How much is too much

img_1235The title of today’s blog , how much is too much, is a question I’ve been wrestling with for years when it comes to my children.  How much intervention from me do they need, how many experiences should I be providing, and I providing too many opportunities and not enough struggles.  You get the idea.  To answer some of those questions, I recently read the book, How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims.

Not to give too much away, I wish I had found the book when my kids were about 6 and 8 instead of 13 and 15.  Most of it is common sense advice but it’s also things I/ we immediately cringe at because it goes against everything we hear these days.  Advice like let your child struggle, let your child help around the house even if it’s not to your standard, let your kid fail, let your kid wander around the neighbohood alone, and don’t have your kid scheduled within an inch of their life with an endless list af extra curriculars.

The one thing this book that sticks in my craw is all the college talk.  About 1/3 of the book talks about how we are stressing kids out and going over board about getting our kids into top tier and ivy league schools. Lythcott- Haims keeps reitterating that all kids need to go to college.  I reject that notion.  Not every child is destined to be in a four year college situation just like every job doesn’t require a college degree. Then she turns around and goes on to say a child has to make their own way but to her that means going to a lesser known college instead of going the trade school or military route. It seems a little ridiculous.

Because of all the top tier college talk I feel like the book is geared toward a specific demographic, the very upper middle class/lowest their wealthy – basically the country club set. I have no problem with that demographic. I’m not in it but I know people who are and yes they seem hell bent on getting their kid into a “good” college (i.e. top tier). I suppose for them that part of the book is something they need to hear.

But, she’s not wrong when she points out that the weather the family is the more sheltered and saved from struggle the child is. Between servants and parents wanting the child to do well in school and not be stressed about getting a job or not having the opportunity to play sports or volunteer work or whatever will look good on a transcript, these kids are spoiled rotten. We aren’t fabulously wealthy and more than once I have let my kids shirk household responsibilities so they could finish homework.  If we were a family where the adults were both working two jobs to make ends meet,I wouldn’t be able coddle my kids like that.

In the end, I have started making more of hands off parenting adjustments.  It seems easier to let the kids do whatever now that we are in the throes of the apocalypse. Every day there seems to be fewer and fewer rules and normals and with fewer cars on the road I don’t mind my kids biking three miles to the grocery for a soda.  Welcome back to 1985.

Photo Credit: Me, myself and I.  This is a screenshot of the book cover. I did book on audio free from my library but you do you.


3 thoughts on “How much is too much

  1. Such a timely post for me, and I am certainly taking your message to heart. We have been having our first taste of letting go of our 8-year-old daughter during the past couple months. Our daughter is homeschooled during “normal” times, so that means every kid she meets essentially passes through us first. We schedule playdates with other homeschoolers, drive her to extracurricular activities, etc. But the quarantine turned our neighborhood into The Sandlot. Kids no longer want to play video games, stare into their phones, or whatever. They are getting out to play and exploring the neighborhood. Every day at noon, we get a parade of kids knocking on our front door and then our daughter takes off on her bike or all the kids go to the fort they’ve made in our backyard (at least until the HOA discovers it). I have to lecture them not to feed the adolescent alligator in the local pond. One day, they whittled spears. They actually whittled, like it was the 1950s! But I freaked out, because spears. Today they watched a lizard lay eggs. They’ve formed a club with passwords and everything. On the one hand, it’s totally amazing this is happening in 2020. On the other hand, I am worried sick every time she takes off on her bike that the “club” is going to do something stupid. And I am used to having her around, lurking somewhere all day, so it just feels wrong, like I have a phantom limb or something. But I know I have to let it happen, or at least most of it. Let her get into trouble and figure out how to fix things. She said the funniest thing to me the other day about one of her friends: “He’s a free-range kid too.” It cracked me up.

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