How to Raise an Adult Book Summary - How to Raise an Adult Book explained in key points
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Julie Lythcott-Haims

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

4.4 (141 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims advises parents on how to prepare children for real life. The book encourages them to let go of over-parenting and let their children learn through experience, to become independent adults.

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    How to Raise an Adult
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    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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    What is How to Raise an Adult about?

    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.

    How to Raise an Adult Review

    How to Raise an Adult (2015) by Julie Lythcott-Haims provides invaluable insights into raising independent and capable individuals. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • Containing practical strategies and personal stories, it equips parents with the tools to foster independence and resilience in their children.
    • Tackling the dangers of overparenting, it sheds light on the importance of allowing kids to navigate challenges and develop essential life skills.
    • Its compelling research and thought-provoking anecdotes make this book both informative and engaging, offering a fresh perspective on modern parenting.

    Best quote from How to Raise an Adult

    In a striving, ambitious, and competitive community, such as the one in which I live, not taking time to listen to your kids starts early.

    —Julie Lythcott-Haims
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    Who should read How to Raise an Adult?

    • Parents who want to raise stronger and more independent children
    • Parents who don’t want to give up their whole life just to raise their kids
    • New and expecting parents

    About the Author

    Julie Lythcott-Haims served as Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising at Stanford University, and has spoken and written widely on helicopter parenting. She is also a poet and a playwright.

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    How to Raise an Adult FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Raise an Adult?

    The main message of How to Raise an Adult is that parents should focus on raising independent and self-reliant children.

    How long does it take to read How to Raise an Adult?

    The reading time for How to Raise an Adult varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Raise an Adult a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Raise an Adult is worth reading as it provides valuable insights and practical advice on raising independent and resilient children.

    Who is the author of How to Raise an Adult?

    The author of How to Raise an Adult is Julie Lythcott-Haims.

    What to read after How to Raise an Adult?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Raise an Adult, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson
    • Unlocking Parental Intelligence by Laurie Hollman
    • The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey
    • Raising Cain by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson
    • The Strength Switch by Lea Waters
    • Getting to 50/50 by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober
    • How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
    • The Mindful Body by Ellen J. Langer
    • The Power of Showing Up by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
    • The Art of Clear Thinking by Hasard Lee