Tag Archives: parenting book

BooKs On MondaY: HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap & Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims

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By Leslie Lindsay 

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and GET THIS BOOK! It’s Malcolm Gladwell meets Paul Tough meets Madeline Levine in a fresh, timely take on raising excellent adults from former Stanford freshmen admissions dean and parent Julie Lythcott-Haims.HTRaiseAdult

Never preachy, and oh-so-relatable Lythcott-Haims is spot-on with her approach to parenting, over-parenting, and preparing your children for the adult world. Julie gets it–she’s a mom raising her two (now) teenaged children in Silicon Valley where it’s customary for kids to have most of what they want, thanks to high-powered and successful parents with seemingly endless resources. With compassion and empathy, Lythcott-Haims takes parents through the minefield of raising kids to be independent, and how that is, in fact, the best way to honor and support your children’s individuality.

Brimming with research and laid out in a manner all parents can appreciate, HOW TO RAISE AND ADULT is a deeply informed narrative, which reads as if you’re chatting with a good friend over coffee. You’ll come across cringe-worthy anecdotes of parental over-involvement gathered from the author’s observation and interviews with parents, teens, educators, coaches, and more.

HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT is about letting your children fly while offering them stepping stones to critical thinking, problem-solving, and resilience.

Due to an uber-busy book tour this fall–in fact, she’s in my neck of the woods right now–Ms. Lythcott-Haims is unavailable to join us for an interview, but…fear not, for here’s a little cheat-sheet for your next book group, coffee break, or anytime you’re with like-minded parents and want to delve into some of the topics addressed in HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT:

1. For better or worse, eighteen is not the magical age at which a child becomes an adult; ADULTHOOD is more than just a number. So what does it mean to be an adult? On page 145, Lythcott-Haims offers a response to this question with the help of Professor William Damon, who states that “an adult social role is one that is intrinsically not about you.” Do you agree or disagree with this definition? How would you define adulthood?

2. As Lythcott-Haims discusses in her introduction, parenting styles, values, and methodologies in the United States have changed through the years and between generations. Does (or will) your parenting style differ from that of your own parents? In your lifetime, have you noticed a broader shift in the ways we, as a culture, think about and practice parenting?

3. In the twenty-first century, TECHNOLOGY influences nearly every facet of our lives, including the ways in which we parent. On page 14, Lythcott-Haims presents the following examples of how technology has affected parent-child relationships: “Take, for example, the mother of a Beverly Hills high schooler who insisted her son text her hourly on his way to and from a beach outing with friends. . . Or the Stanford parent who contacted the university to say he thought his daughter was missing because he hadn’t heard from her in over a day.” How does technology play a role in the way you parent (or plan to parent)? Is the ability to be in constant contact a blessing or a curse?

4. As parents, it pains us to see our kids get hurt, or fail, or face ANY VARIETY OF DISAPPOINTMENT But Lythcott-Haims argues that the experience of failure is key to building resilience in children and young adults. To what extent, and in what ways, is failure a necessary crucible for growth? At what point, if any, should parents intervene to prevent struggle?

5. Developmental psychologists generally agree that there are FOUR TYPES OF PARENTING: authoritative, permissive/indulgent, neglectful, and authoritarian. These types are diagrammed on a Cartesian chart on page 146. If your parenting style were a plot point on this chart, where do you think it would fall? Has its position changed over time?

6. There are numerous examples throughout How to Raise an Adult of parents who become exceedingly INVOLVED in their children’s schoolwork and responsibilities—sometimes through college and even beyond, into their children’s professional career. Is it ever appropriate or acceptable for parents to assist their children with schoolwork? College applications? The job search? 

7. On pages 81 to 83, Lythcott-Haims proposes a CHECK-LIST OF LIFE SKILLS that any self-sufficient eighteen-year old should be able to exhibit. Do you agree with the contents of this list? Are there skills or behaviors that you think should be added to or removed from the list?

8. On pages 166 to 174, Lythcott-Haims describes a 4-STEP STRATEGY FOR TEACHING LIFE-SKILLS: 1) first we do it for you, 2) then we do it with you, 3) then we watch you do it, and 4) then you do it completely independently. She acknowledges that the third and fourth steps are often the most difficult for parents to carry out, and require an enormous leap of faith. In your experience, why is it hard for parents to stand back? What are the fears and hopes involved, and how can a parent mitigate them?

9. One of the book’s major concerns is the PRESSURE that young people feel—to get straight As and perform well in extracurricular activities, and ultimately to gain admission to top-ranked universities and to obtain job offers from well-known companies—and the harms to mental health that result from this pressure. To what extent is it possible for individual parents to encourage effort and striving, and to reward achievement, without risking their children’s mental health and without fueling the “brand name brouhaha,” as Lythcott-Haims calls it on page 248? In what ways does our current collective value system resist individual efforts to turn the tide?

