Julie Lythcott-Haims

Author
Former Dean of Freshmen, Stanford University

Expert: Julie Haimes

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the author of the New York Times best-selling book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.

The book emerged from her decade as Stanford University’s Dean of Freshmen, where she was known for her fierce advocacy for young adults and received the university’s Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for creating “the” atmosphere that defines the undergraduate experience, and was also known for her fierce critique of the growing trend of parental involvement in the day-to-day lives of college students.

Toward the end of her tenure as dean she began speaking and writing widely on the harm of helicopter parenting. How to Raise an Adult is being published in over two dozen countries, and gave rise to a TED talk that became one of the top TED Talks of 2016 as well as a sequel which will be out in 2018. In the meantime, her memoir on race, Real American, will be out in Fall 2017. Julie is a graduate of Stanford University, Harvard Law School, and California College of the Arts. She lives in Silicon Valley with her partner of over twenty five years, their two teenagers, and her mother.

More From This Expert

graduation

How to Let Go

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BODY <p>You’ve raised them, fed them, taught them, and now it’s time to let them go. Your “baby” is now a young adult, and they’re striking out on their own. It’s normal for you both to feel a range of different emotions. You may be sad, excited, proud, and terrified all at the same time. But as hard as it may be, letting go is the right –and healthy—thing for both of you.</p> <p>“We’re mammals,” points out Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshmen at Stanford University. “Even though we wear clothing and carry cell phones, like every other mammal parent we need to raise offspring who can fend for themselves out in the world without us. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that our job as parents is actually to put ourselves out of a job.”</p> <p>If you’re finding the transition hard, or even if you’re not, keeping a few things in mind can make the process feel a little less overwhelming. </p>
BODYES <p>Los criaste, les diste de comer, les enseñaste muchas cosas y ahora llegó el momento de dejarlos ir. Tu “bebé” ahora es un adulto joven, y está iniciando su propio camino. Es normal que ambos sientan emociones encontradas. Podrán sentirse tristes, entusiasmados, orgullosos y aterrados, todo al mismo tiempo. Pero por más difícil que parezca, dejarlo ir es la opción correcta y saludable para los dos.</p> <p>“Somos mamíferos”, señala Julie Lythcott-Haims, exdecana de estudiantes de primer año en Stanford University. “Aunque usemos ropa y hablemos por celular, al igual que cualquier otro mamífero necesitamos criar seres que puedan valerse en el mundo por sí solos. No perdamos de vista que nuestro trabajo como padres es, en verdad, ir abandonando ese trabajo”.</p> <p>Si esta transición te resulta difícil, o aunque no sea el caso, tener presentes algunas cuestiones puede hacer que el proceso sea menos abrumador.</p>
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Parents and teen

Young Adult Identity Development: A Parent’s Guide

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BODYES <blockquote>“Me siento tan entusiasmada por la libertad que tendré cuando me gradúe del secundario. <em>La libertad que estoy buscando no se trata de escapar de mi familia o algo por el estilo, sino la libertad de ir a la universidad y de ser yo misma”. Lexie Ruckman, estudiante del último año, Summersville, WV</em></blockquote> <p>A lo largo de toda su vida, tus hijos han ido desarrollando un sentido de identidad y de autoconocimiento. Habrás notado que ganaron confianza en sí mismos alrededor de la pubertad o de los 13-14 años. Pero es probable que no haya un mejor momento para el desarrollo de la identidad que en los años posteriores al secundario. Entre los 18 y los 25 años, tus hijos encontrarán más oportunidades para desarrollar un sentido firme de identidad.</p>
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Moving Out

8 Life Skills Your Teen Needs Before Moving Out

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BODYES <p>Cuando los hijos se mudan para ir a la universidad muchos padres se preguntan “¿Está preparado?”, “¿Estará bien?”. Lo ideal es que poco a poco, y a medida que tus hijos crecen, les asignes cada vez más responsabilidades y tareas. De esta manera, estarán preparados para ser totalmente independientes antes de irse. Pero la realidad es que las actividades cotidianas y otras exigencias de la vida suelen interponerse en el camino de la enseñanza de estas habilidades clave, si no básicas. Estas son las ocho cosas que, según nuestros expertos, todo adolescente debe ser capaz de hacer para ser un adulto joven responsable e independiente. </p> <p>¿Tu hijo sabe... </p>
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Family of three

