13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do cover

13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do - Book Summary

Raising Self-Assured Children and Training Their Brains for a Life of Happiness, Meaning, and Success

Duration: 28:17
Release Date: January 10, 2024
Book Author: Amy Morin
Category: Parenting
Duration: 28:17
Release Date: January 10, 2024
Book Author: Amy Morin
Category: Parenting

In this episode of 20 Minute Books, we unravel the insights of "13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do" by Amy Morin. This 2017 guide offers a road map for parents eager to steer clear of behaviors that inadvertently hold their children back from achieving their full potential—emotionally, behaviorally, and academically. Morin, a seasoned psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, and college psychology instructor, critiques contemporary parenting techniques and presents strategies for nurturing mental resilience in children to prepare them for the complexities of modern life.

With her expertise as a bestselling author and contributions to Forbes, Psychology Today, and Verywell, Morin brings to the table practical advice for fostering independence and fortitude in young minds. This book is an indispensable resource for new parents looking to empower their children, those seeking to refine their parenting approach, and anyone interested in understanding the profound impact parenting practices have on child psychology. Join us as we explore how to cultivate the next generation of mentally strong individuals.

Strengthen your parenting game for children’s lifelong resilience

Imagine a world where every child steps into adulthood equipped with not just book smarts, but also with the emotional resilience to handle life’s curveballs. That's the kind of future we all want for our kids, right? As a parent, you have a crucial role to play in making that vision a reality. But it's not just about what you should do for your children — often, it's about what you shouldn't do.

Amy Morin, an adept foster mother and psychotherapist, has seen firsthand the pitfalls of parenting strategies gone awry. With a wealth of experience from her professional practice and personal life, she's pinpointing the traps that even the most well-meaning parents can fall into. The focus? Avoiding these traps to ensure that you don’t unwittingly hamper your child's mental strength development.

Here’s a tantalizing glimpse into Morin's discoveries:

— Understand why guilt can lead a parent to make detrimental decisions, and what to do about it;

— Discover how a balanced approach to feedback, such as the praise-criticism-praise technique, can inspire your kids to reach their potential;

— Learn the craft of writing a family mission statement that wraps up your core values and sets a course for your tribe's journey.

By flipping the script on conventional child-rearing wisdom, Amy Morin offers a playbook for parents that emphasizes not just action, but deliberate inaction. So, are you ready to sidestep some common parenting faux pas and build up your and your children's mental fortitude? Let's dive in.

Nurturing resilience: The key to moving beyond adversity

Physical health in children is a topic generously littered across parenting magazines and pediatrician offices, but what about the mental toughness required to skate through life's rough patches? The backbone of childhood resilience isn't found on a playground, nor is it located on the leafy greens of the dinner plate. Instead, it's sculpted in the daily interactions and lessons woven into the fabric of home life — lessons that teach children to bounce back, rather than buckle under pressure.

As a responsible parent aiming to raise such gritty individuals, it's crucial to embody the very habits that breed mental strength. One might say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and in the case of mental resilience, the seed you plant is the fruit you'll bear.

Consider the well-meaning urge to sweep to your child's rescue whenever they encounter an obstacle. Social media has skewed the line between advocacy and indignation, leading some parents to cultivate a sense of perpetual aggrievement in their kids. But strong-minded parents resist this trend, choosing instead to empower their kids to tackle life’s hurdles head-on.

Picture Cody, the teenager who grappled with ADHD. As his medication smoothed out his attention issues, his academic performance lagged, prompting his parents to plead for scaled-down schoolwork. What Cody was experiencing, however, was "learned helplessness" — the belief in his own inadequacy reinforced inadvertently by his parents' actions. Treating him like someone capable of taking charge of his life had a remarkable effect: his grades improved as did his self-perception.

Responsibility is a key ingredient in this developmental recipe, too. Rather than absolving your child from the outcomes of their behavior, instill accountability. Imagine the consequence of shielding them from repercussions: how, then, would they steel themselves against life’s inevitable unfair twists and turns?

