Success and Character and Parenting
In recent years, the word “success” has been batted around in parenting culture. This series of blog posts considers a number of views of what “success” might mean – and how that influences how we parent.
In prior blog posts, I’ve discussed typical benchmarks of success that we may (or may not) prioritize for our children, including academic, professional, and financial achievement. I’ve also highlighted alternate perspectives that argue for more balance in our goals, in order to make sure our kids are also happy and lead psychological fulfilling lives.
What’s interesting is that these two orientations are not mutually exclusive and the idea of “balance” in fact supports success in the long run. It’s worth revisiting the premise of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. The book suggests that, if we take a long-term view on child development, character traits are often critically important factors for fueling the pursuit of achievement across developmental stages. So if we want to nurture “success,” we can’t just focus on skill development, but also the development of character.
There is a good deal of research on the importance of resilience, optimism, and the like in development. We could add to the list the downside of stress and depression and anxiety. From the perspective of parenting, pushing kids relentlessly to pursue success (e.g., extreme pressure to get good grades or achieve in a sport) can backfire. But this doesn’t mean you just let kids be and hope for the best. Focusing on fostering psychological investment in the process of working hard, having goals, and handling setbacks positions kids better for evolving the many skills they will need to chase after “success.”
What career is your child destined for? Take our quiz and find out.
Also in this series:
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