Launching our Kids (and Relaunching our Book Study)

Parenting is hard. It’s the hardest and most important job we’ll ever have. And in the busyness of life we hardly have time to step back and reflect on the ways we are making a difference in our children’s lives. I don’t know about you, but sometimes the busier I am, the more I have the tendency to just do—to do everything for my children rather than empower them to do for themselves.

It’s a classic problem with our generation of parents, isn’t it? We do for our children because sometimes we don’t have time (or at least we don’t think we do) to sit and teach. We pack our kids’ backpack because if we didn’t do it, who would?! We do our kids’ laundry because the thought of having to go out and buy all new undershirts after our son stained them pink just doesn’t sound appealing (thank goodness for online shopping!). And we book our children’s court, field, or ice times because they may just err on the forgetful side sometimes.

I’ll be the first to admit that, at times, the same applies to school. Whether it’s cleaning up those last few math problems our children don’t quite have a grasp on yet, or emailing their teachers for an extension because of a family emergency instead of coaching them through writing the email themselves, sometimes it’s just so much easier to do.

As we approach an even busier season—with important exams, district and sectional tournaments, recitals and plays—I want to encourage you to take some time to stop and just breathe. Because actually, this overscheduled parenting thing is affecting our kiddos too. In fact, according to Julie Lythcott-Haims in her book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, she notes that “researcher Ellen Galinsky asked one thousand kids what they would most like to change about their parents’ schedules…’the top wish was for mom and dad to be less tired and stressed.’”

In this vein, in addition to stopping and just breathing, I challenge you to set aside additional time to sit and ask your children how they are doing. Ask them what’s on their mind with school. And ask how you can be helpful and supportive without offering to do. By doing so, you might be surprised by their answers. You might find they actually don’t mind taking these stressors off your plate. In fact, they might prefer it.

This year, Lisa Lyle has asked us to read Julie Lythcott-Haims’ book, and as I’ve sifted through the pages, astounded (but also not surprised at the same time) by the way we as parents are raising this next generation, I am more reminded than ever of the importance of stopping and breathing—of taking the extra time to empower rather than do. I hope you are reminded of the same.

It’s been a busy year so far, and it goes without saying that it was a hectic fall here at MICDS. While we began the year with great momentum and devotion to reading and studying Lythcott-Haims’ book, it was easy for us to get sidetracked. And that’s partly why I am writing this blog post—as a challenge to all of us as parents to revive this good work, to truly take time to read the book and hold one another accountable for reflecting on the ways we are preparing our kids to thrive in this world.

I am proud of our MICDS community. This year is evidence that we come together during high-stress times in support of the most important thing—our children’s ability to lead and flourish in this complex and challenging world. This work we do to evaluate our role as parents and our partnership with the School in that effort is vital to our Mission, and I look forward to continuing this study.

On that note, I end with this quote from Lythcott-Haims that I hope inspires you as we dive even deeper into this time of year. She says, “Slow down, take a deep breath, look within, hug your partner, and hug your kid. Parenting doesn’t have to feel so hard anymore. You’ve got this.”