Parenting Adults

When someone had a baby I used to always write in the card, “congratulations on your future teenager!” It seemed so fitting to me. By my mid teens the studies that emerged from my accident lead me to the conclusion that our personalities were little more than thought patterns, and while they were changeable their direction was fundamentally established quite early in life.

769 Relax and Succeed - Hardship often preparesThis is not to say we can’t become so conscious that we can’t make course alterations but the paradox is this: once you’re that aware–that conscious–then you don’t want to be anyone else. You accept that enjoying the experience of this universe means you have to choose a point of view. You have to be someone. The trick is to be that person but not take that life’s challenges as failures. Those aren’t failures–they’re just the steps required to live that life.

No matter how you parent your children there will be a yin and yang to their experience. If you’re open-minded and teach them to be, then they’ll struggle more with close-minded people than people who grew up in more combative, competitive or contrary households. If you’re very successful and functioning well above average in many areas of life, then your child may be stressed by their very normal levels of performance. Rather than enjoy their life they may strive for one that appears more impressive. So there is no point in trying to parent the right way. Every way has consequences that go every possible direction.

The most useful thing a parent can do is remember that they only have one job: to teach a child all the things they will need to know to be able to live without the parent. So don’t think about behaviour as being good or bad. Ask yourself what wiring your child’s brain will need to deal with a situation. If every time they struggle you assist them, they will be very weak when they must face any of life’s normal struggles. If their complaints of boredom are always met with offers of distraction then they be distracted, poorly motivated adults.

769 Relax and Succeed - If you wish to moveI liked hanging around the teachers I’ve worked with who were self-aware, who truly cared about the kids and who were always so generous with their wisdom. I learned a lot from them. But everyone had the same sense. That we felt the recent groups of kids had the same potential to be brilliant, but that they were all stifled by a very noticeable discomfort with making their own decisions. They seemed to guess far more than use critical thinking to draw their own conclusions, and they seemed more interested in symbols than principle. So they were more focused on their grade than their own sense of whether or not they grew. This effect increased quite strongly year over year.

The reason for this is very simple. People want to sell you things like guns or alarms or locks or insurance, and the news needs you to stay for the ads, so they show you lots of scary stories, and it’s convinced you that our very safe world is somehow much more dangerous than it really is. This false belief then creates over-protection which leads to the underdevelopment of the fundamental skills of character. What’s missing is the parent’s understanding of how truly incredible their child is.

Parents have been taught by advertising culture to constantly look at their lives for what’s missing. Because of this they live within a zeitgeist of defeat. This transfers to their childrearing and the result is like taking the notion of original sin and putting it on steroids. People feel they’re fundamentally not enough and they worry or stress their lives apart by trying to be someone other than who they are. You don’t need to be anyone else. Just be yourself in a state of mind where you love the world. That’s all the development you need.

769 Relax and Succeed - Life is like a cameraWhen I heard the brilliant interview (below) I was thrilled. Julie Lythcott-Haims was Stanford University’s Dean of Freshman and she too noticed the trend I referred to above. Her new book How to Raise an Adult lead to a recent radio interview that is worth any parent’s time. Parents are stressing themselves too much when in fact what they should be doing is far less.

I really love the world. But if anyone asks me if there’s anything I would change it’s only that I wish a much larger percentage of people would own how incredibly capable and strong and creative and courageous the core of every human being is. We always save our best for when things are at their absolute worst. I would like to see us to look less at some of humanity’s mistakes–those are very well documented. I would like is all to remember the remarkable achievements of humans as individuals and as a species.

We have good reason to believe in ourselves. And we have good reason to believe in the young people of this world.  It’s time we unleashed that potential by trading our fearful thoughts of what might go wrong, for thrilling thoughts about what might go right.

Have a wonderful day.

