Today’s edition of the Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal features an interesting article by Sue Shellenbarger entitled “Ambitious Parents, Mellow Children,” that discusses the parenting struggles of Type A parents who are raising Type B children.
It raises the important issue of what I have called the “Fundamental Parental Challenge”; namely, fulfilling our parental responsibilities for ensuring our children’s health and safety, fostering their moral and family values, teaching proper manners and etiquette, and encouraging learning, WITHOUT obstructing their personal growth and life path through domineering forms of control.
This challenge is even more daunting for Type A personalities whose very nature is to be controlling!
The article rightfully reports that significant problems arise when “drive trumps compassion” and Type A parents push their children too hard, criticizing them when they are already doing their best or piling on unreasonable demands.
I have also found that when we overmanage our children’s lives, it deprives them of the valuable learning experiences and wisdom that come with making mistakes, as well as the self-reliance, confidence, and independence that would serve them well as adults. (I examine these and other problems and how to avoid them in the chapter of my book entitled “Losing Parental Control: Reducing the Struggle.”)
Encouragingly, the article also reports that some Type A parents are seeing the wisdom of allowing their children to follow their own paths. They understand that their children are different from them in many ways and are honoring the differences. One such mother, Christie Krase, is at peace with the vast differences between her and her 14 year old son, Jackson. She says, “I’m accepting that there are different versions of success,” and hopes her son will “do whatever inspires him.”
Similarly, as a former parental controller myself, I now try to follow my daughter Lana’s sound advice to parents at her 6th grade graduation ceremony whenever I can:
“Parents. If you teach us only to be like you, then how do you expect us to live in the future? Right now, we are figuring out who we are, and who we will become. All you can do is give us love and support. Believe in us, and we’ll make the right choices in life.”
Thus far, Lana has been making wise choices for herself, for which I am very blessed and grateful.
Please share with me your beliefs, insights and experiences (good and bad) about parental control.
In the meantime, remember to,
Let It Go–and Accept “What Is!”
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