All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

Kids aren’t bonsai trees

Photo provided
Julie Lythcott-Haims.
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

EDMOND, Okla. – Don’t worry―I’m hard on myself already. Be more understanding of who I am. I know you’re here if I need you, but let me handle it. I need to make my own mistakes. Have more confidence in yourself as a parent.

Some of the advice given to Julie Lythcott-Haims by teenagers at Heritage Hall last week hit home for so many. Without pointing any fingers, Lythcott-Haims nudged parents to take a look at their approach to parenting.

The night kicked off the first presentation of Heritage Hall’s 2016-17 Distinguished Speaker Series. Lythcott-Haims, an acclaimed author, parent and former dean of freshman at Stanford University, discussed her best-selling book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kids for Success.

Helicopter parents, those known to hover over their child’s every move, take too much responsibility for their child’s successes and failures. Even though we have the best intentions, this leads to a lack of self-esteem, confidence and coping skills, and often encourages a sense of entitlement.

Lythcott-Haims calls out kids living a check listed childhood, with scheduled playdates and dreams only their parents have dreamt for them. Shadowing and directing their behavior can have a negative effect on fundamental development. Lythcott-Haims recalled accounts of overbearing parents of college freshman, students who couldn’t verbalize their interests and goals, and those who were so interesting on paper but didn’t exist in person.

Teachers and coaches are being undermined with constant calls to extend deadlines and change grades. We are unintentionally creating anxious children who question each choice because they’re so afraid to fail.

“Kids aren’t bonsai trees for us to prune and groom,” Lythcott-Haimssexplained. Constantly nagging, nudging, haggling and reminding. Making sure they don’t screw up.

Let’s let our kids be kids—free to pursue their own interests and make their own mistakes.

  • Stop saying we. We aren’t in Mrs. Austin’s class this year. We don’t have a football game this weekend.
  • Stop arguing with adults in their lives. Little Bobby forgot his homework, but Little Bobby can advocate for himself.
  • Stop doing their homework. Mini Me’s science project will never compare to her classmate’s father’s science project. 

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Toni Allen

Toni Allen has spent the majority of adulthood parenting, following hashtags and laughing...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd

Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK