Beit T’Shuvah, a residential treatment center in West Los Angeles, kicked off its over parenting awareness campaign with Author Julie Lythcott-Haines, who discussed her recent best selling book, “How to Raise an Adult.” A crowd of students, parents and interested community members gathered at Beit T’Shuvah’s Elaine Breslow Institute for information on what defines helicopter parenting, and why it can be detrimental.
“We give children the unintended message… you can’t do this without me,” explained Lythcott-Haines. “Over parenting is letting our children off the hook and not teaching them to be accountable. We are ruining the future of our children.”
In the book, “How to Raise an Adult” over parenting is divided into three categories: overprotecting, overdirecting, and hand-holding. Some suggestions to change course include stopping activities like: doing their homework, solving their problems, interacting with adults on their behalf, referring to “we” in relation to your kids’ activities.
The Founder of Beit T’Shuvah, Harriet Rossetto, is referenced frequently in the book based on her experiences at her residential treatment center in treating privileged children who not only suffered from a failure to launch due to overparenting, but went down the dark path of addiction. Ms. Rossetto has spent nearly 30 years helping young adults or grown children, as she calls them, separate from their parents. The process has also involved intense counseling with parents to help them recognize the importance of letting go of their control and expectations, even if that means seeing their son or daughter fail.
Bringing in Julie Lythcott-Haines to have this discussion is the first of many parenting outreaches planned through the year. In October, Rossetto will conduct a workshop with Lisa Miller, author of “The Spiritual Child.” In addition, throughout the year Beit T’Shuvah’s educational team will integrate over-parenting advice and concerns in weekly group meetings with students at school sites throughout the Los Angeles area.
“The pressure to get the top grades, be the best athlete, and get into the best schools isn’t worth the pain that it builds,” says Rossetto. “Parents don’t have to be perfect, and neither do children. It’s facing and then dealing with challenges that make us healthier and more complete human beings.”
Rather than defining this trend as narcissism, Rossetto views it as a medical condition, a trauma imposed by those with the very best intentions. “The benefit of viewing this condition through the trauma lens rather than the personality disorder lens is that the latter is static, the former infinitely repairable,” explains Rossetto. “The label narcissistic personality brands you for life; trauma views adaptive behavior as a learned way of being that can be unlearned.” Ms. Rossetto adds she sees this most frequently in families privileged enough to have the time and inclination to be over-involved in their children’s lives.
The book “How to Raise an Adult” references a study by Beit T’Shuvah in 2013, that found the rates of depression and anxiety among affluent teens and young adults correspond to the rates of depression and anxiety suffered by incarcerated juveniles. “These kids have had all their decisions made for them, and when they get to college they’re lost,” said Rossetto. “They’re in pain and they seek to anesthetize that with drugs or other harmful activities like alcohol, gambling, or mutilation.”
The same year, the American College Health Association surveyed close to 100,000 college students and found 84.3% felt overwhelmed, 60.5% felt sad, 51.3% felt overwhelming anxiety, 31.8% felt so depressed that it was difficult to function, and 8% seriously considered suicide.
Rossetto explained to the audience at the book signing why she feels so many affluent students are not able to make their way on their own. “Their education was focused on, their passion was ignored, and they became content with having their parents plan their futures,” said Rossetto. “Parents must immediately take a step back, because we know now without a doubt that the inclination toward over-parenting is devastating to both the child and the parents.”
To learn more on the over-parenting educational outreach by Beit T’Shuvah visit www.beittshuvah.org or call 310-204-5200, and to learn more about Julie Lythcott-Haines or to buy her book visit www.HowtoRaiseanAdult.com.
photographer credit: Justin Rosenberg, Creative Matters Agency
About Beit T’Shuvah (Bate-t’shoo-vah)
Beit T’Shuvah is a nonprofit treatment center and education institution dedicated to guiding individuals and families toward a path of living well in order to recover from addiction. T’Shuvah translates to repentance and return. Beit T’Shuvah is hebrew for The House of Return. The program started 30 years ago and through charitable donations continues to provide treatment to people who have limited or no financial resources. www.beittshuvah.org
About Harriet Rossetto
Harriet Rossetto is the founder and executive vice president of Beit T’Shuvah, a residential treatment center and educational institution in West Los Angeles. Her belief that addiction is a malady of the soul inspired her to create a community that for 30 years has supported the process of recovery through spiritual healing. The Obama administration selected her this summer as an Advocate for Action, a national role model for her unique approach to addiction prevention and called on her to advise on national drug control policy. The Bush administration recognized her work with recovering Jewish addicts as an example of why the government should support faith based efforts. Harriet’s been honored with the Alan Kassin award for professional achievement from the Jewish Communal Professionals, the Vision Philanthropy Award, and the Isaiah Award from the Jewish Federation for filling an unmet community need. Rossetto has also authored her own spiritual memoir, “Sacred Housekeeping.” Click here to download the Press Kit on Ms. Rossetto.
LAURA NIX GERSON is the CEO of Nix|Gerson Media and the Founder of MomAngeles a site she launched because she was planning a lot of playdates and her friends kept asking her where to go and what to do. So it seemed easier just to put it all online in one place. In a past life Laura was a publicist, event marketer and web producer….oh wait, she still is. Laura has contributed to Modern Mom, CBS Local and Babble. Her greatest joy is story telling, sharing local finds and connecting people. Follow her @MomAngeles.