Thursday, November 13, 2014

Parent-Child Journeys Present a Few Pitfalls

"Under the horse chestnut tree", 1 p...
"Under the horse chestnut tree", 1 print : drypoint and aquatint, color ; (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There's a time to teach, to show, to model... and then a time to let go...


The parent-child bond is fraught with emotional and physical trials every step of the way. But what happens to the parent nearing those final days of nurturing?

Madeline Levine spent her career as a psychologist and a writer – and mother – with the belief that her job was to prepare her three sons to live independently and enthusiastically move into adulthood.

But now that the youngest of her three sons is out of college, and the older two are doing just what she wanted for them all along, her reaction surprised her.

“How odd that I should be blindsided by a sense of loss as my sons move fully into lives of their own,” she wrote in The Times.

“Some part of me must have known that each move toward independence – from zipping a jacket to hanging out at the mall to driving a car – meant not only that my sons were more capable, but also that I was less necessary,” Ms. Levine wrote. “And I meet this reality with far more ambivalence than I had anticipated.”

For those in the process of coaching their children on the path toward a meaningful life, the best advice may be that less is more. That’s the evidence from several recent studies that indicate the more parents are involved in their children’s lives – the more helicopter parenting they do – the less responsible children are likely to be, The Times reported.

A paper published in February in the American Sociological Review found that the more money parents spend on their child’s college education, the worse grades the child earns.

A separate study published the same month in the Journal of Child and Family Studies reported that the more parents are involved in schoolwork and selection of coursework, the less satisfied college student feel.

“It seems that certain forms of help can dilute recipients’ sense of accountability for their own success,” Eli J. Finkel and Grainne M. Fitzsimmons wrote. “The college student might think: If Mom and Dad are always around to solve my problems, why spend three straight nights in the library during finals rather than hanging out with my friends?”

Sometimes it’s the children’s actions that can do harm, especially when toddlers are acting out.

Parents routinely suffer concussions, chipped teeth, corneal abrasions, nasal fractures, cut lips and other
Injuries from the aggressive actions of their young children, The Times reported. More than one mother has had an earlobe torn when her baby has grabbed and yanked a dangling earring.

When Sarah Rosengarten was whacked across the face with a toy metal car by her 2-year-old son Carter Roberts, she wound up at the emergency room, where doctors diagnosed a hairline fracture of the jaw.

Can I look as young as my children?

“Children,” Ms. Rosengarten, 27, told The Times, “can be dangerous.”

The most daring of parents are willing to tread into that most perilous of territories – their children’s dating lives.

Barbara Weisberg, 64, inspired the development of The, a Jewish matchmaking site and one of several Web sites that have arisen to cater to parents, because she thought her own children were missing out.

“They maybe were looking superficially for attraction and they were not looking deep enough to see everything that encompasses a person,” Mrs. Weisberg, who has been married for nearly 40 years and lives in Kentucky, told The Times.

One night, her son Brad allowed her to review online matches for him and she made a list of candidates who she felt would promise a love connection.

But Mrs. Weisberg understands there are limits on how far a parent can and should go in trying to identity a mate for their children. She told The Times: “People have to settle down when they’re ready to.”

Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, July 6, 2013

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