I can’t help but share the article forwarded to me by my friend Lauren. She’s the mom that helped start this blog in the first place… a fellow mom sick of the “serve me” attitude in her own home.
Here’s a little taste, an apetizer of sorts, from Lori Gottlieb’s Atlantic Monthy article entitled “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy“. There are four pages (link below), so don’t be fooled by the video at the bottom of the first page and think it’s over. Pardon certain explitives – like the bad one at the beginning!, and take it for what it is – food for thought. Convicting food for thought.
It might require you to think, though (something I’m not quite used to). It didn’t help that while I was trying to read, my recently home from camp kid kept pelting me with a sponge ice cream scoop – you know the kind that is connected to a fake cone by a string that manages to come off after the first few fires. The hilarity fails me. Hmmm… never a moment of peace.
Be encouraged by Lori’s article… and keep on keepin’ on fellow recovering enablers. It might be a long road, but it’s worth traveling. (Let’s keep reminding each other!)
There was so much to choose from … here’s just a bit.
How to Land Your Kid in Therapy
….Could it be that by protecting our kids from unhappiness as children, we’re depriving them of happiness as adults?
Paul Bohn, a psychiatrist at UCLA who came to speak at my clinic, says the answer may be yes. Based on what he sees in his practice, Bohn believes many parents will do anything to avoid having their kids experience even mild discomfort, anxiety, or disappointment—“anything less than pleasant,” as he puts it—with the result that when, as adults, they experience the normal frustrations of life, they think something must be terribly wrong.
Consider a toddler who’s running in the park and trips on a rock, Bohn says. Some parents swoop in immediately, pick up the toddler, and comfort her in that moment of shock, before she even starts crying. But, Bohn explains, this actually prevents her from feeling secure—not just on the playground, but in life. If you don’t let her experience that momentary confusion, give her the space to figure out what just happened (Oh, I tripped), and then briefly let her grapple with the frustration of having fallen and perhaps even try to pick herself up, she has no idea what discomfort feels like, and will have no framework for how to recover when she feels discomfort later in life. These toddlers become the college kids who text their parents with an SOS if the slightest thing goes wrong, instead of attempting to figure out how to deal with it themselves. If, on the other hand, the child trips on the rock, and the parents let her try to reorient for a second before going over to comfort her, the child learns: That was scary for a second, but I’m okay now. If something unpleasant happens, I can get through it. In many cases, Bohn says, the child recovers fine on her own—but parents never learn this, because they’re too busy protecting their kid when she doesn’t need protection.
Last October, in an article for the New York Times Magazine, Renée Bacher, a mother in Louisiana, described the emptiness she felt as she sent her daughter off to college in the Northeast. Bacher tried getting support from other mother friends, who, it turned out, were too busy picking up a refrigerator for a child’s college dorm room or rushing home to turn off a high-schooler’s laptop. And while Bacher initially justified her mother-hen actions as being in her daughter’s best interest—coming up with excuses to vet her daughter’s roommate or staying too long in her daughter’s dorm room under the guise of helping her move in—eventually she concluded: “As with all Helicopter Parenting, this was about me.”
Bacher isn’t unusual. Wendy Mogel says that colleges have had so much trouble getting parents off campus after freshman orientation that school administrators have had to come up with strategies to boot them. At the University of Chicago, she said, they’ve now added a second bagpipe processional at the end of opening ceremonies—the first is to lead the students to another event, the second to usher the parents away from their kids. The University of Vermont has hired “parent bouncers,” whose job is to keep hovering parents at bay. She said that many schools are appointing an unofficial “dean of parents” just to wrangle the grown-ups. Despite the spate of articles in recent years exploring why so many people in their 20s seem reluctant to grow up, the problem may be less that kids are refusing to separate and individuate than that their parents are resisting doing so.
The irony is that measures of self-esteem are poor predictors of how content a person will be, especially if the self-esteem comes from constant accommodation and praise rather than earned accomplishment. According to Jean Twenge, research shows that much better predictors of life fulfillment and success are perseverance, resiliency, and reality-testing—qualities that people need so they can navigate the day-to-day.
(Link: How to Land Your Kid in Therapy)
Growing up I had the ultimate “non helicopter” parents. My mom stopped accompanying me to school orientations in elementary school…In fact the only reason she accompanied me at the beginning of 3rd grade was because I had spent the weekend before school started in the hospital because my Dr suspected I had appendicitis, and she wanted to warn my teacher in case I needed to be sent home. After that I was pretty much on my own. My parents never dreamed of accompanying me to college orientation. And for that I will be forever grateful. Now if I can only learn from their example.