10. As discussed in Part 4 of the book, over-parenting not only negatively affects our children, but often places undue STRAIN ON PARENTS themselves. How does your parenting style affect your stress levels and your sense of self?

So…have you made it to the bookstore yet? Let me know your thoughts! 

For more information, please visit: 

  • The HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT website where you can share your story, read interviews from TIME, CBS this Morning, MSNBC, THE HUFFINGTON POST, the LA TIMES, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, find a book tour near you, and more
  • HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT on Facebook
  • Julie Lythcott-Haims on Twitter 

Julie Lythcott-Haims_Author photo for publicity and marketing_Credit to Kristina VetterBio: I am deeply interested in humans – all of us – living lives of meaning and purpose, which requires figuring out what we’re good at and what we love, and being the best version of that self we can be. So I’m interested in what gets in the way of that.  I wrote this book because too many adolescents and young adults seem to be on a path of someone else’s making, while being subjected to a lot of hovering and lot of help to ensure that particular path is walked, all in furtherance of a very limited and narrow definition of “success.”  I come at this issue from the dual vantage points of former university dean and parent of two teenagers, and with great empathy for humans.

I majored in American Studies at Stanford University (1989) and studied law at Harvard (1994). I practiced law in the Bay Area in the 1990s before returning to Stanford to serve in various roles including Dean of Freshmen, a position I created and held for a decade. In my final three years at Stanford I was Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising, and in 2010 I received the university’s Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for “creating the atmosphere that defines the undergraduate experience.” Since leaving Stanford in 2012 I’ve been pursuing an MFA at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

In addition to non-fiction I write creative non-fiction, poetry, short stories, and plays. My work has appeared on TEDx talks and in the Chicago Tribune, Forbes, The New York Times, Slate.com, Time.com, and Huffington Post. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband, our teenagers, and my mother.

[Special thanks to Leslie Brandon at Henry Holt & Co. for this review copy. Discussion questions retrieved from Ms. Lythcott-Haims website].

Write On, Wednesday: Mom, Writer, Traveler Amy Fusselman talks about letting our kids create at parks, even if it’s a little ‘dangerous’ in SAVAGE PARK

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By Leslie Lindsay

I’ll admit it: I hate to play. I think I am bad at it. It’s messy, it’s not always fun and many times it’s very abstract. So after reading Amy Fussleman’s SAVAGE PARK I realize I am not alone. At least from a parent/adult perspective. But not kids. And I now have a better grasp on how to worry less and play more.9780544303003_hres

We’re lucky enough to have Amy with us today to answer a few questions about her latest book, SAVAGE PARK: A Meditation on Play, Space, and Risk for Americans who are Nervous, Distracted, and Afraid to Die (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 13th 2015).

L.L.: Amy, thanks so much for hanging with us today. As I write this, my childrenages 9 and 7 are barking and squawking; they are creating a secret language which they may or may not recall or employ tomorrow. But they are having fun. And I have a moment to write. Which is my fun. Can you describe a bit about your process in writing SAVAGE PARK? Was it really inspired by a spontaneous invitation to Tokyo and subsequent jaunt to Hanegi Playpark?

Amy Fusselman: Thank you for having me, Leslie. Yes, the book was inspired by my trip to Tokyo and to the playpark. I knew I wanted to write something that paid homage to the space. That was my first intention.

L.L.: To be honest, I didnt care about tight-rope walking or banging sticks and nails together, swinging ape-style through a pi-shaped rope in Japan, or baby bath rings till I read SAVAGE PARK, but you *made* me want to care. How and what do you hope readers take away from your book?

Amy Fusselman: Thank you. The book is really meant to encourage and to inspire. I hope that readers find it moving. It’s not a prescription. It’s a book that asks “Why?”

L.L.: So if life is all about living in the moment, how do you explainor get aroundthe busy-ness that is our daily life; do we have to disregard the clock and calendar?

Amy Fusselman:  As fellow mom, I don’t have to tell you that disregarding the clock and the calendar is impossible. But the book is a meditation—and meditation is the practice of being present. One of my favorite things about Savage Park is that it doesn’t seek to add to anyone’s to-do list. It’s a book that I hope will encourage people to think differently.

L.L.: Many of our readers are in the throes of raising young kids. We want the best for them. We hope to give them experiences we never had. But we worry. We shout over our shoulder when we drop them off at school and playdates, Be good! Have fun! While secretly thinking, Dear God, please dont die. Can you speak to that?

