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Are You Raising PHD Children?

Updated on August 15, 2017

Don't Rob Your Children of Life's Lessons


A common sentiment among parents is they want to spare their children all the hardships and problems they experienced as a child. We have become a nation that raises PHD children.

Bradford Smart, Ph. D, in his book Topgrading, found that the number one characteristic of the 6,000 high achieving executives he had interviewed was resourcefulness. His daughter, Dr. Kate Mursau, a family therapist collaborated with him to write a book Can-Do Kids: How to Raise Resourceful, Happy Children.

Kate's doctoral dissertation showed that high achievers, all highly resourceful have children who are typically not resourceful. It is their conclusion that high achievers are very poor at passing on the characteristic of resourcefulness to their children. Their conclusion is that high achievers try to protect and do for their children, rather than coach and mentor their children.

Here is how they describe PHD children:

P - for passivity. We give our children everything. They do not need to or even have the chance to develop resourcefulness. We are doing for them before they are forced to fend for themselves.

H - for helplessness. Since we tend to give them everything we think they need which cheats them of developing resourcefulness, when they are faced with a problem they are helpless. They have not been taught to figure things out on their own. So when problems arise, they have no strong experience to draw on as a source for solving their problems.

D - for dependency. Because we tend to do things for them, making them passive and helpless, they become dependent on our continued support.

I once asked a psychiatrist friend to define a good parent. His definition was, "A good parent is one whose children grow up and leave home." There is a lot implied in that definition. If they leave home, it implies that we raise them to be self-sufficient.

Unfortunately, in our desire to give our children an easier life than we had, we often rob them of the opportunity to grow and learn. Growth comes from experience. But when we do everything for them, we cheat them of the ability to learn to be independent.

The best thing you can do for your children is to let them learn from their mistakes while they are young and the mistakes are not too costly. If we shelter them from learning, when they are forced to learn the lessons of life, the lessons are often very expensive.


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