Can the Good-enough Parent Demand Mastery?

Great vs. Excellent

Last week when I wrote that trying to be a “superior parent” is crazy, I seem to have been like the little boy who said: “The emperor has no clothes.” The idea that if children get only the three things they need (love, respect as a decision maker, and accurate feedback) they will turn out just fine hasn’t been said much. Once said, however, almost everyone nodded, cheered, or breathed a sigh of relief. Striving to be “The Best Parent I Can Be” is driving parents crazy.

What about our children? Should they be striving “to be the best they can be?” Continue reading

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“Superior Parenting?” That’s Crazy Talk. Children Need Only 3 Things.

Years ago, I was standing in the back yard of my uncle’s house talking to my cousin. “I feel like I messed up my kids,” I said.

“Oh, Ricky, Don’t you know? We all mess up our kids. It’s all set up that way.”

I was an educator, who by then had known about a thousand parents, and was experienced enough to know that she was right. However for me, the Dad, I needed to be reminded that there is no way to do the job of parenting “right.”

Since then I have seen about three thousand more parents in all situations, and I still know that she was right. Three of my four children have children, and I watch with admiration how they raise my five grandchildren. I also watch the “mistakes” they are making, and I am smart enough to keep my mouth shut. Anyway, just look at them. They are terrific. My cousin was right.

So when Amy Chua came out in the Wall Street Journal ten days ago claiming that Chinese mothers are “Superior,” Continue reading

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Playing Position around Homework

When two players on the same team both “go for the ball,” one of them is often “out of position.” When a parent says, “We had a little trouble with our homework last night,” someone is out of position. Continue reading

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What Parents Really Need?

Except from Chapter 1 of The Genius in Children: Bringing out the Best in Your Child:

Dear Rick,

As a mom, I often feel that I am hanging on by my fingertips. I’ll tell you why I don’t read the how-to books on parenting: It’s because I can’t parent with one hand and have the recipe book in the other. I need both hands, and sometimes both feet. Actually, most of the time I need my whole body and my mind and my heart focused on my children. I am pouring everything that is me into all that they are. When I get into bed, I have gone to bed because I can’t stay awake anymore, so I am not going to read myself to sleep with a good book telling me all the rules of parenting I violated today. I also don’t need some guy (or woman either) telling me what to do.

As the mother of a seven-year-old and a two-year-old, my secret parenting self-medication <!–more–>when I am feeling confused and overwhelmed is discovering that there are others out there going through the exact same thing. That is why I am addicted to The Nanny and Shalom in the Home. I love hearing about the bad behaviors and how they are resolved. I am craving reminders about why I am doing this and that I am not alone.

That’s why I like your articles. In this era of “helicopter” parenting and the expectations we place on our kids, hearing the principal’s point of view is terrific. Since the parents are the original and the best teachers of our kids, how do we teach well? We know how to love ’em; how do we make ’em resilient and brave? Especially now that my oldest is off at school. It is different being the parent of a child away, and there isn’t much on the subject.

Thanks. Keep writing.


Is this how it feels for you? How is it different?