TRUCKEE, Calif. — Last month in the back-to-school issue, I explored the ingredients of student success as presented by an educator and an investigative journalist in two recently published books. Both essentially agreed we need to look beyond standardized test scores, and place a renewed emphasis on the whole child, and most specifically, the value of character.
Since then, two more books have both caught my eye and resonated with my soul: “Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings,” published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and “Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success” (Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies, or “Fat Envelopes”), both of which are available for checkout at the Truckee Library.
“Building Resilience” is written by Ken Ginsburg, a pediatrician who specializes in adolescent medicine. As an adolescent doctor, the early years of his career focused on teens’ problem behaviors. It became clear that “picking up the pieces” was not the right approach. Rather, the solution had to be in raising children prepared to thrive and equipped to make wise decisions. Recognizing this, the focus of his work shifted to supporting parents.
Ginsburg translates research and practice into practical approaches that parents, professionals and communities can use to build resilience in children and teens. Two core principles guide his approach. First, it is the healthy connection — the unwavering strong relationship — between parent and child that is the essential element that prepares a young person to thrive. Second, most behaviors we fear in adolescents are misguided attempts to cope with stress. Therefore, if we are to reduce the risk in our children’s lives, we need to equip them, starting in early childhood, to address life’s challenges in healthy ways.
“Teach Your Children Well” is written by Madeline Levine, a psychologist who brings together cutting-edge research and 30 years of clinical experience to explode once and for all the myth that good grades, high test scores, and college acceptances should not define the parenting endgame. Until we are more clear about our core values and the parenting choices that are most likely to lead to authentic, and not superficial, success, we will continue to raise exhausted, externally driven, and emotionally impaired children who believe they are only as good as their last performance.
Real success is always an inside job, asserts Levine, and is measured not by today’s report card but by the people our children become 15 or 20 years down the line.
Levine refuses to be diverted by manufactured controversies such as “tiger moms versus coddling moms.” She shows us how to shift our focus from the excesses of hyper-parenting and the unhealthy reliance on our children for status and meaning to a parenting style that concentrates on both enabling academic success and developing a sense of purpose, well-being, and connection in our children’s lives.
For the next few months of this column, I will outline the excellent ideas presented in these two books, covering not only what we can do individually as parents but what we can do collectively as a concerned community to help raise authentically successful and resilient children.
Teri Andrews Rinne is the Children’s Services Librarian at the Truckee Library, 10031 Levon Ave., Truckee. Call 530-582-7846 or visit www.mynevadacounty.com/library.