I recently chatted with a Mom, Patricia, of four bright kids, one who recently graduated from Stanford. All of her neuro-typical kids have excelled in traditional academics and I found that she was a treasure of parenting advice.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, her expertise was shared effortlessly. She dropped pearls of wisdom the way others drop dangling modifiers. This was probably due to the fact that her advice was born out of her lived experience. Her knowledge is not merely theoretical, rather she had been to the rodeo many times and knew a thing or two about completing a bumpy ride.
Though I couldn't capture all her wisdom in a single post, I have done my best to distill our conversation into a few key lessons.
Lessons: Let your kids do something by themselves while assuring them you are there for support. This is not a 'push the birdie out of the nest' strategy. The child can learn to fly but you give them a parachute and are there to catch them if they fall.
Model behavior: whatever it is you want to teach your kids, be sure to do it yourself. This echoes a quote by the greatest college basketball coach, John Wooden: "Young people need models, not critics."
Schools are about fit, not about competition. As parents, it is easy to get caught up in the 'parent race' where you want the absolute best for your kids. This often translates into an assumption that the highest-ranked schools are the best schools. This fails to take into account the idea of kid-environment fit. The best place for your child may not be the best school according to U.S. News & Reports. It may be a tiny coastal college, it may be a college close to home, or one that specializes in a particular field or style of study. To instill this into her kids, Patricia had each of them apply to top schools, as well as less competitive State schools. This let her kids know that there was no pressure to get in. They could thrive in lots of places. It freed them up to choose what was right for them personally.
Thanks for checking in with the Parenting Lab. If you know a good parent we can chat with, please drop us a line at info 'at' mindfullabs.com.
To keep her kids privacy safe, she decided to speak anonymously.