For the next few months, I am going to do a brief recap of some powerful parenting (with educational topics) books I’ve read.
Sometimes reading quotes from books helps shift my mindset on certain topics and gets me focused on what’s really important when raising children.
Book Title: The Parents We Mean to Be
Author: Richard Weissbourd
Harvard psychologist RichardWeissbourd argues incisively that parents—not peers, not television—are the primary shapers of their children’s moral lives. And yet, it is parents’ lack of self-awareness and confused priorities that are dangerously undermining children’s development.
Through the author’s own original field research, including hundreds of rich, revealing conversations with children, parents, teachers, and coaches, a surprising picture emerges.
Parents’ intense focus on their children’s happiness is turning many children into self-involved, fragile conformists.The suddenly widespread desire of parents to be closer to their children—a heartening trend in many ways—often undercuts kids’morality.Our fixation with being great parents—and our need for our children to reflect that greatness—can actually make them feel ashamed for failing to measure up. Finally, parents’ interactions with coaches and teachers—and coaches’ and teachers’ interactions with children—are critical arenas for nurturing, or eroding, children’s moral lives.
Weissbourd’s ultimately compassionate message—based on compelling new research—is that the intense, crisis-filled, and profoundly joyous process of raising a child can be a powerful force for our own moral development.
This book was read as part of a parent book study I participate in. It was not as entertaining as other books I’ve read in the past on similar topics, but still had value information on parenting, moral and ethical development, social-emotional development, and character development.
Top Ten Quotes:
- “And there is a single capacity, as I have argued, at the heart of almost every quality we think of as moral. That is appreciation, the ability to know and value other people, including those different from ourselves in background and perspective. Appreciation not only breaks destructive impulses, this quality is a foundation of the social and emotional skills that comprise the art of treating people well every day, the shadings of decency and respect—the instinct to know how and when to praise and criticize, when to assert oneself and when to listen, how to help without patronizing. Deep knowing and valuing also motivates, even at times compels, moral action.”
- “Rather than focusing narrowly on the dangers of peer pressure, adults should ask themselves whether they are helping children find causes and commitments that are larger than the self that are worth sacrificing for.”
- “It came to me pretty suddenly one day that parenting is a moral task,” a Chicago parent starkly put it, “that the principle of being a mother of a child who is a good person is more important than how much my kids like me or how happy they are in the moment. If my kids were going to be good people, I realized that I couldn’t go to them all the time if they cried or always be a fixer or problem solver, that I had to make real demands on them.”
- “Similarly, when we as parents get in the habit of doing small things to make our children’s lives easier—when we clean up after them, drive them places that they could walk to, fill out applications for our teenagers, pay teenagers’ parking tickets, or regularly jump in to solve children’s problems with peers, teachers, or coaches—we run the risk of making our children more fragile, entitled, and self-occupied.”
- “Psychologist and author Wendy Mogel urges parents to stick to a twenty-minute rule—spend no more than twenty minutes a day “thinking about your child’s education or worrying about your child, period.” Except in those cases when a child is having a significant academic or emotional problem, that’s a good rule.”
- “As parents and mentors, it’s vital to see ourselves not as static role models but as imperfect human beings, continually developing, in our dynamic relationships with our children, our own moral and mentoring capacities. The subtleties of appreciating and being generous with others, acting with fairness and integrity, and formulating mature and resilient ideals are a life’s work.”
- “In all sorts of ways, parenting can lift parents’ moral blinders. Parents may learn to deal with their selfish qualities or defects because they see the damage they cause to their children, or because they see these qualities reflected in their children’s qualities or actions.”
- “We as parents don’t influence children in a simple, linear way: we are engaged in complex relationships with children-and enmeshed in complex family dynamics-that constantly affect how we respond to children. Adults and children powerfully affect one another’s emotional and moral development.”
- “When children become self-absorbed and impulsive in their teen years it is widely recognized as a sea change-we view adolescence as a restructuring of the personality, a reorganization of the self. Yet when adults in midlife become self-absorbed and impulsive we call it “a crisis” or say they have “issues.” Some of these adults, though, are in fact developing fundamentally different self-understandings and sources of meaning that radically reorder their relationships and boost or corrode their ability to mentor.”
- “While many of us lose our ideals over time, others of us do not develop serious ideals until well into midlife. Some adults become wiser, more able to discern important moral truths; others’ notions of fairness become more formulaic and coarse. Some adults become more selfish while others become more altruistic-new research shows that the elderly, contrary to popular belief, tend to become more other-centered.”
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