How to Raise Successful People – Parenting Advice from Esther Wojcicki on The goop Podcast

Check Out The goop Podcast Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Subconsciously, parents tend to parent the way they were parented
  • Avoid micromanaging your child; children don’t need a packed schedule of activities 
    • “You have to remember, as a parent, you’re setting patterns that are going to last a lifetime. All you have to do is be loving. You don’t have to provide a smorgasbord of activities every day.”Esther Wojcicki
  • The world is safer than ever; give your children some independence 
  • Parenting advice that never fails: RELAX (stop worrying; your child will be just fine)
  • It’s better for a child to be a big fish in a small pond (as opposed to a small fish in a big pond)
  • Attending an Ivy League school isn’t necessary for a valuable college experience

Books Mentioned

  • Esther advises every parent to read chapter 3 of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath, titled ‘Big Fish, Little Pond’
  • In his forward to Esther’s first book, Moonshots in Education, James Franco echoed the importance of believing in your child’s ambitions

Intro

Forget Limiting a Child’s Screen Time

  • “I don’t believe in limiting a child’s screen time; I believe kids should learn to manage their phones themselves” – Esther Wojcicki
    • Esther’s advice: Sit down with your child and let them come up with their own screen time policy (this way, they’re more likely to stick to it)

Subconsciously, Parents Parent the Way They Were Parented

  • (Parents tend to relive their childhoods through their children)
  • Hence, it’s essential to “parent on a conscious level”
    • How so? – By following Esther’s ‘TRICK’ acronym:
      • Trust: Are you trusting your child? 
        • For instance, trust them to make a healthy breakfast themselves
      • Respect: Are you respecting your child’s ideas?
      • Independence: Are you giving your child independence?
      • Collaboration: Are you collaborating with your child and accepting their input?
      • Kindness: Are you kind to your child?

Every Parent Makes Mistakes (There is No Perfect Parenting)

  • “All parents need to know that there is no perfect parenting. No matter whether you were the greatest parent or not, your kids are always going to find something that they wish you would have done differently.” – Esther Wojcicki

For Children, Creativity Comes from Boredom

  • “If a child is always being entertained and always being taken from one activity to another, they have no opportunity to be creative because they’re always scheduled. That’s one of the things that parents need to remember.” Esther Wojcicki
    • Let children be bored—some good comes from it!

Parenting Advice

  • When all else fails, follow your gut
  • “You have to remember, as a parent, you’re setting patterns that are going to last a lifetime. All you have to do is be loving. You don’t have to provide a smorgasbord of activities every day.” – Esther Wojcicki
  • Don’t force-feed your child/give them food every time they’re crying—this sets up a bad pattern; every time the child’s emotionally upset, they’ll want to eat
  • RELAX—your child will be just fine
    • If they’re not potty trained by age 3, no problem 
    • If your child can’t read by first grade, no problem

Esther Instilled a Sense of Self-Confidence and Independence in Her Children

  • Esther’s goal in raising her three daughters was to teach them to be independent/protect themselves as soon as possible; she did so by:
    • Teaching them plant botany (so they’d be able to identify poisonous plants)
    • Teaching them to swim (at a younger than usual age)
    • Having them memorize their home phone number
    • Esther adds: “It turned out I was empowering them … I realize they were self-confident, and it was because they felt like they could handle their environment and had control.”
      • (And when a child feels like they lack control, they throw a temper tantrum)

The World is Safer Than Ever; Give Your Children Autonomy

  • Data suggests the world is safer than ever before 
    • Because of this: “Culturally, we need to be more supportive of parents allowing children to have independence and autonomy” – Elise Loehnen
      • “Years ago, when I was growing up as a 6-year-old, I walked to school for three-quarters of a mile by myself; nobody thought that was unusual. Today, people are afraid to do that.” – Esther Wojcicki
  • “How do you expect kids to learn to cope with life if they’re always overprotected?” – Esther Wojcicki
    • “We want to empower kids, and we can’t empower them as long as we’re helicoptering over them … I changed the term ‘helicopter parent’ to ‘snowplow parent,’ the kind of parent that clears the way of every obstacle.”

Let Go

  • “Parents try to always make sure their child is always safe and happy, but the responsibility for happiness is really with the child. You provide the opportunities for them to do a variety of activities, but their happiness is on them—they have to have some responsibilities.” – Esther Wojcicki

As a Parent, Avoid Micromanaging Your Child

  • “When you’re micromanaging, what you’re doing is disempowering your child because they feel that they need you in order to do something.”Esther Wojcicki
  • Taking a hands-off approach to parenting gives the child a feeling of control/that they’re in charge 
    • “And all you have to do is feel in charge in one area of your life, and then it spreads to other areas” – Esther Wojcicki
    • That said, ensure your child that if they need help, you’ll always be there (like a safety net)
  • “It’s crucial for parents to realize that being lazy and not planning some activity for your child on a Saturday morning is not a bad thing. Let your child plan; let them do whatever they want to do.” – Esther Wojcicki

🎧 Big Fish, Little Pond > Little Fish, Big Pond

  • Esther advises every parent to read chapter 3 of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath, titled ‘Big Fish, Little Pond’
  • Esther expands: “Is it better for your child to be in a fancy Ivy League school where they’re at the bottom of the heap (they’re a little fish), or is it better for them to attend a school that’s not as well-known but where they’re the big fish. The research shows that it’s best for them to be a big fish in a little pond.”
    • Why? – How you feel about yourself is the key to your success and your happiness in life

Parents Must Believe in Their Child’s Ambitions

  • Stop worrying; your child will be just fine (and one of the ways they’ll be just fine is if you as a parent believe in them)
    • “It’s important to believe in whatever your child wants to do” – Esther Wojcicki
    • (James Franco echoed this advice in his forward to Esther’s first book, Moonshots in Education)

🎧 Attending an Ivy League School Isn’t Necessary for a Valuable College Experience

  • “What you learn in college is not just the degree; you learn a lot of social interaction skills, you learn how to get along with others, and you’re exposed to all different kinds of subject matter. That said, I’m not convinced that where you get this experience is as important as people say.” – Esther Wojcicki