Dynasties (Part 2)
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.
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Petunia Lee, Ph.D
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