Julie Lythcott-Haims encourages parents and professionals to take a second look at their parenting tactics.
By Allison Jacobs
There is no exact science to parenting, but as New York Times bestselling author Julie Lythcott-Haims has discovered, there are certain actions that can put a damper on our children’s mental health.
As part of Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s community-wide youth mental health initiative, “We Need to Talk,” the team at Federation invited Lythcott-Haims for an evening of honest conversation at Temple Beth El.
Parents and professionals filled the synagogue on the snowy evening of January 24 to hear Lythcott-Haims share wisdom from her 2015 book, How to Raise an Adult.
She opened with take-aways from her past role as Stanford University’s Dean of Freshmen. She recalled asking students questions designed to open them up as a person, such as, “Who are you, kid?” “What do you know to be true about yourself so far?”
For Lythcott-Haims, these candid conversations were incredibly joyful, and she made sure to steer away from discussions revolving solely around academia.
Throughout her ten years at Stanford, she noticed three styles of parenting that inspired her to write her book, How to Raise and Adult: The “fiercely directive parent” who enforces their child’s professional pathway; the “overprotective parent” who calls and e-mails constantly to check in; and the “concierge parent” who holds their child’s hand and prevents them from making mistakes.
In her own life, Lythcott-Haims learned to pull back from making decisions for her own children. A light bulb moment occurred when she noticed her son, Sawyer, appeared exhausted and was no longer walking around with a book in his hand.
Out of concern for his mental health, she gave him the option of dropping a class of his choice during his sophomore year of high school, putting aside her worries about what colleges might think. When Sawyer was able to decide this for himself, he was back to his usual self and able to focus on honors chemistry, which he loved.
As Lythcott-Haims begins practicing what she preaches, she watches her own children begin discover their passions in life.
While she knows for a fact it can be hard not to step in and do everything for our kids in order to foster so-called success, she references a Harvard longitudinal study that found young people who do chores and have part-time jobs excel professionally.
Lythcott-Haims is not only a huge proponent of assigning chores, but also emphasizes one key ingredient for children becoming successful, resilient adults — love.
“Love must exist in our lives,” she emphasizes.
As parents in the crowd nodded in recognition, she ended her talk with these words of wisdom: “When we stop obsessing and stop micro-managing, it’s not just a way to lessen our children’s depression and anxiety, but it lessens ours, too.”
After her talk and an enlightening Q&A session, Lythcott-Haims ventured into the lobby to sign books and chat with audience members.
Julie Frank, a West Bloomfield resident and school psychologist, attended the talk for both personal and professional reasons.
“She is so relatable — I felt everyone could feel a connection to her,” Frank says.
Audience members appeared to resonate with Lythcott-Haims’ own challenges and her philosophy on raising children to be independent, happy adults.
For more words of wisdom from Julie Lythcott-Haims, visit her website at https://www.julielythcotthaims.com/
To purchase “How to Raise an Adult” click here: https://www.zazzle.com/julielythcotthaims