“You know; I didn’t set out to be a parenting expert. In fact, I’m not very interested in parenting, per se. It’s just that there’s a certain style of parenting these days that is kind of messing up kids, impeding their chances to develop into themselves.” – Julie Lythcott-Haims
Julia Lythcott-Haims is the former Dean of Freshman at Stanford University, and may be one of the most important figures in bringing forth – and potentially solving – a prolific trait of parents that may threaten the very psychological and emotional well-being of their children.
While at Stanford, Lythcott-Haims was taken aback by the continuously-improving academic talent of incoming freshman classes: “Every batch of freshman is more accomplished than the last. Somehow their median GPA is a little higher, their SAT score is a little higher, they’ve done more AP’s than ever…who are these people?”
But, Lythcott-Haims saw a problem. A serious problem.
Academic Success at A Cost…
One particularly damaging critique of various education systems around the world is that far too much emphasis is placed on two things: (1) rote memorization and regurgitation of material and (2) basing grades exclusively off of (1). In other words, it’s all about memorization, memorization, memorization…and grades, grades, grades.
Many critics, perhaps rightfully so, state that this antiquated academic model restricts children, both in terms of potential and personal development.
Lythcott-Haims agrees with that sentiment…and a whole lot more:
“…it’s not just the grades, the scores, and not just the grades and scores, but the accolades and the awards and the sports, the activities, the leadership. We tell our kids, don’t just join a club, start a club, because colleges want to see that.”
Why do parents do this? Well, the former Stanford Dean explains that as well:
“…all of this is done to some hoped-for degree of perfection. We expect our kids to perform at a level of perfection that we were never asked to perform ourselves…and act like our kid’s concierge and personal handler and secretary.”
Ouch. Odds are she speared some parents in the heart with that critique. Not to mention many in academia.
STANFORD DEAN REVEALS THE SINGLE PARENTING TRAIT THAT RUINS CHILDREN
Overparenting: A ‘Checklisted’ Childhood
Lythcott-Haims refers to the abovementioned parenting behaviors as “helicopter parenting;” engineering a plan for the child and navigating every step of the way – always sort of “hovering” around. By engaging in “helicopter parenting,” Lythcott-Haims argues, many parents are subjecting their children to a type of ‘checklist’ to help ensure their success in both academics and life in general.