There are straightforward, actionable steps you can take. Introducing chores early on isn't just about keeping the house tidy — it's about building future adults who exude empathy and self-reliance. Research vouches for this. And when conflicts bubble up? Don't be too quick to referee. Sociologist Steven Horwitz insists that children benefit from hashing out disagreements in their own playground courtrooms — unmediated by the adult world.

Lastly, don't overlook the power of ones thought patterns. Swap out BLUE thoughts — Blame, Look for the bad news, Unhappy guessing, and Exaggerated negativity — with TRUE thinking: Taking responsibility, Recognizing the positive, Undertaking action, and Excavating exceptions. In the quest to usher children beyond victimhood, these thought exercises aren't just games; they're foundational tools for life's arduous journey.

Conquer parental guilt and fear to teach courage and capability

Guilt — it's a sensation that's all too familiar to parents. You've likely been there: second-guessing decisions, juggling work and parenting, all the while dreading the title of "bad" parent. In fact, if statistics are to be believed, nearly every parent has grappled with pangs of guilt. But beware; when guilt commandeers your parenting strategy, it can lead you down a problematic path.

Let's contemplate how guilt pushes some parents to surrender to their children's every whim. Why? Because it provides an instant reprieve from that gnawing sensation. Look at Joe, for instance, who faced the heart-wrenching decision to impose dietary restrictions on his severely overweight son, Micah. Joe's choice was driven by guilt, but he came to realize that enduring the temporary guilt of saying "no" was far more preferable than the lifelong regret of compromising his son's health.

So, what's the antidote to debilitating guilt in parenting? Start by discerning whether your guilt bears truthfulness. If it does, it's time to pivot your approach for the better. But if the guilt is unfounded, remind yourself not to blow your parenting decisions out of proportion. Can't buy the trendiest shoes? It doesn't mean your child will wear the label of an outcast. And don’t forget to practice self-forgiveness; your children are watching, and they'll mimic how you treat yourself.

Pair this with facing down another parenting giant — fear. The story of April, who shrouded her children from water due to a tragic family history, illustrates this well. It was only after a harrowing incident where her child nearly drowned that April recognized the importance of equipping — rather than sheltering — her kids. To truly protect them, she had to introduce them to swimming, not isolate them from it.

The transition into adolescence should come with its own set of challenges for your child — ones born from stepping out of their comfort zone, rather than overbearing parental fears. The data indicates that the trend of helicopter parenting correlates with a rise in young adults retreating back to their parents' homes, unable to adapt to the independence of adult life.

So, what can you take from this? Your focus might be better channeled into arming your children with the necessary skills to prosper, rather than constructing a bubble around them. Ironclad protection isn't a substitute for teaching adaptability, courage, and self-reliance. Give them the tools to tackle adversity, and you’ll enable them to build their own strong foundations against the worries of the world.

Craft a household where self-worth and humility balance each other out

When it comes to parenting, it's easy to orbit our lives around our little ones. Yet, have you ever stopped to consider the cosmic message this sends? Could this parenting style be sending signals to your child that she is, indeed, the queen of the galaxy, with the rest of humanity as mere satellites in her space?

Affirmation is vital, but when bolstered into a belief of unparalleled grandeur, it can morph into entitlement. And with entitlement comes the pitfalls: a diluted sense of empathy, an ever-present hunger for gratification, and a mindset that success should come easily, without the need to strive or toil.

The origins of a child's superiority complex can be multifaceted. Perhaps in a well-intentioned bid to counter a sparser childhood of their own, parents overindulge in affection. Or maybe the intention is to insulate their child from the arrows of modern adversities, such as bullying or the perils of social media.

The case of Carol, Tom, and their daughter Brittany is a cautionary tale. Drowned in parental affection and always getting her way, Brittany developed into the "mean girl" at school, upsetting her parents' intention of teaching kindness by example. The lesson here? Care and niceties meant to encourage empathy should not culminate in self-absorption.

