THE GREAT MYTH ABOUT PARENTING
I f you’ve been paying attention to the news over the last few months, you undoubtedly read about the scandal involving actress Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, and others bribing college officials and lying on admissions applications — all in the name of “helping their kids be successful.” There is a myth in America (and probably around the world) that we ensure our children’s success by helping them as much as possible. As a result, many parents do whatever they can to make life easy for their kids. Some parents, like the celebrities already mentioned, go so far as to not even trust their kids to fill out a college admissions application correctly. These parents pay companies to complete admissions applications for their kids. (For the record, I filled out my own college applications in 1984. In my opinion, if you can’t fill out a college admissions application, maybe you don’t belong in college.) tasks on their own. The Swarovski family (the owners of the Swarovski crystal business) has owned their world-famous business for 140 years. I’m told by a friend who invests their money for them that the grandchildren are extremely successful and ambitious. How did that happen? Because their parents didn’t let them watch television or have computers until they were 15 years old! They read books instead. As a result, the grandchildren speak six languages fluently and are extremely smart, ambitious, and good at business. In reality, kids who grow up to be the most successful have parents who gave them emotional support but let them complete
the more lenient parent has the biggest effect on how the children turn out. There is a saying: “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.” It’s not inevitable. It’s possible for strong men (and women) to decide to raise strong children like the Swarovski family did. Here’s a less obvious way that parents harm their kids by not allowing them to do the hard work. Let’s say the young child wants something, a popular toy, perhaps. One parenting tactic is to say, “Well, we don’t have money. Sorry. You can’t have it.” The parent isn’t even letting their child imagine how they could get the toy. That gets ingrained as being a victim of circumstance, unable to do anything. A better parenting tactic would be to simply ask, “Well, how are you going to get it?” That opens up the creativity and puts the responsibility on the child to figure something out. This is in alignment with Peter Diamandis’ book “Abundance.” According to Diamandis, focusing on how bad things are and the reasons you can’t do something is fear-based. This is how your brain thinks when the primitive amygdala part of your brain — the lizard brain at the stem — is in control. However, if you can calm down and see things more rationally, you can start to find a solution to whatever challenge you’re facing. Asking your kids “How are you going to get it?” instead of saying, “We don’t have the money” is a way of engaging the rational part of your kids’ brains.
In my 20-plus years of practicing law, I’ve found it surprisingly common for parents to have conflicting parenting styles. Usually,
–Paul Deloughery, Esq.
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