Why College Is Not the Same as When I Was in School

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BODY <p>As a parent, you’ve probably started a sentence with “When I was in school…” While this is nothing to be ashamed about—in fact sharing real-life experiences can provide really important wisdom to your kids—the world looks different today than it did when you were in college. In reality, the entire approach to life and work and love for young adults has dramatically shifted. Here are some important changes to recognize as your teen heads off to college.</p>
BODYES <p>Como padre, probablemente hayas comenzado una oración diciendo: “Cuando yo estudiaba…” Si bien no es nada de lo debas avergonzarte —de hecho compartir experiencias de la vida real puede aportarles sabiduría importante a tus hijos— el mundo es diferente hoy de lo que era <em>cuando</em> <em>tú estabas en la universidad</em>. En realidad, todo el enfoque hacia la vida, el trabajo y el amor ha sufrido un cambio drástico para los adultos jóvenes. A continuación se tratan algunos cambios importantes para tener en cuenta mientras tu hijo adolescente parte hacia la universidad. </p>
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girl moves out

How Often Should You Talk After Your Teen Moves Out?

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BODY <p>The post-high school years have a lot of changes in store for parents and teens. One of the biggest is when they move out of your home. Whether they’re going off to college or moving to a new town for work, the day they move out is a monumental one. Assuming you’ve lived with your teen the majority of their life, it’s a big adjustment for both of you. So as your teenager’s last day at home approaches, it’s normal to wonder if you’ll ever hear from them again. But don’t worry; chances are good that <a href="mailto:http://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-12-2012/how-to-parent-adult-children.html">you will</a>! </p> <p>Parent Toolkit informally surveyed 11 <a href="http://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/youth-advisory-board">members</a> of Harvard University’s Making Caring Common Youth Advisory Board, some who are also youth advisors to Parent Toolkit. We asked how often they plan to communicate with their parents after they move out. All of the respondents are either current juniors or seniors in high school and the average response was a couple of times per week, with some saying more and some saying less. Those with siblings already living outside of the home planned to maintain the relationship their siblings had already modeled with their parents. </p> <p>Jasman, a junior from Hightstown, New Jersey responds, “I think I’ll talk to them at least a couple of times a week. My brother is in college and he talks to them every other day or more often sometimes, and this is his fourth year in college, so I think I’ll still talk to my parents pretty often. He texts them every day so they stay updated. I’ll probably have a similar relationship with my parents when I move out.”</p> <p>That’s similar for one of our parent advisors, Susanne Smoller. A social worker and mother of two from Long Island, New York, Smoller says her 22-year-old daughter calls two to three times a day from college. Those calls come mostly when her daughter walks to or from class. Mostly, Smoller admits, when her daughter is bored. During the first year away, she would text when going out or arriving home. </p> <p>“It would be 2am and I’d think ‘oh my god,’” Smoller tells Parent Toolkit. “I was just hoping that they’re responsible and had a designated driver.” </p> <p>With her daughter in a different state, Smoller welcomes the contact as it allows her to be supportive of her daughter despite the distance. On a recent call, her daughter talked about how she got a flat tire on the highway and had to get it fixed and pay for it herself. Smoller says it was a great way to see that her daughter is a capable adult who can handle herself. And when times are not going as well, Smoller is there to offer words of encouragement. </p> <p>Similarly, the Youth Advisory Board’s open-ended responses added that they also hoped to be able to reach out to their parents for support. </p> <p>“I would probably contact my parents three to four times a week. My parents always keep me accountable, and if I need an extra boost of motivation, I can come to them,” responds Ricky, a junior in Suwanee, Georgia. </p> <p>But this time of life is difficult for parents and young (or emerging) adults as well. It’s a time when the relationship between parent and child has to change. As a parent, you may want to consider what level of communication and involvement is best for your family. </p> <p>In her best-selling book, <em>How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare your Kid for Success</em>, Julie Lythcott-Haims devotes the first two parts outlining ways in which parents these days are overinvolved, at the cost of their children’s abilities to be independent thinkers and adults. In one chapter, “Being There for Them,” Lythcott-Haims provides example after example of parents who are too involved in their children’s lives. For example, parents of military cadets calling the colonel when their son didn’t make the cut for airborne school, and parents emailing teachers and even college professors to disagree with a grade or punishment their student received.