By Faye Rogaski, founder socialsklz:-) tools to thrive in the modern world
This year, I had the great honor of serving as one of the 30 judges for Books for a Better Life, an awards program established to honor works in the “self-help”, “motivational”, “self-improvement,” and “advice categories.” The books in each of the 10 categories have changed the lives of millions and their authors have become major forces in American culture. My task was to review 4 books in the childcare/parenting category: Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by Xinran, The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, MD,10 Mindful Minutes by Goldie Hawn, and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. As I am currently preparing to play a new role of, “Mom,” I enthusiastically accepted the position and was eager to read these books that were already at the top of my list.
I began reading over the holidays, starting with the controversial Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I’d made some commentary on this book on my socialsklz:-) social media outlets when it initially came out, and received my very first anonymous “hate” email from a self-proclaimed “tiger mom.” At the same time, I was reading another book that many socialsklz:-) parents have suggested to me: The Blessing of A Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel, PhD. They are two diametrically opposed books on parenting and I found myself utterly confused reading such contradictory advice from experts on the subject.
Where along the spectrum should my “parenting style” fall? What kind of parent should I be? There were aspects of both books that I found compelling and convincing, yet other themes that I found outlandish. However, as I read, I did find one common theme: each of the books, in its own unique way, professes that children must be taught many of the essential life skills that I spend my days teaching, not as a parent, but as an instructor at socialsklz:-) …
1. Honor parents and adults.
2. Have self-confidence and believe in yourself.
3. Have a good work ethic.
4. Be prepared for the future with skills that will help to socially and emotionally navigate life.
The authors of these books are both highly respected in their careers and are mothers with “successful” children. While I pondered the very different parenting styles set forth in each book, I realized the underlying question in my mind as I look to the future as a parent is: “What is success?” Is it attending Harvard University? Is it becoming a doctor? Is it being emotionally sound and getting along with others? I realized that I, like every other parent, must define my own definition of “success.”
So I decided, true success for my daughter will stem from defining characteristics of who she will be—being a good person and a caring and empathetic human being, and letting her find what defines her own happiness. And now, I realize that being a successful parent will come from instilling the basic life skills that my parents taught me in my own daughter. With these ideas as my foundation, I have no doubt that I will find success as a parent.