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The Blessing of the Skinned Knee

The Blessing of the Skinned Knee  Is it possible that a skinned knee, failure on a test and not having your child’s life completely planned out is really a good thing?  Dr. Wendy Mogel, clinical psychologist, and author of The Blessing of the Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus would say yes!

 “The biggest problem I see today is loving, devoted parents, armed with good intentions, are treating their children like royalty,” said Dr. Mogel.  “Parents are putting themselves in the role of butler, secret police, talent agent, ATM, and hospital staff member doing things for their children that they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves.” ((Julie, some of the items on this list are repeated in the third “takeaway” point you make later in the piece. Divide up the nouns (roles)?

Mogel believes this parental behavior is ultimately a set up for kids.

“I frequently see parents who treat their children like hot house flowers, who must depend on their parents for survival,” said Mogel.  “They over schedule, over protect and over indulge their children to the point that  the children end up feeling a combination of entitled, dependent, anxious and like they don’t measure up.”

In many instances these young people head off to college full of hope.  Three months later they are back home because they didn’t know how to deal with their roommate, the professor refused to spoon feed them information and they have no idea how to work through problems on their own.

If it feels like Dr. Mogel is stepping all over your toes, you are not alone.   

“There are many great parents out there with fantastic intentions who get carried away in their efforts to raise a successful adult,” said Mogel.  “In the end nobody wins.  Boys go on strike, girls become perfectionistic and parents get angry.”

So, how can parents avoid falling in this trap?

Dr. Mogel provides these words of encouragement to well-intentioned parents:

Don’t mistake a snapshot taken today with the epic movie of your child’s life.  Kids go through phases…..glorious ones and rotten ones.

Don’t confuse children’s wants with their needs.  Don’t fall for the smooth talking 15-year-old’s line: ‘Mom, you’ll probably want to buy me a brand new car because it’ll be really, really, really, safe….definitely safer than me driving your big old van.’  Privileges are not entitlements.

Remember, your child is hard-wired for competence.  Let them learn to do for themselves.

Before you nag, remind, criticize, advise, chime in, or over-explain, say to yourself ‘W.A.I.T’ (Why am I talking?) Listen four times more than you talk.

Remember that disappointments are necessary preparation for adult life.  When your child doesn’t get invited to her friend’s birthday party, make the team, or get a big part in the play, stay calm.  Without these experiences your child will be ill-equipped for the real world.

Be alert, but not automatically alarmed.  Question yourself.  Stop and reflect: Is this situation unsafe or just uncomfortable for my child?  Is it an emergency or a new challenge?

Don’t take it personally if your teenager treats you badly.  Judge his character not on the consistency of in-house politeness, clarity of speech, or degree of eye contact, but on what teachers say, whether he’s welcomed by his friends’ parents, and his manners with neighbors, salespeople, and servers in restaurants.

Mogel acknowledges that parenting is hard work and that the competition is fierce.  On  Tuesday, February 4th, from 7-8:30 at the Baylor School Alumni Chapel, Dr. Mogel will be sharing more helpful insights for parents who are intent on raising self-reliant, resilient and accountable young people.  The event is free and open to the public.