the hardest thing most people do in their lives. Following a child’s journey through school can be agonizing at times. No one is really prepared for the power of the love they feel for their children, and the feelings of profound vulnerability to which having children makes you susceptible. Few of us are ready for how different our children’s lives and temperaments are from our own. I believe that the central task of raising a child is to understand who that child is, what her strengths and limitations are, and the myriad of ways in which she is different from her parents.
You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.
Insanity is hereditary. You can catch it from your kids.