I recently read an article in The New York Times on “raising successful children.” The article explores different parenting styles, from the overly involved “helicopter parent” to the “authoritative parent.” The authoritative parent is involved and responsive, sets high expectations, but understands the need for the child’s development of independence and self-efficacy. The article states that children thrive best in an environment that is reliable, available, and non-interfering.
Looking back, my parents fall into the category of authoritative parents. When I was just six years old and refusing to walk to school by myself one morning, my mother hugged me, opened the door, and gently pushed me out of the house. Standing on the porch, I was upset, and then angry when the door didn’t open to let me back in. I announced, “Fine, I’m a big girl! I can walk to school all by myself!” I stomped off to school alone without knowing that Mom had sent Dad to watch me from a distance.
That experience – and others – allowed me to develop perseverance and confidence in myself. I believe that the independence I had as a child coupled with my family’s constant support behind the scenes have been significant factors in my education and life.
In my role as Head of School at Brownell-Talbot School, I encourage our teachers – and parents – to collaborate in delivering this kind, caring, yet authoritative style that will help students become self-sufficient, critical thinkers and effective problem solvers. My belief is allowing opportunities for children to lean into discomfort to grow and develop emotionally can prepare them to be confident and successful.
What do you think? Share your thoughts, successes, and learning moments here.