This link is a continuation from HERE.
David S. Landes' book provides evidence that wealth can be maintained across more than 3 generations. It is clearly possible to raise capable children across multiple generations. Not all families succeed at it. Those who do succeed at it, what are their parenting secrets? Dr. Pet is no historian. Dr. Pet is a psychologist. What follows is a list of parenting practices that I have observed in my parent coaching practice, which contribute to underperforming children.
The Know It All Parent
This is the parent who will study the school material &/or tuition material whenever the child complains that he does not know. The parent will put in time and effort to figure out the material, and explain to the child. In this relationship, the parent is the respected expert. The child is the respectful follower. The parent feels the pressure to know it all. The child expects to get all answers from a respected authority.
Over time, the child becomes dependent on help. This help can be from tutors or from very intelligent parents. The child never learns that he or she has a brain the equal of his genetic parents. IQ is inherited via our genes, is it not?
I think my most valuable skill in parenting my own children was the ability to look convincingly stupid. Since my children knew that I was too dumb to be relied upon, they had to think for themselves.
The Contemptuous Parent
This is the high achiever parent who tells me that he will only praise the child when there is something deserving of praise. If Pablo Picasso had been born to such a parent, the artist would never have made it to genius level. This parent would be waiting for Picasso to produce Guernica before he praised. Picasso would have never been encouraged enough to paint and keep on painting.
This parent is critical because he is so afraid that his child will grow up lazy, indisciplined and dissolute. The fear is so great that he pounces on every whisper of a negative trait to stamp it out. Psychologically, this has the opposite effect on the child. It actually reinforces the negative traits because it convinces the child that he is lazy, indisciplined and dissolute. Give these traits enough attention and they will grow into monsters within your child.
So, when my son was 9 years old (having been convinced by his caregiver Grandma that he was lazy, playful, slow and indisciplined) I knew I had to put in effort to starve these monsters to death. Not surprisingly, back then, my son was scoring at the somewhat bottom of his class. I did 2 things:
(1) I set out to FIND things to praise. I watched like a hawk for the random occurrences of good traits, pounced on them and praised him, "You found the mall toilet even though Mommy could not! You are very resourceful!"
(2) I set him up for success. I created situations where he would unconsciously and without effort demonstrate the traits I wanted. For example, to make it easier for him to stay engaged with 10 long division sums, I sat behind him and gave him positive attention after every sum. He did not have to do the very difficult HW alone. I was there to give him moral support. Then, when he was done, I praised him as if he had done it all on his own, "You are not afraid of difficulty! You did all these difficult long division sums!"
Slowly, my son began to be convinced that he was hard working, resourceful, determined, responsible... etc..."
Watch this space next week for more types of parents that raise underperforming children.
Dynasties, Fortunes and Misfortunes of the World's Great Family Businesses, by David S. Landes, is a good read. David S. Landes is professor emeritus of history and economics at Harvard. He also wrote The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.The book details the history of illustrious families such as:
- The Barings
- The Rothschilds
- The Morgans
- The Agnellis and Fiat
- Peugeot, Renault and Citroen
- Toyoda (we know it as Toyota now)
- The Rockefellers
- The Guggenheims
- The Schlumberger
- The Wendel
These are names we recognise as those of multi-national corporations. They all started as family businesses.
My interest in this book arose from my interest in parenting. Quite often, I coach highly accomplished parents whose children are not reaching potential. The parents may be medical doctors, accountants, lawyers and CEO founders. Their children, whilst having inherited their parents' IQ, nonetheless, do not seem to fulfil their potential. Again and again the Chinese saying returns to haunt me:
Wealth does not pass 3 generations.
It is not my nature to be fatalistic. I did not want to accept this as an universal truth. For parents, the most heartrending tragedy must be to grow old and see one's children be losers and wastrels. Don't all of us send our kids to tuition, and sit with them to do homework just to ensure that they are best positioned to be better than we are? When I was a young mother in my 30s, my worst fears were that my children grow up spendthrift, entitled, reliant on me. I badly wanted my children to surpass me and my husband.
It struck me that Italian families and French families were often able to ensure that wealth pass down to even the 7th and 8th generation. The Rockefeller family is now in its SEVENTH generation, with as many as 170 heirs. They still hold substantial wealth. In 1523, Battista Suardi was a powerful man in the region of Bergamo, Italy. The family still has considerable wealth and influence today. Clearly, these families were able to raise capable children generation after generation.
I wondered what it is about European parenting practices that allowed them to do so, when Chinese families seemed to fatalistically accept that:
Wealth does not pass 3 generations.
Click HERE for the next post in this series.