On April 26 the Safe Community Coalition and The Potomac School co-hosted a presentation by Julie Lythcott-Haims entitled “Throw Out the Checklisted Childhood: Tips and Strategies for Raising Successful Kids.” Former Stanford dean and New York Times bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims explained why our culture of over-parenting is hurting our children and making them ill-equipped for adulthood.
In her presentation to parents, Julie illustrated the myriad ways that overparenting is damaging our kids, our relationships and our communities. She pointed out that our kids are anxious, depressed, self-harming, starving themselves and attempting (sometimes completing) at killing themselves. Julie discussed the research on overparenting and how it contributes to an increase in depression and anxiety with a decrease in executive functioning skills. Julie noted that overparenting takes on three forms: overprotection, fierce direction, and excessive hand holding. According to a study by Terri Lemoyne and Tom Buchanan, Julie shared in her How to Raise an Adult book, students with parents who “hover” or “helicopter” are more likely to be medicated for anxiety and/or depression. Julie pointed out that our children need to go through trial and error–and yes, fail–in order to develop agency (“I can”) and resilience (“I can cope”).
During her two visits Julie has gained a strong understanding of the challenges and concerns of the McLean community, and she was inspired to create for McLean a list of recommendations for parents to follow to prevent the harms of overparenting. She termed this list a 12 Step Parent Pledge which she urged the parents in attendance to adopt and to encourage their peers to heed as well. (Julie has since refined the Parent Pledge and sent out her newsletter explaining how she came to it.)