Breaking Free From Overparenting

A book I highly recommended, How to Raise an Adult – Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, speaks very directly and clearly about the risks of micromanaging. Schools are places for mistakes, do-overs, temporary failures, and steps both forward and backward. When faculty and parents are on the same page about this prerequisite for future success, we see boys who develop self-confidence, self-efficacy, and character. As Julie Lythcott-Haims says, “Keep a kid safe and create opportunities for a child to think independently and take risks, build character – that’s part of being a great parent (and teacher – my words). I’m not failing or neglecting them by doing that – I am doing what’s right for their future.” This approach allows the boys to also be invested in the process. We then have the three-legged stool image that is so often referred to when speaking of effective communication and teamwork. When all three legs of the stool (parents, school, student) are the proper length and securely fastened, we have a very stable foundation on which to stand or sit. There is a high level of functionality and purpose. As the “adult legs” of the stool, we have the greatest responsibility in this process of raising adults. Sometimes it means just letting go and allowing for the boys to navigate some difficult situations on their own. There are other situations where we have to partner in the process of helping these young “men in the making” find their way. Then, we can share in the joy that comes when young boys make adult decisions and take ownership and responsibility for their actions.

Randy Woods

Randy Woods

Mr. Woods is the Middle School Director and has been at St. Paul's in various capacities since 1984. He can be reached at

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