Amy Fusselman: In some ways, isn’t it amazing that we ever say anything but “Please don’t die” to our kids? Having children is a risk on every level. For both parents, it’s making yourself open and vulnerable to tremendous fear and love. For mothers, it’s also a physical risk.

One thing I found very compelling about Hanegi Playwark was that it provided a model for a middle ground between those two poles—between “Please don’t die” and “Have fun.” I think that’s the hard part: finding the middle ground.

L.L.: So with all of your musings on parenthood and play, one would think you have a background in child psychology, but you dont. Youre just a mom, an editor, a writer, but you offer a great sounding board on the ways in which we go about life as parents and children. What advice would you give in todays parenting landscape?

Amy Fusselman: Yes, I am not an expert and I embrace that perspective. I write an occasional parenting column for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency called “Family Practice” and I write it as “Dr.” Amy Fusselman. I took on that “doctor” persona, in part, because of what felt to me like the tyranny of doctor/experts and their parenting manuals. So the short answer is that I have no expert parenting advice.

A longer answer is that right now I am very inspired by the work of child psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott, who was, naturally, a pediatrician. His book, Playing and Reality is probably the most important book I have read as a parent although I am not sure it is a parenting book. I recommend that book to people.

L.L.: From reading SAVAGE PARK, your daughter, Katie is so very perceptive especially when she speaks of Norikos [the Japanese playpark curator] baby and her experience with SIDS. I was in complete awe with this little angel of yours. What is Katie like now, and how do you suppose she knew so much about that incident?

Amy Fusselman:I don’t think my kid is unusual. Unique, yes, as every person is, but not unusual. Children, especially very young children, are remarkably perceptive in ways that I think are generally dismissed. Maybe what’s unusual is that instead of dismissing that moment, I recorded it.

I think this is actually relevant to the issue of the playground. A playground that is not connected to the environment, that doesn’t offer a child any ability to change it, or to experience cause and effect, discourages the development of intuition and creativity in a way that seems to me to be pretty common in children’s lives today. Savage Park confronts this.

L.L.: And how is Noriko and her family doing now? What do they think of SAVAGE PARK?

Amy Fusselman:

Noriko gave the book her blessing. I would not have published it otherwise. She and her husband have a new baby girl. I hope they come to visit New York soon.

L.L.: What have I forgotten to ask, that I should have?

Amy Fusselman:

I don’t think you have missed anything! But I want to know: what is this secret language your kids are making up?!

L.L.: How can we learn more about you, about play in America and the Hanegi Playpark. What are some of your very favorite resources?

Amy Fusselman: The International Play Association (ipausa.org) is a fantastic resource. I also love Brian Sutton-Smith’s book, The Ambiguity of Play.

As for me, Savage Park is my third book; I do have other books out: The Pharmacists Mate and 8.

L.L: THANK YOU so much for being with us, Amy. Best wishes you and yours and thanks for allowing me to see play in a different way.

Amy Fusselman: Thank you, Leslie, I enjoyed it.

For More Information on Ms. Fusselman, her work and how to connect, please see:fusselman_amy

Website: www.amyfusselman.com/

Twitter: @AmyFusselman

Bio: Amy Fusselman is the author of The Pharmacist’s Mate and 8. As “doctor” Fussleman, she writes the Family Practice parenting column for McSweeny’s Internet Tendency. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times magazine, Ms., Hairpin, and ARTnews. She lives in New York City.

Write on, Wednesay: Special Guest Heather Shumaker of “It’s OK NOT to Share”

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By Leslie Lindsay It's OK Book cover

Today, I have  very special guest–Heather Shumaker, mom and author of It’s OK NOT to Share (Penguin/Tarcher, 2013).  This brand-new parenting book just hit the shelves this spring and is ranked #3 by Parents Magazine.  Heather and I met at the University of Wisconsin’s Writer’s Institute this past April.   Right away, I knew her message would resonate with me.  And then she graciously agreed to participate in an interview. 

Here, she explains the writing process and some great tips and ideas for parenting.  Best yet–there’s a give-a-way!!  Complimentary copy of IT’s OKAY NOT TO SHARE is coming your way if you are the lucky one whose name is drawn at random.  (See end of post for details).  Without further adieu…

L2:   Loving your book, Heather!  I just started reading it this week—outside—which is so refreshing after the long winter we’ve had here in the Midwest.  Not only is the weather sunny and warm—so is your writing style.  How do you weave in parenting topics in such a fun and joyful way?  At times, I almost forget I am reading…

Heather S.: Ah, thank you.  I developed my tone by working with a team of test readers.  Before the book was published, I gathered a group of willing parents with young children (and grandparents and preschool teachers).  I asked them directly if my style was too preachy or boring or confusing – and they told me!  I am trying to write to you as a friend and as an intelligent, caring reader.

