In terms of preparing kids for life, we might examine how the famous were parented to see what contributed to their greatness . In Cradles of Eminence: Childhoods of More than Seven Hundred Famous Men and Women by Victor Goertzel, Mildred G. Goertzel, Ted George Goertzel, the authors study the childhoods of the most outstanding individuals of our age—individuals like Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire, Mahatma Gandhi, Lou Gehrig, Mother Teresa, Bill Gates and Tiger Woods.
What did these individuals seem to have in common growing up? Not what you might have thought:
1. They had strong mothers;
2. They grew up feeling “different” from others;
3. While their families valued education, as children, few liked school, and still fewer liked their teachers;
4. Most had at least one ambitious parent who was striving;
5. Their parents were highly opinionated and often held unconventional opinions;
6. Many of the parents—especially mothers—dominated their children’s lives.
At first glance, it might seem these parents strongly indoctrinated their children into their own expectations. But there are important clues to the contrary.
First, the children felt “different” from others, a strong indication they were experiencing their own spirit and unique potential. Second, their dislike of school probably stemmed from its impersonal nature; they were being treated very individually at home and like a number at school. Finally, their accomplishments in life could not have been achieved without the careful development of their unique potential and spirit in childhood by their primary teachers: parents.
I think the striking thing about their upbringing was that they were inspired by the spirit of at least one of their parents, which in turn encouraged them to follow their own spirit in life, and thus at a minimum, deal with their imperfections.
But the fact that none of them raised a “famous” individual themselves probably says that their parents did not raise them with parenting skills and excellence.
Parenting is the real frontier our society needs to tackle.