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Friday, June 12, 2015

How to Raise An Adult

I received a copy of How to Raise an Adult to provide an honest review.  
Visit HowToRaiseAnAdult.com to purchase your copy of the book.
I remember being left at home at such a young age. I was allowed to cook simple meals, and roam around the neighborhood until just before dusk when I was a kid. I learned to do and make decisions for myself early on, and grew up to be quite independent. But this was moreso by force, in my opinion, not so much because it was my mother's parenting style. My mother worked a lot, I was the oldest and we often struggled financially; so I believe helping out where I could was necessary to help lighten her load. 

When I became an adult, I remember thinking that I'd raise my child so differently. Then I had a child and realized that I wanted her to be able to do for herself; to be a lot like I was then. I wouldn't want her to deal with some of the worries and trials that I had to battle growing up, yet I wanted her to be able to problem solve, think critically, and do her own laundry, for crying out loud. 

When I started to read How to Raise an Adult, I knew I'd find some things that I could improve upon as a parent but I didn't realize how intriguing and spot on it would be. The statistics included are eye-opening; from our misconception about the safety of the world today to our thoughts about college admissions and what's required to get into a "good" school.  For instance, the author states that "we perceive that our nation is a more dangerous place, yet the data shows that the rates of child abduction are no higher, and by many measures are lower, than ever before."  I'm almost certain the increase in awareness, through the media, cell phones and social media has a lot to do with this misconception. 

The goal of the book is to help one see how they might be overparenting, how our intentions (although good) may actually be a hindrance to our child's growth, success and independence, and how we can go about raising a child that's ready to take on and thrive in the world on their own. 

"Too many of us do some combination of overdirecting, overprotecting, or over-involving ourselves in our kids' lives.  We treat our kids like rare and precious botanical specimens and provide deliberate, measured amount of care and feeding while running interference on all that might toughen and weather them.  But humans need some degree of weathering in order to survive the larger challenges life will throw our way.  Without experiencing the rougher spots of life, our kids become exquisite, like orchids, yet are incapable, sometimes terribly incapable, of thriving in the real world on their own.  Why did parenting change from preparing our kids for life to protecting them from life....?"

Five pages into the book, I found myself asking parents I knew what they thought about letting their children play outside in their community alone and when they'd be comfortable leaving their children at home alone. Most parents I questioned felt that by age 14 or so they MIGHT be comfortable with letting their children do these things. They feared something would happen to them, someone might hurt or kidnap them or that they wouldn't be responsible enough to handle these tasks alone.  I was blown away. 

Even beyond that, from a life skills development standpoint, I've gotten some pushback from folks on how I allow Madison to do certain things that "maybe she's not ready for"; from sorting her laundry that needs washing and putting it away, to helping me cook regularly. She's eager to do these things at this age, by the way, and I'm constantly having to state that children are capable of far more than we give them credit for. On the other hand, I've also had people tell me that my three year old already knows how to do more for herself than some teenagers, and that's truly sad.

The author, Julie Lythcott-Haims, has so many great points in this book and I couldn't agree more with her thought process.  We're not allowing our children the freedom needed to learn responsibility and build confidence in themselves and their decisions. We overparent when we don't allow them to pick up after themselves. We overparent when we're constantly reminding them of their responsibilities; "do your homework, clean your room, get your things ready for practice". We overparent when we do those things for them! When we don't parent in a way that allows children to think and do for themselves, and teach them life skills, we're setting them up for a lifetime of dependence that won't serve them well in college, at work, or in life, in general! 

"One of the key life skills our children must develop, after all, is the ability to live without us."

How to Raise an Adult includes so many practical, effective ways that we can go about releasing the reins we have on our children, and allow them to develop into independent adults. One of my favorite chapters in the book, Teach Life Skills, includes a strategy to do just that:
  • First we do it for you,
  • Then we do it with you,
  • Then we watch you do it,
  • Then you do it completely independently.
So simple, yet strategic and powerful!  Take a few minutes to listen to Julie provide four quick tips on the subject as well:


And guess what?!  A reduction in overparenting allows us, the parents, to live our own lives; which is such a healthy model for our children. Plus, when you think about it, overparenting can be stressful. It forces us to take on more responsibilities as we end up living our children's lives for them versus forcing them to cultivate a path for themselves.

With that said, I'm making more changes to relinquish my overparenting tendencies now. After I took the top photo in this post, I wanted to sit and play with Madison. I wanted to keep a hawk-eye on her to ensure she didn't get snatched up by a predator, or treated unfairly by another child. I forced myself to have a seat! I sat, I read a book, and I listened. I'm certain I'll always listen. I heard her as she complimented another child on her shoes, "I like your shoes!, then introduced herself, "I'm Madison Pharr, what's your name?", and shared her toys. I always chuckle at how formal she is by stating her full name! I even listened as she resolved a conflict on her own when another child snatched one of her toys; taking it back saying, "that's not nice."  I desperately wanted to step in in that moment.  But I'm glad I showed restraint. I didn't realize how developed her skills are already. Did I mention she's three?! Now I realize that she can play, interact and handle herself without me hovering and supervising. What makes me even more excited is the fact that this will free me up to read more during these trips to the park.  Yes, I just made this about me! Y'all know how much I love to read!

