Thoughts from Head of School-Teaching independence in children

Sallie-Wells-headMy husband and I have successfully launched one of our three children. Our daughter is currently living in New York City and is supporting herself (happy dance – although I miss her terribly). Our two sons have yet to graduate from college, one will graduate this December and the other “on time” next May (They are twins – it’s important to communicate “on time”. For those of you with twins you’ll understand the significance of communicating that necessary fact). I’ll have to report back on how launching for them goes. Each child is different so I’m preparing myself for all possible scenarios, knowing, of course, what the ultimate goal is…full independence.

 
There’s a new book on the market by Julie Lythcott-Haims that is getting quite the buzz and discusses the skills necessary for children to succeed in college and beyond. It’s titled, “How to Raise an Adult”. The author, Julie Lythcott-Haims, is Stanford’s former dean of freshmen undergraduate advising and shares her and many of her colleagues experience with unprepared freshmen who enter college with an insecure sense of self and low confidence in their ability to achieve. Lythcott-Haims shares research, experience and a wealth of knowledge that addresses the negative impacts of “helicopter parenting”.
 
Here’s a book review from the NY Times on Lythcott-Haims’ book in case you’re interested in learning more:
 
Click on title:   How to Raise an Adult
 
Parenting is a tough job. There are no easy to follow steps or “how to” manual and each child is different, so what works for one may not work for the next. One thing that I have learned is that each day prepares us for the next. What we do today builds tomorrow. So as parents and educators it’s important to ask ourselves what is the life lesson I’m trying to teach? What’s the take away and is that the best answer not just for today but for tomorrow and the many tomorrows that follow? Are the things that I’m doing or not doing creating the right outcomes, the outcomes to last a life time? Am I supporting and influencing a child that will be happy, confident and independent? As our children grow their “success” is for them to define and determine. It’s our job, as their parents, to give them the skills and support so that they can contribute to their world in a way that is meaningful to them. We cannot be afraid of the unknown for we cannot even imagine what our children will do, where they will live, or how they will define what makes them happy. At the end of the day all we can do is love them. Hovering over them does not build independence. It doesn’t give them confidence in themselves. Hovering creates dependence. “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings”. – Unknown
Teaching independence is key! 
  

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