Raising Successful Children

One great thing about writing this blog is that it’s become a regular topic of discussion in my family. My father wants me to put my political opinions in writing. My mother worries about me offering information that can be misinterpreted or used inappropriately by Internet psychos. My brother offers advice on how my blog posts can connect more directly with Jewish values. My daughter provides the “millennial” or Y generation’s challenges or perspectives. My son sends me articles or ideas for potential topics. My husband offers constructive criticism and editing.

For this week, my son won out. He sent me an interesting piece called “Raising Successful Children” and the subject intrigued me. After all, with my son out of college for a year now and my daughter in her senior year of college, I can’t help but wonder… Are my children successful? How did my parenting factor into the equation? How do we even measure success in this area? How’d my husband and I do?

Whether you are considering becoming a parent, are presently a parent, or have been a parent, the fact is that parenting is THE toughest and most demanding job on the planet. I don’t know any parent – biblically, historically, or currently – who would say otherwise. And, why is the job so taxing? Because the world is a competitive, intimidating, fast moving, economically challenging, malicious, and stressful place and – as parents – we worry about our children being eaten alive. Even worse, if we as adults have stumbled into these pitfalls ourselves, we feel obligated to doing everything in our power to help our children avoid them. As a result, we have to be on call 24/7. The bottom line? It’s clear that there is a direct link between “successful children” and “successful parents.”

Because of this reality, parents are succumbing to “over-parenting” these days. Contemporary terms like “tiger mom” and “helicopter parent” imply ferocious and hovering behaviors that are about controlling and constantly surveying a child’s every move to turn out the “perfect” kid.  But, the article asks, “does over-parenting hurt, or help?” While it doesn’t offer a definitive answer, it states that the “happiest, most successful children have parents who do not do for them what they are capable of doing, or almost capable of doing; and their parents do not do things for them that satisfy their own needs rather than the needs of the child.” But that’s all easier said than done…

My husband and I have analyzed and discussed this matter quite a bit over the years. First, we reflected back on the parenting styles of our grandparents and parents and agreed that each were flawed in some major or minor ways. Yet somehow, in most cases, the kids came out okay. So, we used their examples – the ones that suited our purposes – to guide the ways in which we would or would not parent. Second, we knew from Day 1 that we were our kids’ parents; not their friends. Third, we realized that we had to help each child be the best that he or she could be; not who we wanted them to be. Fourth, we had to force ourselves to let go; to let our children fight their own battles and make their own mistakes. (For example, read The Unauthorized Party in this blog.) Fifth, and perhaps the most important, we as a couple had to be a stable, secure, and united front that modeled an adult life that was worth working and striving for.

So, how was our parenting? Are our kids successful? How do we measure success? How’d my husband and I do? I’ll let you know when we see how our kids parent their own kids…

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