This week, I’ve been reading the book How To Raise An Adult, written by Julie Lythcott-Haims and published by Henry Holt and Company. Yes, another parenting book. You know I have a penchant for self-help titles! I believe we should all be on a constant path to self improvement, and there’s no easier way to do so than by immersing myself in a good book.
The title pretty much sums up what the book is about… a guide on how to raise our children into successful adults. The idea for the book came about when author Julie Lythcott-Haims, as the dean of freshmen at Stanford University, came to realize that more and more students were going to college less prepared than ever to be the adults that life needed them to be. As a dean and as a parent, she wanted to know what was going on, and does a good job of explaining it in the first section of the book.
Perhaps it’s due to our desire to see our kids succeed, but these days we’re overprotecting our kids more and more, over-directing them, and holding their hands too much and too often. Lythcott-Haims discusses the harm of helicopter parenting, and how we’re fostering dependence instead of independence without even realizing it, and why we should stop this behavior. Instead of raising adults, we’re raising kids that lack basic life skills… they don’t know how to talk to strangers, how to wake themselves up in the morning, how to cook for themselves, or how to do their own laundry! We need to learn how to turn childhood into an experience that actually prepares kids to be thriving, successful adults, and in part 3 of the book, she gives examples on how to do just that, showing how we can parent differently, while still helping our kids achieve real success in life.
I never really thought about it much, but How To Raise An Adult really did hammer down the fact that our kids don’t magically become adults when they turn 18. Childhood must prepare them for adulthood, and as parents, it’s our job to guide them through it. This book does a good job of laying down the facts in a way that’s easy to understand, as well as providing parents with practical solutions to the problem. While I don’t consider myself to be an overprotective mom at this point, I do think that this book will impact how I parent my daughters in the future. Well-researched and easy to read, I’d recommend it to any parent, whether you have a toddler or a 21-year-old.