</p> <p> A clinical psychologist and instructor, Dr. Bobbi Wegner sees a lot of adult parents and students who struggle with the changing relationship between parents and their kids during the “emerging adulthood” transition. She recommends parents allow their kids room to be independent, and if constant communication is something that a parent wants, to identify the reason behind that. Is it for you, or your teen?</p> <p>“Kids are actually managing a lot of the parents’ anxiety in some way,” Wegner says. “The kids are tuned into the fact that talking to the child, or having their parent call them, provides relief to the parent.”</p> <p>Wegner mentions a student who calls her mother multiple times a day, even if she has nothing to talk about, just to keep her mom from getting stressed out. This is not an example of a student actively wanting to engage with their family, but rather going for the path of least resistance. Another student, a PhD candidate, must go home for dinner once or twice a week to avoid an argument with her family.</p> <p><a href="http://www.parenttoolkit.com/index.cfm?objectid=42715070-2A8B-11E3-823F0050569A5318">Dr. Shari Sevier</a>, Licensed Professional Counselor and Director of Advocacy at the Missouri School Counselor Association, believes parents need to learn to let go. She went by the “no news is good news” mantra when her kids where in college. Her advice is to not fret over the “right” amount of time to communicate. She says that at the very least, teens will reach out when they need something, or when something has gone wrong. </p> <p>“This type of communication is a good time to ask, ‘So what are you going to do about that?’” Sevier says. “In other words, don’t rush to rescue.” </p> <p>Sevier reminds that your young adult is just that – an adult. There’s no better time for them to learn to stand on their own two feet than when they are out in the world on their own. </p> <p>So when it comes to how often you “should” talk with your teen, the answer really relies on your relationship with your kid, and what feels healthy and comfortable for you both. Dr. Wegner says there is no right or wrong way to handle the amount of communication you have, but it is a part of negotiating your new relationship with your emerging adult. She recommends parents sit down and have a conversation about the parameters of your new relationship, including how often you plan to talk. Then, be flexible. Your emerging adult is navigating a whole new world and may need you more or less at times. That’s normal, and part of your changing relationship.  </p>
BODYES <p> Uno de los más grandes es que cuando dejan la casa. Ya sea que se vayan a la universidad o se muden a otra ciudad para trabajar, el día en el que se mudan es muy trascendental. Si has vivido con tu hijo adolescente la mayor parte de su vida, será un gran cambio para los dos. Por eso, a medida que se acerque el último día de tu hijo en la casa, es normal preguntarse si volverás a saber algo de él. Pero no te preocupes; ¡las chances están <a href="mailto:http://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-12-2012/how-to-parent-adult-children.html">de tu lado</a>!</p> <p>Parent Toolkit encuestó de manera informal a 11 <a href="http://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/youth-advisory-board">miembros</a> del Making Caring Common Youth Advisory Board de Harvard University, algunos de los cuales son asesores en temas de juventud De Parent Toolkit. Les preguntamos con qué frecuencia pensaban comunicarse con sus padres después de la mudanza. Todos los encuestados son estudiantes del penúltimo o último año de la escuela secundaria, y la respuesta promedio fue: un par de veces por semana; algunos dijeron más y otros menos. Aquellos que tenían hermanos que ya se habían ido de la casa pensaban mantener la relación que sus hermanos establecieron con sus padres.</p> <p>Jasman Singh, un estudiante del penúltimo año de Hightstown, New Jersey, respondió: “Creo que hablaré con ellos, al menos, dos veces por semana. Mi hermano está en la universidad y habla con ellos día por medio o más seguido a veces, y este ya es su cuarto año en la universidad, así que pienso que hablaré con mis padres bastante seguido. Les envía mensajes todos los días para que estén al tanto de todas las novedades. Probablemente tenga una relación similar con mis padres cuando me mude”.</p> <p>Algo parecido le ocurre a nuestra asesora de padres, Susanne Smoller. Trabajadora social y madre de dos hijos, de Long Island, New York, Smoller nos cuenta que su hija de 22 años la llama de dos a tres veces por día desde la universidad. Esas llamadas suelen darse cuando su hija va caminando de una clase a otra. Mayormente, admite Smoller, cuando su hija está aburrida. En el primer año, le enviaba mensajes cuando salía o llegaba a casa.