Successful Parents or Successful Kids?

A recent New York Times article by Madeline Levine, clinician, consultant, and the author, once again visits the age-old question of how much parent involvement (a.k.a. "control") is too much? How many parents have stopped to wonder when they have crossed the line in pushing the envelope to raise "superkids?"

In her research, Levine mentions a few ideas that can give parents advice with which they can modify their behavior and monitor the affects on their children.

* Check out your own "happiness factor." Don't try to push your child while thinking that "at least something is going right in my life." Is your child achieving success according to your standards?
* Reasonably supporting a child, recognizing the value of autonomy, and stepping out of the way is key to his/her learning a new skill
* Too much praise and involvement causes stress and anxiety for children, and at the same time does not allow them to separate their successes and failures from your expectations. Success requires failure.

Levine equates this delicate balance between parents and children with learning to walk as a toddler.

"If you treat your walking toddler as if she can't walk, you diminish her confidence and distort reality. Ditto nightly 'reviews' of homework, repetitive phone calls to 'just check if you're O.K.' and 'editing' (read: writing) your child's college application essay."

Just imagine Mary saying to her son, Jesus, "Let me check out what you plan to say to the elders – I want to make sure the grammar and spelling are correct." Or, "Don't you leave my sight, young man! After what happened with finding you in the temple, we're not taking any chances! Besides, what are you telling those people, anyway?"

Allowing children to develop competencies, skills, and interests with a sense of autonomy can also build the resiliency needed for adulthood, where failures have greater consequence. (From the article: Raising Successful Children, by Madeline Levine, New York Times, August 4, 2012)