Win a Winner!
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Berlitz Summer Camp
There’s no controlling what your adult kids will do, as evidenced by my skydiving son, Kyle. When they’re young, take time to empower kids with good decision-making lessons. (He did his research to ensure the company was experienced and certified, an
by Vivien Santana Hughes
I’ve have the privilege of interviewing everyone from authors and artists (Jan Brett, Bruce Eric Kaplan) to philanthropists (Margaret Martin, Noreen Fraser), the wacky creators of Yo Gabba Gabba! to ordinary people doing extraordinary things (like the adoptive parents of seven foster kids), Hollywood celebs (Jack Black, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith) to L.A. legends, including TreePeople’s Andy Lipkis and Bob Baker of marionette fame.
Then, my baby boy jumped out of an airplane. (Before you rush to call Children and Family Services, note that said “baby boy” is a 22-year-old young man.) And I realized a compelling interview subject was living right under my roof.
It struck me that parents today spend so much time and energy protecting their kids, that they may actually be hurting them by shielding them from important life experiences (skydiving not included!). As a mom who has already raised two sons to adulthood, I can attest that there’s not much you can do to shelter your older offspring (it starts with college – think Spring Break). So, all the better for them to get some life lessons out of the way when you’re there on the front lines. In the words of my thrill-seeking son, Kyle, “Parents just need to relax.”
Here are a few tips from a recent child and the mother of two adults (so far):
When Kyle was in first grade, he insisted on setting up a cookies and cocoa stand in the popular area where our city’s Rose Parade float is decorated. We bought the goods but kept our distance and let him run it all himself. He worked hard but didn’t turn much of a profit, yet kept at it year after year. “Let your kids be independent and experience life through the eyes of their generation,” says Kyle, now, not surprisingly, a business major and entrepreneur. “This will make your kids more well-rounded and prepared to deal with their own life-changing decisions.”
Kids learn more from losing than winning.
When he was a second grader, Kyle was named Cougar Kid, a monthly citizenship recognition for one child from each grade (kind of like “Employee of the Month”) at his elementary school. Many students, including his older brother, were not. They got over it and learned that not everyone wins. In the years since, apparently, parents complained that their kids weren’t selected, so the school no longer has Cougar Kids. Instead they hold a random monthly drawing, a program that “doesn’t give kids anything to strive for,” notes Kyle.
Let them know you support them, even if they make mistakes.
“With allowing that independence still comes a need to show them you are there for them when times get rough,” says Kyle. Like when he didn’t do his high school math homework for a few weeks and then had to face his teacher. “You will never win all the battles,” says Kyle, “but try and teach them how to learn from their own mistakes.” As I can say from experience, this requires a painful biting of the tongue to avoid saying I told you so. Trust me, one day they’ll admit you were right.
Give your kids room to spread their wings.
Don’t worry, they don’t always take that literally.
Vivien Santana Hughes is a former L.A. Parent editor and the mother of three – one university grad, one in college and (surprise!) a 7-year-old daughter – all with her very patient husband of 29 years.
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