I'm going to be completely honest here, and I'm pretty ashamed to admit this, but I hardly ever read books. It's not that I don't like reading. I do. I actually love it. Before I had kids, I loved nothing more than diving deep and losing myself in a great story. Romance novels were my guilty pleasure, but I enjoyed reading a variety of genres. Unfortunately, once I became a busy mother of two rambunctious little girls, they pretty much took over my life. I never quite figured out how to make time for myself to read, which is a damn shame.
However, I recently made time to read one parenting book in particular, and it is one that many of my mom friends have also read and loved just as much as I did. My husband was the one who recommended the book to me. When I looked it up on Amazon and saw it was a New York Times bestseller and had rave reviews (4.5 stars on Amazon), I went ahead and ordered it. The book was How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid For Success ($10) by Julie Lythcott-Haims, and it has completely changed my life.
The reason my husband recommended this particular parenting book to me is because I am a total helicopter parent. I 100 percent admit to this behavior, and you know what? Being a helicopter mom is absolutely, overwhelmingly exhausting — and I am so over it. Since most of the other mothers in my mom squad are in the same boat as me, this book has been passed around quite a number of times. Everyone who has read it has been so thankful, because the book has been a real eye-opener for all of us. Before reading this book, I always felt that I was protecting my babies by thinking ahead and doing all I could to prevent them from experiencing heartache or failure, but this book helped me realize that instead, I've likely been preventing my children from learning from their mistakes and living their lives.
The book also taught me how to let go of my desire to do practically everything for my kids just because it is simply easier. For example, I tried to delegate chores to my children, like loading the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. But then I would monitor them the whole time, then cringe when they did it in an absurd way. I'd show them how to load the dishes correctly and step back, but they'd go right back to loading them in a way that made me want to rip my hair out. So in order to not lose my sanity and make things easier (or so I thought), I'd take over. Now after having read this book, I've learned to be less of a control freak with my kids, give them more responsibilities, and be much more patient with them — because it's important for their development (and my peace of mind).
Another important topic the author touches on is a parent's desire to see their children succeed in school, no matter what the cost. This is something I highly relate to, because we live right smack in the heart of Silicon Valley where the competition is extremely fierce. Although my children are only 10 and 7 years old, I decided to start them off as best I could by enrolling them in private school, hiring them a tutor, and signing them both up for multiple extracurricular activities. This book forced me to look at my real intentions. Am I doing all of these things to really help my children? Or am I just doing it to impress other people? How is all of this affecting my children's mental health? Will they think they are never good enough? I'd never thought of it this way before, and I have only benefited from the shift in thinking. I've allowed my kids to take a step back and do what they really care about. We still prioritize school, but I don't want that to come at the expense of their health.
I've learned a great deal from this amazing parenting book, and it has changed the way I parent my children for the better. I only wish I had read it sooner, perhaps before my children were even born. This book has taught me to step back and let my kids figure things out for themselves — and to my surprise, they have been doing wonderfully. This book has also allowed my children to feel empowered, which is all I could hope for as a mother. And an unexpected bonus: now that I've stepped down as a helicopter mom, I have more time to do some of the things I love . . . like cracking open a great book.