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Raising Your Successful 35-Year-Old: Motherlode, New York Times

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What do we mean when we say we want to raise “successful” children? Too often, especially around this time of year, that conversation centers on college or the kinds of academics and activities that lead to college. “Success” is hard to measure, and those external markers make for comforting milestones along the way.

Comforting, but dangerous. Because when checking off the achievement box is what defines success, it’s too easy to forget that it’s the qualities in our children that might lead to those accomplishments that matter — not the goals themselves.

Achievements, from the A on the science project to the letter of acceptance from Big U, can be the gold stars for parents. They’re the visible signs that we’re doing something right, and that makes it tempting to push our children forward, just a little (or maybe a lot) by stepping in when it looks as if they might not quite get there on their own. The working model of the water cycle was her idea; we just “helped” build it. She did the algebra homework; we just corrected it. He wrote the essay; we just added some structure to the argument.

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By KJ DELL'ANTONIA
APRIL 9, 2015

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