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Breaking Free of the Overparenting Trap

Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of the best-selling book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap, has a popular TED talk video on what she calls the "checklisted childhoods." Here's her description of the checklisted childhood:

We keep [our children] safe, and sound, and fed, and watered. And then we want to be sure they go to the right schools, but not just that—that they're in the right classes at the right schools and that they get the right grades in the right classes in the right schools—but not just the grades, the scores—and not just the grades and scores, but the accolades, and the awards, and the sports, and the activities and the leadership. And so because so much is required, we think, well, then, of course, we parents have to argue with every teacher, and principal, and coach, and referee, and act like our kids' concierge, and personal handler, and secretary.
And then with our kids, we spend so much time nudging, cajoling, hinting, helping, haggling, nagging, as the case may be, to be sure they're not screwing up, not ruining their future. And in the checklisted childhood, we say we just want them to be happy. But when they come home from school, what we ask about all too often first is their homework and their grades. And they see in our faces that our approval, that our love, that their very worth comes from A's. And then we walk alongside them and offer clucking praise like a trainer at the Westminster dog show.

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