LIVING: Successful parenting teaches children that that personal accomplishment is its own reward.
What Makes a Successful Parent?
In the last 25 we have seen a sharp increase in the self-esteem scores and glowing academic report cards of our youth. However, when we review objective measures of children’s “success,” we find that there is a decline in overall performance, from SAT scores to work output and even relationship success.
Ironically, in our desire to protect our children’s self-esteem by giving everyone on the soccer team a trophy, we are not reinforcing and rewarding the effort it takes to earn the award. In fact, we are working so hard to protect our children, that we are depriving them of life’s most valuable lessons and the opportunity to realize that personal accomplishment is its own reward.
In the 2010 New York Times article, Defining a Successful Parent, author Lisa Belkin suggests, “the point of parenting is to guide children towards independence. The goal, starkly put, is for [your children] to stop needing you.”
Like most parents, Belkin admits that she is a better proponent than practitioner of this philosophy; however, the American Psychological Association (APA) confirms her theory.
According to the APA, parenting practices around the world share three major goals:
- ensuring children’s health and safety,
- preparing children for life as productive adults and
- transmitting cultural values.
In order to achieve these goals, Belkin states that a “high-quality parent-child relationship is critical for healthy development.”
Jane Nelson, Ed.D, a licensed marriage and family therapist and co-author of the Positive Discipline series, recognizes the bittersweet reality that “[t]he major part of our job as parents is to eventually become dispensable.” She advises that, in order to do this, parents need to teach kids to do things for themselves.
Unfortunately, as Nelson notes, we are doing just the opposite.
In the interest of time and efficiency in our busy lives, parents tend to do things for their children that the kids could easily do for themselves, depriving them of the opportunity to learn how to perform basic functions required for independent living including, but not limited to, cooking, cleaning, and laundry.
Start simple by doing chores with your kids, whether you are unloading the dishwasher, washing the car, or cleaning the bathroom. Model the behavior, teach the action and then allow the child to repeat the lesson.
Most parents are too impatient to allow their children to do a job on their own, preferring instead to do it their own way and just get the work done. Resist the temptation to step in, and allow your child to learn the pride of a job well done.
One of my favorite mottos for parents is “Do less, so the kids can do more.” So, sit back, relax, and enjoy parenthood a little bit. | iH
Family law attorney, author, and educator, Margaret Pickard serves as an Outsource Mediator and Parent Coordinator for the Las Vegas Family Courts. Recognized as 2011 Peacemaker of the Year and named among the 2014 Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in Nevada, she has also taught at numerous universities and is the author of The Unbroken Circle of Love and Proof-Positive Parenting: What Social Science Research Tells Us About Raising Responsible Kids.