At the end of the day, there isn't a one way fits all when it comes to parenting.  It's all about doing what works best for you and your family.  No matter your style of parenting, I encourage you to grab a copy of How to Raise an Adult and think about ways in which you might be overparenting. I, for one, would like to find a balance between my helicopter tendencies and the free-range parenting model.  I also wouldn't mind getting back to the "it takes a village to raise a child" approach as well.

Who's with me?! Let's prepare our children for the future by raising them to be independent, contributing individuals to society. Let's discuss how we can raise an adult!

P.S. I'd love to add this to your nightstand or 'to be read' pile! Enter below to win a copy of this informative book!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


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38 comments

  1. I'd read this book! It hits home with me as a Montessori teacher--and how important independence is! It's also been a bit of a struggle as my son has Down syndrome, but I tried/try to follow this type of parenting (and Montessori) so he can learn for himself. Having said that, he gave me a lot of heart attacks, like the other day when he disappeared (in five seconds!) at the grocery store! (He's ten, and could probably shop alone, but OMG, LOL!)

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    1. Yes, Lisa, I'm a huge fan of Montessori myself and love the independence it promotes. I can't imagine the challenges you face as a mother when it comes to instilling independence in your son; it's so very important no matter the conditions. The book actually hits on some of the styles used to teach children with special needs, and how effective they are in teaching independence.

      And, please, don't get me started on how I lose my mind when I think I've lost my child in a public place. I act like a mad women, and it's never been that serious, LOL!!!

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  2. I agree with your review completely. I have two teen/tween boys and I leave them at home alone, allow them to cook for themselves, give them plenty of responsibilities so they learn to manage their time and money bc I want them to be strong independent adults when they go off to college. This book will go on my reading list. More parents should read this. We have way too many helicopter parents in this generation.

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    1. YES, Alison! That's exactly it! Our children have to be able to function once they leave the nest. I job is to ensure that is the case by showing them how throughout life, not just when the time comes. I really do hope this book catches on and that more and more parents learn to let go a bit and teach their children to be self-sufficient!

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  3. What a great review! The book sounds fantastic. I really need to incorporate some of those ideas and back off my kids a little. I want them to be more independent. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It really is, Shann, I enjoyed every bit of the book! Good luck in the giveaway!

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  4. This is excellent. I too have a young daughter and I was raised very similar to you. I was left home alone at the age of five. Being a stay-at-home mom I don't think she will be home alone often. But I do still make her do most things for her self. If she needs something I am trying to teach her to come to me instead of just sitting there crying or to as my husband says I have coined "figure it out".

    This post brings up a lot of social issues that are currently going on at the moment. I live on a military base in another country. Here it is completely acceptable to let your child as young as three play at the play ground by themselves. But if we were to go back to the states I don't think I would even consider the idea of letting my child until the age of maybe ten play by herself at a playground. I think it's up to the community, the parents and the law to decide on what is best for our children. Even if they don't align.

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    1. I am right there with you, Trisha! I'm all about trying to get my daughter to think and figure things out. And, yes, society definitely plays a role in how we go about parenting. In some ways the community, laws make sense, in some ways they do not.

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  5. I love this! too many parents don't let their kids make mistakes, which as we all know how kids learn. My mother used to always do things for me growing up instead of letting me make mistakes, that I think It definitely had a negative effect on me.

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    1. OMG, yes, Channing! Mistakes are critical, and it would serve them better if we let them learn a lesson or two now versus in the "real world". I didn't realize at the time how helpful my upbringing (i.e., very independent) was. I can definitely see how it's shaped and molded me and given me such incredible drive to do for myself.

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  6. You cover so many great points in the book about overparenting. It's always hard as a parent to draw the line between being protective and giving them freedom to make decisions for themselves. Definitely something to think about.

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    1. I so agree! The book was very eye-opening and had me feeling like I'm doing well in some areas and not so well in others. Very thought-provoking, for sure!

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  7. My son is 28 and has his own child now. I do believe that I didn't over-parent. He's a college graduate with a good job and is quite responsible. Although, they do have my 2 1/2 year old grandson, and I'd like to gift this book to them so they may get some guidance and advice. :)

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    1. That's so awesome to hear, Natalie! I wish you the best of luck in this giveaway. I know how it can be as first time parents, we tend to overparent nowadays for sure.