If you fear you’re dealing with a rising egocentrist, it's time for a humility intervention. Cultivate an appreciation for effort rather than just celebrating victories — reinforce the process more than the outcome. Injecting gratitude into everyday rituals, like a family reflection of daily thankfulness, can weave a tapestry of humility.

And then, there's awe — that humbling, uplifting emotion that dwarf our egos against the backdrop of the vast universe. Exposing your child to the majesty of nature or the staggering scale of history can realign their perspective, according to University of California, Berkeley researchers.

Now, let us not forget the structure of your domestic kingdom. Within the walls where your child learns the rules of life, clarity is king. Be steadfast in your boundaries, consistent in consequences, and opt for rewards over bargaining chips. Show a united front, if you’re co-parenting, to avoid any cracks in your castle’s walls.

Your child tests the waters of authority not out of rebellion, but to be reassured that someone is at the helm, guiding the ship through childhood’s choppy seas. The mental strength you exhibit isn't just for show — it's imparting a road map for your child to navigate her own life with confidence and sound judgment.

Embrace imperfection and allow room for valuable life lessons

The notion that under intense pressure, a humble piece of coal transforms into a brilliant diamond, is a metaphor some parents might apply to child-rearing with an expectation for unblemished performance. It’s not uncommon for parents to see their children as vessels for rectifying their own past shortcomings, dreaming that through their offspring, they might experience vicarious redemption.

Yet, the pursuit of perfection can weigh heavily on a young mind, fostering what is known as socially prescribed perfectionism — a belief that one is only as lovable as their latest achievement. Tragically, this pressure to please can become unbearable. Studies, including a poignant one from 2013, have linked this pressure to a distressingly high number of suicides among young people.

Transcending gender, the onus of perfection thrust upon a child is a heavy cross to bear. What’s the alternative? Shape an environment where striving for excellence is celebrated, not a flawless performance. Avoid harsh critiques like the plague; rather, tuck constructive feedback between two slices of praise, crafting a nurturing feedback sandwich.

In your commendable zeal for perfection, be wary of descending into the oft-criticized role of a helicopter parent. The downfall? These children may never cultivate the grit necessary to rise from the ashes of their failures. The ripple effects are profound: troubles transitioning into independent living, decision-making paralysis, and an increased risk of mental health struggles.

What if, instead, we illustrated for our children how to morph each tumble and fault into a stepping stone? To digest and grow from the missteps by underscoring the importance of rebound and personal development. Share your own tales of stumble and resurgence, not as cautionary fables, but as chapters in the human saga of growth — proof that we are all perpetual works in progress and that ‘failing forward’ is where true learning happens.

Teaching kids to embrace the imperfect is to grant them the liberty to explore, to experiment, and to understand that even in misjudgment, there lies opportunity. In this philosophical shift, we don't just tell, we show; that from the murky depths of the unaccomplished and the erred, one can still emerge with grace and wisdom.

Hardship builds strength: Learning to navigate life's tough moments

Picture Julie and Michael, heading into the rough waters of divorce, who navigated their separation with one goal in mind: shielding their children from any hint of distress. Family dinners persisted, holidays remained a joint venture, all in a quest to sustain a semblance of continuity for their kids.

But as Julie turned a page in her life and welcomed a new partner, she stood face to face with an unavoidable truth — the pain she had avoided was simply postponed, not prevented. Their careful choreography around discomfort had left the family floating in a state of suspended reality.

It's an instinct as old as time — the parental reflex to wrap our children in bubble wrap, guarding them from life's emotional scrapes and bruises. But what message does it send when we whisk away every potential hurt? It suggests fragility, inadvertently robbing them of the chance to build self-reliance and adaptive coping strategies.

As reality would have it, mishandled pain doesn't just dissipate; it can transform and manifest through adverse behaviors in adulthood. In shielding children from hurt, we might inadvertently be encouraging a lifelong flight from discomfort.