</p> <p>“Eran las 2 a.m. y yo pensaba ‘Dios mío’. Ojalá sean responsables y tengan un conductor designado”, le cuenta Smoller a Parent Toolkit.</p> <p>Con su hija en otro estado, Smoller está agradecida de tener este contacto para poder acompañar a su hija a pesar de la distancia. En una de las últimas llamadas, su hija le contó que se le había desinflado un neumático en la carretera, y que tuvo que pedir ayuda y pagarlo por sus propios medios. Smoller asegura que fue una gran oportunidad para ver que su hija es toda una adulta que puede arreglarse por sí sola. Y cuando llegan tiempos difíciles, Smoller está allí para darle palabras de aliento.</p> <p>Del mismo modo, las respuestas del Youth Advisory Board agregaron que también esperaban poder comunicarse con sus padres para recibir su apoyo.</p> <p>“Seguramente me contactaré con mis padres de tres a cuatro veces por semana. Ellos siempre me acompañan, y si llego a necesitar una cuota de motivación extra, puedo acudir a ellos”, nos cuenta Ricky Yoo, estudiante del penúltimo año en Suwanee, Georgia.</p> <p>Pero esta etapa de la vida es igual de difícil para padres y jóvenes (o flamantes adultos). Es un momento en el que la relación entre padres e hijos tiene que cambiar. Como padre, quizá quieras considerar qué nivel de comunicación y participación es mejor para tu familia.</p> <p>En su libro tan vendido, <em>How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare your Kid for Success</em>, Julie Lythcott-Haims dedica las primeras dos partes a puntualizar que hoy en día los padres tienen una participación excesiva, y esto tiene un costo en las habilidades de sus hijos para convertirse en pensadores y adultos independientes. En un capítulo, “Being There for Them” (“Estar ahí para ellos”), Lythcott-Haims repite una y otra vez ejemplos de padres demasiado involucrados en la vida de sus hijos. Por ejemplo, padres de cadetes militares que llamaron al Coronel cuando su hijo no pudo ingresar en la escuela de aviación, y padres que les enviaron emails a maestros y hasta profesores universitarios para manifestar su descontento con una calificación o sanción recibida por su hijo.</p> <p>La psicóloga clínica e instructora Dra. Bobbi Wegner se encuentra con muchos padres e hijos que tienen dificultades con esta relación cambiante entre padres e hijos durante la transición a la “adultez emergente”. Ella les recomienda a los padres que les den espacio a sus hijos para que puedan desarrollar su independencia, y que si un padre necesita tener una comunicación constante con su hijo, que trate de identificar la razón detrás de esa necesidad. ¿Es por ti o por tu hijo?</p> <p>“En cierto modo los hijos se encargan de manejar gran parte de la ansiedad de sus padres”, agrega Wegner. “Los jóvenes saben que si se comunican con sus padres les llevarán un gran alivio”.</p> <p>Wegner menciona a una estudiante que llama a su madre varias veces al día, aun cuando no tiene nada en particular para contarle, solo para mantenerla tranquila. Este no es el ejemplo de un estudiante que busca en forma activa involucrar a su familia, sino la elección del camino con la menor resistencia. Otra estudiante, una candidata a un PhD, debe ir a cenar a su casa una o dos veces por semana para evitar pelearse con su familia.</p> <p>La <a href="http://www.parenttoolkit.com/index.cfm?objectid=42715070-2A8B-11E3-823F0050569A5318">Dra. Shari Sevier</a>, consejera estudiantil profesional y directora del departamento de asesoramiento de la Missouri School Counselor Association, considera que los padres deben aprender a soltar. Ella misma recurrió al mantra “si no hay noticias, son buenas noticias” cuando sus hijos estaban en la universidad. Aconseja no preocuparse por la cantidad “adecuada” de tiempo de comunicación. Asegura que, en última instancia, los hijos se comunicarán contigo cuando necesiten algo, o cuando algo les haya salido mal.</p> <p>“Este tipo de comunicación lleva a preguntar: ‘¿qué vas a hacer al respecto?’”, sostiene Sevier. “En otras palabras, no salgas corriendo a su rescate”.</p> <p>Sevier nos recuerda que un adulto joven es eso, un adulto. No existe un mejor momento para que aprendan a valerse por sí solos que cuando están allí afuera solos.</p> <p>Por lo tanto, cuando te preguntes con qué frecuencia “deberías” hablar con tu hijo, la respuesta dependerá de la relación que tengas con él, y qué les resulta saludable y cómodo a ambos. La Dra. Wegner considera que no hay una forma correcta o incorrecta de manejar el caudal de comunicación que tienen, se trata de negociar tu nueva relación con este nuevo adulto. Ella recomienda que los padres se tomen un momento y conversen sobre los parámetros de la nueva relación, sin dejar de lado con qué frecuencia piensan comunicarse. Además, sé flexible. Tu flamante hijo adulto está descubriendo un mundo completamente nuevo y tendrá momentos donde te necesitará más o menos. Eso es normal, y es parte de esta nueva relación.</p>
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