Interview: How to Raise an Adult vs Helicopter Parenting

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Other Perspectives #56

626 OP1 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Other Perspectives #56

Do you see that if you do something just because someone told you that you couldn’t, that you’ve still let them control your actions? This is why teenagers often come into conflict. A very low percentage of them will be aware of the fact that in their brain’s attempt to feign independence (no happy person is every truly independent), all they are doing is simply the opposite of their parents, teachers, coach whatever. They have no choice but to just choose the opposite because they are too young to have any nuanced references on what all of their choices must even be—and so they start at the only place they can—the opposite of whatever their oh-so-uncool parents would choose. And so if you want to be like the relatively short Martin St. Louis, and win the Most Valuable Player in the series that wins your team the championship, then that’s great because you’re using another person’s opinion to motivate you to achieve a goal that’s yours. But if you’re just doing it because you were told not to then that is what immaturity still looks like. If you want to know just how different the world can be just do some travelling. And if you’re too young for that, just start dating. If you’re in North America you’ll know something’s up as soon as Thanksgiving rolls around and you learn that your date’s Mom puts (or doesn’t put) raisins in the stuffing. Dating is usually the first real comparison we get they helps us understand how individualized the culture in each family actually is. So we don’t want to choose things just because they’re the opposite of what another person would choose, but we do want to become aware of as many of our choices as possible so that we can use all of the wisdom gained by all the world to help you find your way to the source of deep and abiding peace. Have a wonderful week!

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

The Friday Dose #51

600 Relax and Succeed - Life is a song

Wow, neat stuff in the Dose today. Let’s start off talking about teens. While the brain is always changeable, it’s important to remember that the brain hasn’t even finished building its physical structures until you’re in your mid to late 20’s. And those structures get built by the very experimentation that works fine in a jungle with a tribe, but it can create havoc in a modern teen as they try to accomplish those social experiments within rigid, quasi-Victorian social structures like schools and clocks etc. The very next day another scientist purported to disagree with this, but then he actually spent his entire interview presenting the very same ideas, just in his own way. I’ll admit I’m phrasing this introduction this way because I want to tease any teens that might read it, but hey parents; when you’re talking to a teenager or judging their behaviour, you really do have to remember that you’re literally speaking with someone who’s only got half a brain. 😉 :

The Current on The Teenage Brain

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I’ve spent my life studying how people store information and ideas in the brain because it’s combinations of those patterns that determine our behaviour and personality. One of the key concerns I’ve had about things like dating sites etc. is that they create a new idea within the framework of dating. There’s always been the saying there’s always more fish in the sea, but that was said if a relationship went bad and the person was single. Now people jump on Match.com or Plenty of Fish like it’s a Kijiji for dating. Don’t like this one, trade it in for that one. And because everyone’s watched edited shows all their life there is this belief that a perfect life is possible. And so people waffle around trying to find the perfect life and in doing so they throw away what are otherwise perfectly good lives. This combines nicely with the posting entitled, Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice, which features an enlightening TED Talk. But before you look at that give this a read and think about sharing it to anyone you know under 30.

This Is How We Date Now

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I’m not sure how I stumbled onto it, but a while back Lifehack put up a great list of eight things happy people do. If you read my blog nothing on the list will surprise you, but I’m not super big on lists so if you like things presented as concise encapsulations of larger concepts this is a good example. And I’m actually all for it because the shorter something is the more it has to focus on the essence of the subject and that’s the most important part. It’s why poetry is considered writings highest art. Everything is winnowed away but essence. So without further ado, I give you the essence of happiness:

8 Things Happy People Do

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And let’s close off with some big fun. If you live anywhere north you know the days are short and the weather’s normally cold so let’s brighten winter up with a little fun. I love it when someone comes up with an idea to meld one thing with another in such a way that both things end up better. This is a fantastic idea for a video and I’m glad so many people got to have such a ridiculously good time making it. If you want to cheer yourself up just focus closely on these people’s faces when they figure out what’s going on. It’s just plain fun. Enjoy:

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You have yourself an awesome weekend. And be kind to you.

peace. s

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The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help. Enjoy.