L2: IT’S OK NOT TO SHARE is mostly inspired by two things:  the fact that you couldn’t find a suitable preschool for your own children, 5 year old Zach and 8 year old Myles, and you had fond memories of your alma mater, the School for Young Children (located in Columbus, OH).  Can you tell us a little more about your process of writing from conception to birth [of book]? 

Heather S.:  For years I waited for teachers at the School for Young Children (SYC) to write a book about their program. It’s so unique – for instance, they give kids mini boxing gloves and allow them to stage wrestling matches and other roughhousing games in the classroom.  The teachers there are a devoted group of child professionals, but they’re not writers.  I was able to be the messenger and share the wonder of their philosophy.author and family

I started by interviewing teachers at SYC and deciding which elements of their program were unique (boxing) and which were universal (kids eat a snack).  I chose the topics based on the unusual aspects, the tricky areas of parenting which are controversial or unfamiliar.  Topics like social rejection, weapon play, physical risk-taking, play, artistic expression, sharing and long turns. It’s all based on child development and all backed up with 40 years’ of success.

Then I went the traditional route for publishing, found an agent, sold a book proposal and wrote the book for an imprint of Penguin

L2: Can you share, too how you managed to complete such a wonderful volume of work while raising your kiddos?

Heather S.:  Plus paid childcare.  I worked part-time on the book so I really had to buckle down and work when the daycare clock was ticking.  My kids often provided inspiring quotes or anecdotes, so that was helpful, but as every parent knows, work and raising kids don’t mix easily.  Some days I got up at 4am to meet my chapter deadlines.

L2: Do you think the style of parenting varies from region to region?  For example, are Midwest parenting philosophies similar or different from say, those in New York City or San Francisco versus Santa Fe or New Orleans? 

Heather S.: Family culture varies tremendously, even within a region.  Parents in New York City feel parenting pressure perhaps more intensely than other parents, but there is a wide mix of parenting styles.  What seems to be a growing trend in the US – no matter where you live – is a fear of childhood.  Fear that children’s play isn’t safe or kind enough, fear of what other parents will say, fear that we’re not preparing kids for the tough academics in kindergarten.  It’s not in every family, but many adults are trying to fill childhood’s empty days and accelerate stages of development.

L2: Renegade Rules are a cornerstone of IT’S OK NOT TO SHARE, can you tell us what you think the most important Renegade Rule is and why? 

Heather S.: The book shares 29 renegade rules, but the overarching rule is what I call the Renegade Golden Rule: “It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property.”  This helps you know when to set a limit on a child’s behavior and when to relax and find a way to allow their play.  Finding the right balance in setting limits is the key to parenting.

Besides the “Golden” rule, I do think my two favorites are the title rule, It’s OK Not to Share (so easy to implement, kids love it and you can abdicate your job as constant judge and referee!) and Only Punch Your Friends (a celebration of roughhousing and its enormous benefits).   [Gotta plug Heather’s YouTube video series where you can witness Renegade Rules in action with real kids.  They’re short, less than 1-minute and offer great inight.  See end of post for direct links]

L2: While the book is mostly geared towards younger children (ages 3-6 years), what—or how—can parents adapt your philosophies to fit older children, or even teenagers?  Maybe that’s a whole other book?! 

I haven’t found an upper age-limit.  My neighbor uses the book’s techniques on her college-aged children.  Others use them on their spouses.  Many ideas are basic ones about conflict mediation, communication and healthy emotional expression – ideas that can apply to all ages.

L2: Speaking of which, can we expect to see more from you in the future? 

Heather S.: More books are in the works – though the one I’m working on right now is fiction.  A ghost story for 8-12 year olds.

Thank you, thank you Heather!  Much informative and insightful! 

The Teacher is Talking:  Saying Bye Bye to Binky

You don’t really want to let this great parenting book slip through your hands, do you?  I didn’t think so!  To enter the drawing for a complimentary copy of IT’s OK NOT TO SHARE, all you need to do is comment on the blog or drop me a line at leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com.  A random name will be drawn Monday, May 20th by 5pm.  You will be contacted by email if you are the winner.  Open to U.S. residents only.  Good luck! 

You can find more of Heather, her Renegade Rules and It’s OK NOT to Share by heading over to her website –  www.heathershumaker.com,  author portrait Heather Shuamker

Bio –  Heather Shumaker is the author of It’s OK Not to Share…and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids (Tarcher/ Penguin, 2012), named one of the Best Parenting Books of 2012 by Parents magazine.  You can learn more, watch videos and read a free sample chapter at www.heathershumaker.com.

