Happy. Healthy. Southie.
Supportive and non-judgmental advice from SBCHC's health experts.
What I’m Reading
By: Kim Harrison
Just when I wasn’t looking for it, the title “Gist: The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids” by Michael Anderson and Tim Johanson, popped up on my Hoopla (my public library’s digital borrowing service) account.
Normally, this would invoke a quick skip to the next option as the number of various parenting books that I failed to finish or follow is too much to conceive at once. However it was the phrases, “life-ready,” and “checklist to adulthood,” that made my ears perk up. Making the connection between my children and their future lives (beyond adolescence) broadened the picture to something kinder, gentler, and wiser and appealed to my more philosophical side. The central premise of GIST is that life is the best teacher for kids. Parents can instruct, incent, give, model, protect, and undoubtedly all these things have a place and time. However, all of our striving and yearning for control, our talking and fussing, if not in the service of “learning,” (as opposed to anti-learning – where we are all spinning our wheels, a brilliant concept), will only leave us exhausted, frazzled, and feeling powerless.
And yet, we do have power. We have the power to provide a foundation of love, support and encouragement, to provide opportunities to build true self esteem, to try and understand what’s beneath problem behaviors and to get out of the way when a learning opportunity presents itself. Why is this important? Because as the authors remind us, no life is without difficulty, and by allowing children to face the natural and inevitable issues that arise during their growing years, they will enter their adult and independent years with a greater ability to handle life’s hurdles rather than be paralyzed by them. This is what builds resilience and it is also what supports the development of healthy self-esteem, a precursor for someone who can among other things, differentiate between lasting joy and momentary pleasure. For me, this was a reminder to keep a more expansive outlook on life – that the feelings we have trouble tolerating now with respect to parenting – whether it be our own frustration at seeing them make choices that we don’t think are good for them, or our sadness at watching them endure schoolyard dynamics – whatever it may be– this is OUR work and not the central storylines of our children’s lives.