Thursday, June 11, 2015

We all know how to raise a child, but do we know how to raise an adult?

I received a free copy of How To Raise An Adult, and all opinions stated are that of my own.

Do you remember being pregnant--all the reading you did, all the research, all the preparation, and your overall thinking that you are going to have a good handle on this parenting gig. Maybe you are currently pregnant-- reading article after article, book after book, one method versus another, and have already formed an idea of where you will fall in parenthood. Or should I say, land.

Perhaps you're not a parent at all, and maybe not planning on being one, but you know exactly the kind of parent out there that you like or dislike. You see them around you, you run into them at the grocery store, and you have formed opinions about this parent or that parent based upon observation. We know what's wrong with this world, and we know what these parents should be doing. At least we know what we would do if we were them.

But do we?

No matter where we are in the circle of parenting, we all seem to have an opinion on it. I know I was one of those people. One of those first time pregnant/first time moms that just knew I was going to do it all right. I wasn't going to mess up. I was going to do all things by the book. My children would never throw a fit in the middle aisle of the grocery store. They would learn how to sit still, respect me at all times, and be nothing but a joy every day of their life. I would never raise my voice. I would never look at my cell phone. I would utilize all the tools available to me to succeed. And by golly, I was going to tell you my success story every step of the way.

And I was wrong. I didn't know it all. I don't know it all. And I don't have it all right.

Some of us are scared. Some are confident. Some have been doing this for a long time. Some just a few months. Regardless, we are all mothers and fathers who just want to do what is best for our children. And no matter what we think we know, or how much we think we have learned, there is always a new idea or way of looking at something. I know for me, knowledge is power. Although I hate reading articles on parenting that are one sided or overly opinionated, I do love to read a good book that passes on useful information to being a better parent. Because at the end of the day, we all have room to grow.

That is why I was excited to start reading How to Raise an Adult, by Julie Lythcott-Haims. The title alone grasped my attention as I was curious where the author was heading with it. Typically we want to know how to raise a child, but she asks the deeper and more important question and that is, how do we raise an adult? A self-sufficient, independent, confident adult. But this journey doesn't begin in adulthood, it begins now. From the moment your child was even thought of, conceived, and loved, we, as parents, have to start thinking about how our actions and decisions will impact their future. Often times we are concerned about the now and pleasing them in that present moment in time, but we seldom think about how those decisions could hinder them as an adult.

The author reeled me in right then and there.  "Humans need some degree of weathering in order to survive the larger challenges life will throw our way. Without experiencing the rougher spots of life, our kids become exquisite, like orchids, yet are incapable, sometimes terribly incapable, of thriving in the real world on their own. Why did parenting change from preparing our kids for life to protecting them from life, which means they are not prepared to live life on their own."

Isn't it true though? Are we not so focused on making sure that every cabinet is locked, every sharp corner is covered, every knee and elbow and head is safe, and that our eyes and ears are always on the lookout everywhere we go, that sometimes we forget the bigger picture. A picture we seem to push in the back of our minds, but one that is oh so very important. That we won't be able to protect our children from all the physical and emotional harm of the world. That one day {a day way sooner than we expect} our children will have to go out on their own and make decisions on their own. They will have to navigate through life, and they will have to know how to do so by themselves. We think by preventing pain or fear that somehow we are helping our children. But are we not as a result doing harm?

Julie dives deep into this major shift in parenting--where parents are more involved than ever before, and where children are most effected by this change in their future as adults. The author went on to share a true story of an adult male, named Tyler in the book, who was a very prominent lawyer that graduated from Harvard and Stanford and grew up in a family with two very involved parents that seldom let him veer off the road that they had drawn out for him. Although he grew up to be successful, he was anything but that deep down inside. Something great that he said to the author: "You feel you have security that you should be grateful for. Someone is literally laying out the path for you. You think it's a good thing. You think you're lucky. But then you see people who are truly independent, truly passionate about what they do, and you realize you don't know yourself at all."


Here is an example of a person that looks successful on the outside and has it all together, but yet he is the complete opposite of that on the inside. And when I read his story, and heard the pain through his message, I immediately thought about what I would want more for my children. Do I want them to be successful in their careers, or do I want them to feel secure and happiness in what they do? Without hesitation, I would choose happiness right away. I think most parents would say the same thing. The question is whether they, we, understand what happiness means to our children and what are we doing that hinders that happiness.

Reading through this book has made me think deeper about our own parenting style and how there are areas where we can make changes. Andrew and I have talked extensively about our children's futures, and How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims, will most definitely play into those conversations as we move forward in life. While we want to protect our children while they are little, we also don't want to shelter them from the reality of the world. That is why it is important for our children to make decisions on their own. To be there, as parents to answer questions, offer support, and share our own personal experiences, but not to actually do it for them. Not to think for them. Not to act for them. Not to make major life decisions for them. There is a lot to be said about freedom, and you grow tremendously as a person when you know that freedom is yours.

If you haven't gotten a chance to read this book yet, I highly recommend it. Read it, gift it, and bookmark it for the future. Lots of knowledge and a great takeaway message for parents and guardians of all types.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


  1. This sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for sharing! I'll have to check it out.

  2. Really like this post. It gives me something to think about. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Really like this post. It gives me something to think about. Thanks for sharing!


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