by Kevin Burns

“Lynn Kachmarik took us on a high-energy emotional and intellectual roller-coaster ride through all our parenting anxieties and stresses. We laughed, we cried, we felt a little bit guilty…and we all discovered three pieces of excellent news:”

As a father of two near-adults of 11 and 13, I joined twelve other IICS parents to find out how we could do a better job supporting our children as they learn, grow and develop. Lynn
Kachmarik took us on a high-energy emotional and intellectual roller-coaster ride through all our parenting anxieties and stresses.

We laughed, we cried, we felt a little bit guilty…and we all discovered three pieces of excellent news: First, we are all in the same boat, sharing the same kinds of doubts and struggles about whether we are the best parents we can be. Second: we are all good parents—we all love our children, want the best for them, and give them a lot. And third: we can all become better parents. Here are some of Lynn’s suggestions how, as well as links to a book she recommends, a TED talk and other clips she showed, and her basic PowerPoint arguments.

Kachmarik is Outreach Director for Play Like a Champion Today and has been a professional athlete and a collegiate athletics coach and athletic director. As an educational speaker on sports ethics, character, and leadership development in young adults, she spent a few days at our school this week working with our students and teachers on character development and mental training for success in sports, school and life.

We parents need that kind of training too, of course; and we all want to raise our children to be successful, happy, resilient and independent young adults. Luckily for us, Kachmarik was scheduled to do a parenting session “Raising Great Adults” at the Marmara campus on Wednesday. For those who missed it, here are a few details.

First Kachmarik laid out the problem starkly: rates of anxiety, depression, and loneliness among university students are rising alarmingly, especially among international students. We need to do a better job preparing our children to lead happy, confident, independent lives after they leave home. The most important learning attributes we can help our children develop to support their future success as young adults are:

Resilience: the ability to bounce back up after a fall or failure.

Self-Efficacy: the confidence that one’s own independent actions can lead to successful
outcomes.

Happiness: the ability to enjoy one’s life experiences as they happen.

Independence: the confidence that one can stand on one’s own two feet.

Gratitude: awareness that one has a lot to be thankful for.

Caring for others: concern for the well-being of our classmates, teammates, community and
world.

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Kachmarik recommends this TED talk by the author of this book (and here’s a New York Times review of the book).

The bottom line is: Our children need our support, encouragement and love. But mostly this should come in the form of “being there” for them, not managing their lives. Here
are some tips:

  • Ask about their day, not just their achievements.
  • Ask about fun activities and experiences, not just about assessments and assignments.
  • Have more family time and fun: dinner conversation, games, activities. Be sure they know their family is unconditionally supportive, a safe and uncritical place for them.
  • Help them set goals; don’t create goals or expectations for them.
  • Ask them what they want to do, and what kinds of plans they have to reach their goals, rather than tell them what they should do.
  • Come to watch their activities (sports games, performances, assemblies, etc) and tell them how much you enjoyed seeing them. Don’t criticize, coach or judge, just
    celebrate. (see this video clip!)
  • Allow them to fail, and help them to process failure: to accept it and learn from it.
  • Help them take risks and challenges in which failure is possible.
  • Allow them some areas of independence, encourage independent actions and experiences whenever possible.
  • Be your child’s number one fan.

Finally, this is the video that makes all parents cry. Enjoy!