I was sent this video about six months ago, and with the topic of motherhood and parenting this month on the blog, I thought it appropriate to bring it out into the conversation. It features Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of the book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success who was in town speaking at St. John’s School here in Houston.
Lythcott-Haims is a former Dean of Freshman at Stanford University. You will not believe the stories she tells involving the level of involvement some college parents invest in their kid’s lives. She shares a very unique perspective in that she was witness to the evolution of “helicoptering” which she says began early to mid 1990s, when she and her colleagues were highly amused and perplexed by, for example, parents selecting their kids’ college course load. Fast forward to today and this overparenting is the norm. Additionally, as a parent she’s squarely in it and admits to succumbing to it.
Here she is giving a Tedx talk to an audience of high school students, an abbreviated version of the link above which is tailored to parents.
Listening to Lythcott-Haims speak is eye-opening to say the least. As I listened, I kept finding myself thinking about my own childhood. What happened to the days when your mother said things like “Be home before dark.” and “If you are bored, go play outside with the garden hose or use your imagination.” OR “Please wear shoes today.”
Ah, the gift of simpler times. Now, mind you — I grew up in a sprawling suburbia outside of Houston, Texas in the 70s and 80s. It was an emerging mecca of half dirt roads and half civilization. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I guess the reasons are so vast and complicated as to how we, as parents, have gotten to be where we are today, but one thing is for sure — our kids have lost their ability to just be kids. And this, more than anything else, makes me sad.