The eventual shift in Julie's family life — the cessation of the Sunday dinners and the seasonal festivities with Michael — although painful, was a crucible for growth. It offered her children a valuable, albeit tough, life lesson: discomfort is not a nemesis but a teacher.

Embracing pain rather than rejecting it elevates our empathic capacities, tunes us into life's peaks and valleys, and anchors us firmly into the present — a cornerstone of mindfulness. The sorrow of a separation, the bitterness of a failure, or the sting of rejection are all potent moments that, when navigated with care and understanding, can shape a more resilient and perceptive individual.

So, let us not obscure the view of hardship for our kids but instead walk alongside them with support and guidance. For in learning to confront and cope with life's stings, we impart a wisdom that is invaluable: the inherent strength in vulnerability, and the triumph in transformation.

Give kids the tools to navigate their emotions, not just the happy ones

It's a scene familiar to many parents: a child in the throes of a tantrum or dissolving into tears over a minor slight. The natural inclination is to divert their attention or cheer them up, to kiss the boo-boo of the soul and make it all okay. But what if leaning into these uncomfortable emotions is actually the key to emotional resilience?

Imagine a child's emotional spectrum as a landscape, rich and varied. Now envision only showing them the sunny meadows, never allowing them to walk under the shade of the weeping willow. By avoiding life's inevitable emotional thunderstorms, we risk rendering our children ill-equipped to handle the true breadth of human feelings. Sadness, hurt, and disappointment are intrinsic threads in the tapestry of life. Allowing them to traverse these experiences builds their mental and emotional fortitude.

Think of emotions as muscles in their own right, needing stretch and strain to grow stronger. It’s unrealistic — and indeed unhelpful — to shield kids from the 'emotional gym' where they learn to handle boredom, guilt, or frustration. Because when adulthood beckons, these skills become indispensable.

Encourage your child to name their feelings, to understand the landscape of their inner world. Swap out vaguer sayings like "butterflies in my stomach" for precise descriptors — nervous, anxious, thrilled. This isn't just semantics; it's about emotional literacy, taking the reins of one's feelings and learning the art of self-expression.

But of course, while we want children to understand and sit with their emotions, we don't want them marooned on an island of sadness. That's where you introduce mood boosters. Together, you can devise a happiness toolkit: be it a comfort blanket of activities or a repertoire of calming strategies. It's about instilling self-awareness and equipping them with their own emotional compass.

By weaving emotional intelligence into the family narrative — from openly discussing your own feelings to encouraging introspection — your child can grow into an adult who not only stands unfazed in the face of emotional winds but who can also find their way back to balance and joy. The Penn State research stands clear: such social and emotional agility at a young age paves the way for life successes, well beyond the playground and into the professional world.

So next time the tears come, or anger flares, see it as an opportunity to guide your child, not away from, but through the emotional storm. Because the ability to navigate all of life's complexities — the sunlit peaks and shadowed valleys — is perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can bestow upon our children.

Discipline as a teaching tool, not a weapon of control

Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, and sometimes when the finish line feels a world away, it's tempting to take the quickest detour to compliance — shouting, punishment, or even humiliation.

But let's pause and ponder the true cost of these methods. Studies have found a slew of downsides to corporal punishment like spanking, including heightened aggression and increased risk of mental health issues. What's more, humiliation and yelling can shape children into skilled deceivers and hesitant decision makers, skilled in the art of evasion rather than honesty.

So what's the alternative to punishment? The answer lies in the nuanced world of healthy discipline — an approach that puts the spotlight on learning and growth. Instead of fixating on errors, it defines a path towards understanding and adherence to family values.

Let's start with laying the groundwork for what scholarly parenting looks like. Reflect on the best authority figures you've encountered — those bosses who led with clarity and inspired performance without fear. What can parents learn from them? Much like a great leader, a parent's discipline strategy can benefit from clear rules, consistent application, and a rewards system that motivates rather than intimidates.

