Having Kids Who Are Successful When They’re Thirty

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Excerpt From Gather As You Go: Sharing Lessons Learned Along The Way

My oldest son, Craig, was put in the lowest reading group in first grade. I was dumbfounded. He was smart and energetic, but I later found out that while all the other (highly competitive) moms had taught their kids to read before they started school, I had not. OMG, I couldn't believe what I had done to my son. I immediately created homemade flash cards, and we reviewed them at breakfast and dinner every day. After a month, he moved up one reading level and six weeks later, he moved up another level; he stayed in the next-to-highest level and did great. But I had a new mission: I would not think of doing anything after work until HOMEWORK WAS DONE—not my homework, his. This went on through first and second grade.

Luckily for me, I went to a YPO University in the spring of his second-grade year and heard two fantastic speakers talk about raising kids. Basically, they convinced me over the two-day seminar that what I needed to do was build resilient kids who could thrive when they were adults—even if that meant they got C’s or B’s instead of A's in school. The argument was pretty convincing: if you do your kids’ homework, you are pretty much telling them they can’t do it without you. You are setting them up to fail if they can’t count on you being by their sides all the time to help them get through school and life. And frankly, it is often easier to just do the work for them. Don’t—even if it means a lousy grade. You are hurting, not helping. That weekend changed my life and my kids’ lives, and I am positive it was for the better. Sure, I quizzed them on spelling words and very occasionally helped with a major project. But 95 percent or more of their work from that point on was done exclusively by them. I am positive it helped me to raise capable adults.

Carol Lavin Bernick

This content is an excerpt from Gather As You Go by Carol Lavin Bernick. To learn more, please GatherAsYouGo.com.

About Carol Lavin Bernick: Carol is a former executive chairman of Alberto Culver, civic leader, working mother and philanthropist. She is the author of Gather As You Go: Sharing Lessons Learned Along The Way, a collection of short, digestible stories that offer powerful lessons, key insights and helpful tips based on her life experiences. Visit Carol’s online community at www.gatherasyougo.com to read more about her wisdoms. Net proceeds from sales of the book benefit Enchanted Backpack, a nonprofit that delivers school supply essentials and more to 20,000 students from under-resourced elementary and middle schools each year.