Allowing our children to make mistakes is one of the greatest challenges of parenting. Yet, most parents continue to question their parenting skills often feeling that they are either “over protective,” or are failing to give their child enough support and guidance and might categorize their parenting style as “permissive.”
An article by Madeline Levine in the August 4th issue of the “New York Times Sunday Review” is a must read.
Ms. Levine’s article however, “Raising Successful Children,” is, in our opinion, improperly titled. While not certain what constitutes “success” in child rearing, we can state with some certainty that every child is different and what might be considered “success” for one child and family can be different for another. Nonetheless, the article does a wonderful job of helping parents recognize the value of balance and allowing their child the process of self-discovery. This article helps parents to review what amount of parent involvement may work for their child.
If there is such a being as an “optimal parent,” when it comes to parenting, studies have found that a parent who is involved and responsive, communicating and setting high expectation levels, yet respecting the child’s autonomy, may have discovered the “sweet spot” of parental involvement.
Typically, these are considered “authoritative parents.” Their children seem to do better academically, psychologically and socially than those whose parents are either less involved and permissive (under-protective) or who are “controlling” and too involved (over-protective).
In the end, parental “success” might be defined as guiding their child so that they develop a sense of self that is autonomous, confident, grounded, and in touch with their own reality. Ms. Levine encourages parents to make sure that step one is to mirror a version of adult life that appeals to their child and they would see worth striving for.