The Teacher is Talking: The Whole Brain Child

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By Leslie Lindsay

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson (image retrieved from Amazon.com on 8.7.12)

I don’t know about you but I have about had it with summer vacation.  It’s not the heat or the long days that is driving me wild, it’s the constant fussing and bickering that comes from the tiny redheaded girls who call me mom.  So when I learned about this new parenting book, THE WHOLE BRAIN CHILD by Daniel J. Siegel, MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD I figured it couldn’t hurt. 

The book promises you will be able “survive everyday parenting struggles and help your family thrive.”  I nodded in appreciation and flipped open the binding, inhaling that new-book smell I adore.  The audience: parents of children birth to 12 years.  It covers 12 basic principles a parent or devoted caregiver can give a child to help them become better at managing their own emotions, thus beoming a more well-balanced child.  Again, I nod in appreciation. 

Left Brain Right Brain Illustration

 

(this s NOT the diagram from the book.  Rather I found this on my own at http://www.cartoonaday.com/left-brain-right-brain-illustration/

The first section of the book is really focused on brain science.  Don’t get me wrong:  it’s not boring or hard to follow.  In fact, I really like the whimsical illustrations the artist uses to depict the brain:

The LEFT side (hemisphere) is loaded with graphics like crossword puzzles, math facts, and pondering children (“hummm…wonder if they can prove that?”).  More on the left side:  loves order and lists, it is logical, literal, linguistic, and linear (puts things in order or sequence). 

While the RIGHT side is a little more “floaty” with dancers, artists, and thinkers (holistic and nonverbal, facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, posture, and gestures, big picture specialists, emotions, memories, and the feeling of an experience) Sure, it’s a bit of a stereotype, but hey–that’s what it’s really all about. 

So, here’s the idea:  toddlers often use their right brain most (reacting to emotions–meltdown, anyone?) and later the left brain kicks in (no, I won’t share this with you.  It’s mine!  Or, the endless questioning of “Why?”).  By the time your kiddo is successfully doing both, you can be rest-assured that he does indeed have two hemispheres.  The problem is, they aren’t always working in tandem.  That’s where you, dependable caregiver comes in. 

Here’s what I am thinking:  I will highlight the 12 strategives in this book over the next two Tuesdays.  Next week, we’ll cover 1-6 and the following week, 6-12.  There will be a lot I won’t be able to share with you because this book is chock-full of great graphics, charts, etc.  So, if you think you’re going to like this book–and really, what’s not to like–I suggest you get your own copy at your local library or bookstore.  I got mine at Amazon. 

And in the meantime, I will see if it works at decreasing the summer bickerfest at my house…

For now, class dismissed! 

For more information on the Whole Brain Child, see their website at: http://www.wholebrainchild.com/

 

A Little Literacy, Please: Alice Wonders about Science & Fiction

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By Leslie Lindsay

You have probably heard of her, too.  Alison Gopnik, a world-renown developmental psychologist who studied at the University of Oxford and now teaches at the University of California-Berkeley has penned such parenting books as The Scientist in the Crib (Harper, 2000) and The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life (Picador, 2010)

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What you might not know is her favorite childhood books were Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.  As an empirical developmental psychologist, it was no wonder  (ha) that Ms. Gopnik identified with Alice’s character.  “I was Alice”  I shared her name, long hair, and dreamy absentmindedness.  I had a preference for logic and imagination over common sense.  I too, was bewildered by the blindness of grown-ups, esxpecially their failure to recognize that children were smarter than they were.” 

Alison Gopnik continues to explain in All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book (Roaring Book Press, 2009) that Alice in Wonderland is the link between logic and imagination, and between those two entities is the time period we all refer to as “childhood.”  It is through our unique ability to understand our world by creating theories, the same as we do when we fall into the fictional world of a book.

Lewis Carroll originally published Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland in 1865.  It nearly immediately made itself a cultural icon, and has never been out-of-print.  The book originated when Charles Dodgson took the Lindell children on a boat trip.  One of those children, Alice Lindell begged him to write down the saga.  And so he did, choosing the pen name Lewis Carroll.  The the zany tale of Alice falling down the rabbit hole, where her world is literally turned upside down, we see how these books not only challenge logic, but exemplify childhood imagination.

Check out my guest blog post today, “Through a Mother’s Eyes: Childhood Apraxia of Speech” on ChildTalk, www.talkingkids.org hosted by Becca Jarzynski, CCC-SLP of Wisconsin.