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  8. I am the biggest over parenting mom ever! I think i need to pick up this book to get a few tips

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    1. Lol! No worries, Janella, you are not alone!

      This book is so very eye-opening. I do hope you get a chance to read it, and that it helps to give you a different perspective in regards to how you go about parenting.

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  9. this post has so much truth....sometimes as parents we tend to over-nurture

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    1. Yes, yes, yes, Sacha! It's definitely in our nature to nurture. I hope this book gives parents a different perspective and helps them to draw the line between nurturing and enabling dependency.

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  10. This book sounds incredibly interesting. Definitely going to add this one to my list!

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    1. It's so great, Jessica! There are definitely things that I feel like I"m doing well, yet there are a ton of things that I can improve upon and possibly even some fears (and a bit of control) that I should probably let go.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

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  11. Excellent article! That book is going on my book wish list. I was never left home alone until I was almost a senior in high school, neither was my husband. Our parents DEFINITELY over-parented and it shows in how we are raising her. It's almost like we live in fear. As we are walking through the park I let her run ahead, my husband does not. I have to coax him into letting her hand go and allowing her to roam. Bless his heart! Now allowing her to play alone outside with out either of us... yeah, pray for us. Lol!

    Like Miss Maddie, Harper has chores. She sorts our laundry, cleans her room and the downstairs play area every night before bed, helps cook,and unloads her dishes out of the dishwasher. I've considered making her a chore chart, just a visual reminder so that I am not constantly verbally reminding her.

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    1. Rondra-

      I think we may all have areas where we're pretty good at not overparenting and areas that may need a little (or lot) of work.

      I'm pretty nervous myself about eventually letting Madison and my other children (Lord willing) roam the neighborhood alone. But the crazy thing is, I see children that appear to be about 5 - 14 years old roaming our neighborhood ALL the time, and I don't think anything of it.

      There is a lake and a park within walking distance of our house. These kids are out playing, walking to the park, sitting by the lake, riding their bike and again, I don't even question it. Yet, I find myself thinking I could never let Madison do the same. Just thinking about that lake is giving me anxiety right now! The fear is real!!!

      I pray that when she gets a little older that I have the strength and confidence in her to let her grow up playing outside and running around the neighborhood with the other children. I pray the same for you and yours as well!

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  12. I think I'm doing a little bit of both. I'm overprotective but I'm trying to be a little less protective.

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    1. Same here, Julie, same here. Finding the "perfect" balance is a challenge, for sure!

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  13. I think with my first born I was definitely over parenting him but became more confident and relaxed as he got older and I figured out motherhood. Now I'm for sure raising an adult.

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    1. Lamesha, I think it's very easy to overparent your first. I find myself loosing up as my daughter is getting older, but I was definitely a helicopter parent in the beginning. I can totally see myself being pretty relaxed with the next child!

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  14. I would like to read this book, I tend to do to much for my children

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    1. I think a lot of us do without even realizing it, Michelle! I wish you look in the giveaway :)!

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  15. This book sounds awesome! All of the quotes you have included here are right on!

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    1. Thanks, KayMil! There were so, so many good quotes to choose from. Such a great book!

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  16. I LOVE this. Love it.

    I don't have children, but I do work with a lot of kids every summer (Bible Camp!). It's amazing to me the difference between kids who are so dependent on parents or adults and the ones who can make their own fun and are responsible for themselves. I think Camp is a really great way to allow kids to do things "by themselves" in a safe environment!

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    1. Thanks, Ally!

      It's crazy how you can basically tell what the parents parenting style is based on how their children are when they are away from them. I so love the idea of camps yet I can see myself wanting to overparent (i.e., checking in too much) while my children are there, lol. Hopefully, I'll have a better handle on my urges to overparent by the time my daughter starts attending camps regularly :)!

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  17. This is how I have tried to raise my children. But I definitely still overparent in some areas. It's a tough balance!

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    1. I agree, Lara. I feel like I am pretty good about teaching life skills and raising my child to be independent. However, there are definitely areas that I can improve upon as well. I'm sure that will be the case throughout my parenting journey. A tough balance, indeed!

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  18. I love this sooo much! I have been a helicopter parent and as my kids are getting older realizing I have to just let go. Adding this to my to read list!

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    1. Yes! Same here, Alicia. It can be difficult at times but it's so necessary!

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  19. Great read. I agree. My now has has been doing chores and laundry etc on his own since he was 8-9 years old along with a bit of freedom when it came to hanging out with friends I really know about and even staying home for an hour alone when I ran errands and he didnt' want to go lol. He was pretty mature for his age so I trusted him. I never had any issues or problems with him. Thank God! I make sure I keep him busy with sports once sports is over he will be getting a part time job. He is a little late with cooking but I have started him on cooking meals on his own. He def needs some work in the kitchen lol.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! I read and cherish each and every one and do my very best to respond to all in a timely manner.

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