Mogel Critiques Over-Parenting

By Kate Rogers, Special to the Independent

Coffee Break committee chair Cindy Newman-Jacobs, left; and Dr. Wendy Mogel.

Coffee Break committee chair Cindy Newman-Jacobs, left; and Dr. Wendy Mogel.

Over 140 people filled the Aliso Creek Inn as Dr. Wendy Mogel delivered her unique blend of humor and wisdom during PTA’s Coffee Break parenting workshop.

A practicing child psychologist for years, she has authored “The Blessings of a Skinned Knee,” and “The Blessings of a B Minus.” Filled with wisdom about our current culture of child-rearing, she delivered her perspective and wicked humor to the room full of parents and held up the mirror for all.

Mogel described a group of Manhattan parents visiting Disneyland who hired handicapped people as guides so that their children wouldn’t wait in line. This struck a chord in the room as many realized gaming the system when it comes to furthering the success of their own children.

Ultimately, parents who intervene too much raise children without resiliency or the confidence to know who they are or what they want. As an example, Mogel described a young woman texting her mother from the salad bar. “Mom, do I like Russian dressing?”

Dr. Mogel offered her 12-step program for “Over-Parenting Anonymous,” as follows:

  1. Don’t mistake the snapshot for the overview. Children develop at different paces. “Your child may never need meds, tutors, etc.”
  2. Before you nag, criticize, praise or chime-in, wait. Ask “why am I talking?” Though we may be tempted to be the director, curator and producer, our children are developing on their own.
  3. Resist reacting to each emotion. Get kids in the habit of solving their problems by asking, “what’s your plan? Who do you think might have advice about this?”
  4. Remember disappointment is a necessary preparation for adult life.
  5. Be alert to, but not alarmed by potential discomfort or danger.  We don’t want to raise “hot house flowers” which are beautiful but too fragile to go the distance.
  6. Don’t try to be popular with children, and don’t parent by consensus.
  7. Don’t fret over what can’t be changed. “If your child has the talent to be a baker, don’t try to turn him into a doctor.” Remember that differences are not deficiencies, and don’t require diagnoses and medication.
  8. Learn to love the words: trial and error. Give children more freedoms based on their demonstrated accountability.
  9. Don’t do for a kid what they can do for themselves.
  10. Give children chores and expect them to get paid jobs. Don’t “worship the test” and let this be an excuse for kids to not help around the house.
  11. Quit taking it personally. Kids are holding it together all day at school and can only relax in the safety of home. Sometimes this will get ugly.
  12. Resist overscheduling your children and yourself.

Mogel closed with an excerpt from poet Rainer Maria Rilke. “Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.”


Parent Kate Rogers is involved with Coffee Break’s organization.

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