Martha Beck discusses raising difficult children.
The secrets to raising difficult children, oh my, I wish someone would tell me. No, I have had wonderful children but I have had children with a variety of different issues.
One child with severe ADD who is brilliant, another child with Down Syndrome who is very relaxed and mellow, and one child who is just a hyper-achiever.
So I am not sure there’s any such thing as an easy child to raise, but what I will say is that the best mothers, the best fathers are those who are willing to be taught by their children.
There’s a wonderful quote that I love from Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, which says , all streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are, humility gives it its power.
And the best way to raise children as far as I have been able to figure out is the same as coaching.
You basically tell the child what you think is best and then you ask the child for his or her feedback and you listen. You let the stream flow to the sea.
When children feel hurt and seen and when they know why you are doing what you are doing, even if they don’t agree with it they know that they are loved.
And as my children have gotten older and more mature we have been able to discuss the mistakes I made with them when they were younger.
And it turns out that they are brilliantly tuned in to my own shortcomings and so forgiving of me when I am willing to talk to them openly.
So as they grow it gets easier and easier, better and better but from the very beginning openness and listening is more important than what you tell them.
About Martha Beck:
Martha Beck, Ph.D., is a writer and life coach who specializes in helping people design satisfying and meaningful life experiences. She holds a bachelor's degree in East Asian Studies and master's and Ph.D. degrees in sociology, all from Harvard University. She has published academic books and articles on a variety of social science and business topics.
Her non-academic books include the New York Times bestsellers “Expecting Adam” and “Leaving the Saints,” as well as “Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live” and her newest book, “Steering by Starlight.” Dr. Beck has also been a contributing editor for many popular magazines, including Real Simple and Redbook, and is currently a columnist for O, the Oprah Magazine.