Ever wonder why it is that previous generations were able to have to many kids and still manage to keep the house in one piece? Ever stop to consider why it is so hard to make time for your spouse? And have you ever stopped to consider what the long term effects of your parenting are? If you have ever pondered any of these questions, The Dolphin Way is a must read. In it, Dr. Shimi Kang proposes a different parenting model, one that is much more of a throw back to the way previous generations were raised, before the advent of terms like Tiger Mom, overscheduling, and downtime.
People who have made mistakes and learn from them are the best teachers. Dr. Kang made the classic Tiger parenting mistakes early enough to learn and correct them before they permanently changed her family. She realized early on just how dramatically her own childhood was from the one she and her husband with giving their two children. She and her husband both had demanding careers, but was that it, really? No, attempting to mould their children into the perfect human was robbing their of their child hood. And her own ‘lack’ over extra-curricular activities (read: none) clearly didn’t stop her from succeeding in life. So, just how important is it to make sure your child is Valedictorian, science fair winner, concert pianist, and team captain? According to her extensive research, it makes absolutely no difference at all.
Differentiating between Tiger Parent and Jellyfish Parent, Dr. Kang concludes they end up with the same unmotivated, non-self directed, low-confidence children. Having never learned, from the safety of still being in the family nest, how to make decisions on their own, how to survive the negative effects of their decisions, and how to pick themselves up and move on to bigger things, the children of Tigers and Jellyfish waffle and wobble their way into the real world. This may, in fact, account for the extremely late age at which so many of today’s generation leave home. If the end game for parenting is working towards independence, today’s prevailing methodology seems to be failing miserably. I am not sure so many of today’s athletes and rock stars entitled as they oblivious to the concept of self-control and responsibility.
But The Dolphin Way not only analyzes the problem but also offers solutions. Dr. Kang walks readers through a four-part method for bringing parenting back to the intuition-based thing it has been for so long. Rather than stressing rules and regimens, she shows you how to instil adaptability, resilience, and self-motivation, preparing our children for a future that will require all that and more. Using thought-provoking real life examples from her work as the director for Child and Youth Mental Health for Vancouver, I would be shocked if this book did not make almost any parents take a long, hard look at themselves and their schedule and the life they are leading and ask some very hard questions. What I can only hope is that parents will implement the answers.
Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of this book for review purposes. No other compensation was received. All opinions are honest and my own.