The ultimate goal of parenting is to raise a young man or woman who is loved, secure in their identity and purpose, and equipped to be self-reliant.
Yep, that’s all.
If it were only as easy as reading the words and agreeing with that statement, right?
But are there secrets to raising these self-assured and self-reliant adults? Are there any proven practices found that work in parenting?
Acknowledging that each child is a unique personality with their own preferences, gifts and talents, and tendencies that all come together to form their own individuality, parenting must take into account these differences among kids. But, yes, there are a few common practices that are shown to work and foster more productive young adults.
First, appreciate that our current social construct of children moving to the phase of adolescence, typically recognized as 11-17 years of age, then to adulthood at age 18 years is a relatively recent development, when viewed on the timeline of humanity.
The formal study of adolescence began in the 1940s, but this phase recognized today was invented and introduced in 1904 by G. Stanley Hall, the first president of the American Psychological Association. The social scientist focused on the maturation and behavioral differences of various ages as part of human development and also realized that Child Labor Laws and the growing availability of public education redefined roles of older children and young adults.
Yet, the origin of adolescence is actually a verb. The Latin word, “adolescere” means to grow up, mature. It’s important for parents to expect their children to mature, to grow, while committing to fostering an environment with behaviors, expectations, and experiences that will shape a young adult positively. It’s an active process, not an automatic event.
Adults modeling good and valuable behaviors through parenting, mentorships and coaching are commonly present in the lives of successful young adults. Their parents have been their first teachers, giving time and trust in activities that include education, sports and chores, as examples. Children become what they see in their own homes. Likewise, adolescents will become the young adults they see in their own parents and the adults in their lives.
Researchers at Stanford University have also found that parents of thriving young adults have high expectations that are clearly communicated to their children and adolescents coupled with experiences where the young adult in progress takes the lead in easy to moderately difficult tasks. Put simply, parents first model, provide instruction, then step back and allow their child to engage, and even make errors from which to learn, in a task or activity.
Dealing with conflict constructively is another common practice found in raising successful young adults. Clear communication, compromise and a commitment to mutual respect and resolution has to be modeled rather than negative behaviors such as name-calling, profanity, hostilities, and revenge, framed by a lack of respect. Parents and families who spend time together, talking, engaged in social activities and work yield self-reliant young adults. The process is proven.