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Crane School Blog: Focus on Learning

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Good Enough Parenting
Jennifer Bochsler

Over the last few months, I’ve stepped into a new lens of an educator: I am now a doting mother. As my sixth-month old princess explores her world, I want to do everything to keep her healthy and strong. Even though she is only 16 pounds, I’m already thinking, How do I best protect her? How much do I bumper-pad my house? What are safe risks for her? 

Over the last few months, I’ve stepped into a new lens of an educator: I am now a doting mother. As my sixth-month old princess explores her world, I want to do everything to keep her healthy and strong. Even though she is only 16 pounds, I’m already thinking, How do I best protect her? How much do I bumper-pad my house? What are safe risks for her? 

As I sift through these anxieties, I realize they will not diminish. Soon baby-proofing will turn into pre-school selection which will turn into colleges. I will do my best for her, but when is my best enough? 

What is enough in parenting? 

I’m part of a mom group that shares our newborn musings, announcing our weekly victories and woes. It reminds me to celebrate the small triumphs (i.e. my child just slept through the night—nailed it!) and celebrate the fiascos (I think I overdosed her on rice cereal—mom fail!) This concept of “nailed it/failed it” is endearing to me. Both triumphs and flops can be honored.

If I both fail and fly, my daughter will too. But how do I let her see this? 

Children don’t arrive with instruction manuals. We are left with the wisdom of our elders, our gut instincts, and research to guide our paths. Research tells me that the more I “helicopter” my daughter, circling round her every move, and the more I “snowplow” her life, removing every obstacle from her path, the less successful she may become. My best protective intentions could actually impede her growth. Why? Studies show that over-parented children become less resilient, less independent, and less capable of problem solving. These children may qualify for the most elite colleges, but they are dropping out in droves when faced with adult-life complexities. 

On the flip side, the best predictors of success are risk taking, pro-social skills such as kindness and cooperation, and the ability to persevere through adversity. Grit is experiential learning at its best, yet those experiences are not always pleasant! This is hard for a new mom to swallow. If I want the best for my daughter, it will mean holding myself back… letting her experience scraped knees, forgotten backpacks, the poor grade when she doesn’t study. It may mean, in moments where I could do more, I actually do less. 

Doing less is not my forte. I am a New Yorker at heart, where there are always more doors to pound on. Yet the latest research on success flips the parenting question from Am I doing enough? to Am I doing too much? 

I never thought my bucket list for my daughter would include her ability to risk, fall, and keep rolling. I much prefer hopes of academic awards and athletic medals. They are way more charming. But as a new mom, I am committed to celebrate her own “nailed it/failed it” moments because that is her best chance of success. If I’m most honest, my hopes for her are self-reflective, highlighting my own fears of simply being enough. I want her to know she is enough. What other gift could one ask for? 


Jennifer Bochsler 
Upper School Learning Specialist

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