Mentally strong parents avoid the seduction of quick fixes. Do you give in to a tantruming toddler for a moment of quiet, or clean your teen's room just to avoid conflict? Or do you seek emotional band-aids like a fun outing to dodge the household tension? These measures only reinforce the allure of the shortcut in your child's eyes.

As an alternative, focus on engendering perseverance. Setting manageable goals, such as attaining a certain number of books read over the summer, can be a simple yet effective way to teach patience and diligence. Research from Stanford University underlines the long-term benefits of this approach, linking the ability to delay gratification with an array of positive life outcomes.

True, implementing a thoughtful discipline system is more labor-intensive than resorting to harsh punishments. It requires a fuller cup of personal energy. That's why self-care — whether it's a brisk walk or a cup of coffee with a close friend — is not selfish, but absolutely essential. Recharging your own batteries is part of the cyclical process that powers your ability to provide the structure and support your child needs to thrive.

Live your values: The blueprint for raising conscientious children

In the cacophony of daily parenting — from rushed breakfasts to bedtime stories — it's all too easy to overlook the grand scheme of things. Yet, what truly resilient parents realize is that each day is a new chapter in teaching life's most profound lessons. Are their children absorbing the right ones?

Consider the wake-up call that befell the parents of Kyle, the 15-year-old straight-A student. When cheating derailed his academic trajectory, his parents were stunned. They had inadvertently emphasized the currency of success so much that Kyle felt it trumped integrity. The spotlight on Ivy League prospects and social boasting outlined a life where reputation outshined character, where grades eclipsed honesty. It was a stark realization: the values they extolled in their narrative didn't match those in their son’s actions.

Such dissonance between words and deeds is, unfortunately, not uncommon. Harvard University released findings in 2014 highlighting this gap: while parents professed caring as their paramount parenting value, teens sensed an incongruous emphasis on achievement.

Getting your family’s value compass finely tuned might seem daunting, but it's a process that can start with something as simple as penning a family mission statement. This rallying cry is not just a set of ideals but a lodestar for daily life. It's created not in isolation, but with the collective voices of the household — a conversation that questions the essence of family and its aspirational identity. And once crafted, it’s not to be filed away but displayed, a constant reminder of who you are and what you stand for.

Imparting values begins in earnest when your children are still navigating the basics of their world. Demonstrating the value of care, volunteerism, or respect should be as tangible to them as the toys they cherish. And as you pursue acts of kindness or model patient problem-solving, it's less about a one-time action and more about nurturing a sense of responsibility to the world around them.

So in this flux of parenting, where the days are long but the years are short, take a moment to pull back, to ensure that alignment between your actions and the values you yearn to impart. By living out these principles, you show your children not just how to succeed, but how to lead lives rich in purpose and compassion.

Cultivating resilience through mindful parenting

Raising children is indeed a complex, beautiful challenge that invites us to not only shape young minds but also to reflect on and refine our own behaviors. If the aim is to foster robust mental strength in your child, the journey begins with the parent — your actions, your example, and your emotional landscape serve as the foundational model for your child’s development.

Interactive and responsive parenting, which eschews fear, prioritizes authentic values, and rejects the allure of shortcuts, emboldens children to navigate life with confidence and fortitude. As parents, we must grapple with the reality that we cannot shield our children from adversity. Instead, our role entails guiding them through emotional terrains, ensuring that they are equipped to face the entire spectrum of human experiences with resilience and grace.

It's about crafting a parenting philosophy that is both reflective and proactive, one that is grounded in clear values and communicated not just in words, but in lived practice. This is the canvas on which children learn the most important lessons — not in the absence of challenges, but in the midst of them. And as we consciously model the behaviors and attitudes we wish to instill, we set the stage for our children to become not just successful individuals but also emotionally intelligent, empathetic members of society.

13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do Quotes by Amy Morin

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