Raising Your Successful 35-Year-Old
Jared Sperli stashed this in education
A poor showing at the audition he is not practicing for means he will never get another chance at the state orchestra. It takes so long for children to learn the lessons we think they should learn when things go awry — what if by the time they’ve learned to do better, it’s too late for whatever we had in mind?
When we parents catch ourselves thinking that way, we need a goal reset. Dr. Ginsburg’s metaphor for the parenting style that lets children experience their own successes and failures is “lighthouse parenting.” “I want to be a model for my child, a stable force that they can always see,” he says. “I want to make sure that they don’t crash against the rocks, but I have to make sure that they can ride the waves on their own.”
It’s distinguishing between a crash and a rough wave that’s hard. “How do you protect and let them learn? It’s a hard line to toe,” he says, especially as children get older and their decisions begin to have longer-term consequences. It’s easier to let a fifth grader fail a test she didn’t study for than it is to look the other way when the same thing happens to a high school junior, and on specific questions like that, there’s “no prescription that applies to every kid,” he says.
Parents, he suggests, should focus on giving children navigational skills. Instead of talking to a teacher about how a child could improve a grade, send the child in herself, but help her practice what to say. Don’t nag endlessly about homework, but help create a study or project timetable that would make it possible to get it all done. When the cardboard water cycle model fails to hold water, help her think of the best way to present her now-soggy project without it, congratulate her on thinking big, and remind her that not everything works perfectly the first time.
Raising a successful adult means letting a child be a child, with all the mistakes and consequences and learning that come with childhood. If we cover up our children’s best work with ours, they learn that their best isn’t good enough. If we cover up their weak efforts with our willingness to do more, then they’ll never learn that more is worth doing. If we prop up their procrastination with our ability to nag and cajole, they’ll never learn to discipline themselves. And if we insist on prizing the result more than the process, they’ll never learn that sometimes it’s worth it to shoot for the moon, even if you don’t get there.