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How to Raise an Adult

Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

By Julie Lythcott-Haims
  • Read in 13 minutes
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims

How to Raise an Adult (2015) reveals the ways in which the most common parenting method today, helicopter parenting, is doing more harm than good, both for parents and kids. These blinks outline a better way to parent – one that actually raises children to become truly independent adults.

Key idea 1 of 8

Too much parenting just isn’t good for your kids.

When it comes to parenting, there can be “too much of a good thing.” Overeager parents, or helicopter parents, seem to be everywhere. The term, coined in the 1990s, describes the type of parents who constantly hover over their children rather than raising them to be independent people. Today, this is standard parenting. And it’s not good. At all.

Flashback to the 1981 abduction and murder of six-year-old Adam Walsh, an event upon which a hugely popular movie would later be based, contributing to an atmosphere of fear among parents in the U.S. All of a sudden parenting was no longer about preparing children for life; instead, it was about protecting them from it.

After all, there’s a lot to be afraid of. Accidents, illnesses, strangers – any of these things could be potentially disastrous. But to a great extent these fears are irrational. It’s actually more likely for a kid to die in an equestrian accident than to be kidnapped, for instance.

It’s not just fear that motivates helicopter parents, though. They also parent with the hope that it will give the kids the best opportunities later in life. That’s why they manage their children’s extracurricular time so stringently. Sure, kids with helicopter parents often make it into a good school or a big business. But that doesn’t mean they’re prepared for life.

Moreover, helicopter parenting is a means to an end: achieving something the parents think is important. But just because the parents see something as necessary doesn’t mean it will make their children happy.

Helicopter parents are also motivated by a mistrust in the system. Many parents don’t view their schools as effective, and make an attempt to intervene and thus become overly involved. In addition, their desire to get their kids into the best colleges can lead to some extreme behavior. There are even parents who will hire a lawyer if they think their kid got the wrong grade!

But wait – are we arguing that it’s wrong to look out for your kid’s well-being? No, not in theory. But helicopter parents take it too far and, as you’ll see in the following blinks, this can have major consequences.

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