MICDS parents gathered at the Head of School Hot Topics sessions on Monday to discuss themes from the book How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims and how these themes can help inform how we parent and educate children. Whether parents had finished the book or had just started it, they engaged in discussion about the lure of over-parenting and the potential negative impacts on kids. They also shared ideas and stories of how they have overcome this lure in their own lives, along with tips and tricks to guide fellow parents and pitfalls to avoid.
Lisa Lyle, Head of School, shared “When faced with setbacks in our child’s academic or extra-curricular progress, it is important to keep the end goal in mind. Is the end goal a perfect GPA / resume for your child? Or is it your child pursuing a career or life with passion and purpose?” It is tempting to focus only on the grades, but it is well worth it to look past the grades and get at your child’s true passions. Perhaps your child has developed an early interest in physics, but that advanced level physics class might be harmful to a near perfect GPA. The book’s author would argue that it is better to take the challenging physics class, even if it means a GPA risk. The child may go on to become a physicist because of the passion ignited in that class, even if he did receive a lesser grade than normal.
Lori Stanec, mother of Renee ’20, shared, “One of the hardest things about being a parent is distinguishing between your aspirations and goals and your child’s.”
Sometimes the child is the teacher, as one parent shared. Her daughter has fully embraced the “growth mindset” over the “fixed mindset” and sometimes she has to remind her parents to do the same. A growth mindset means that you look at weaknesses and challenges as opportunities for growth rather than permanent shortcomings – for example, “I may not be very good at this yet but if I work hard at it, I’ll get better.” This mindset is very helpful to children and adults alike.
Sherman Ford, father of Alysha ’20, knows how difficult it is to watch your child struggle, as any parent does, but still he believes, “We’re all going to fail. But if you work at it and try hard, you will learn from it. We have to allow our child to fail so they can learn to succeed.”
Ms. Lyle shared an example of how MICDS strives to educate students in line with the themes of the book. “MICDS has an intentional focus on developing self advocacy in our students. For example, when a parent voices a concern to an administrator, often the first question in response is ‘Has your child talke to the teacher yet?’ This is not intended to deflect the question or ignore the potential problem. Rather, the goal is for the child to develop and practice self advocacy. We want them to learn how to navigate difficult conversations with their teachers, rather than lean on their parents to do that challenging work for them.”