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Overparenting Anonymous

R. Roger Rowe School hosted Dr. Wendy Mogel, author of the best-selling parenting books “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee” and “The Blessing of a B Minus” on May 10.

The funny and engaging Mogel spoke to parents about raising children in a world where entitlement and competition abound and shared tips from her comical 12-step program for Overparenting Anonymous — which over the years has grown to become 36 steps.

Dr. Wendy Mogel signs a book for Principal Kim Pinkerton.
Dr. Wendy Mogel signs a book for Principal Kim Pinkerton. (Karen Billing)

“Think of your kids as wildflowers instead of as Bonzai trees,” Mogel said. “Think of them as a seed that comes in a packet without a label. You can wait and see what kind of flower you’re going to get.”

Mogel, a clinical psychologist and parenting expert, has spoken all over the country about raising “responsible, enthusiastic children in a nervous world.” She said too often parents find ways to worry about perfectly normal kids and that they should avoid overindulging and overparenting and let children make mistakes so they can learn and gain resilience and self-reliance.

“It will feel like neglect and it will feel like your child is headed into disaster, but it will also protect your 8-year-old boy from being a pampered, spoiled, nervous, annoying, whining child,” she said.

While her book “Blessing of a Skinned Knee” deals with raising younger children, “B Minus” deals with navigating the teenage years when entitlement and independence grows and “the pressure to compete skyrockets and communication is fraught with obstacles.”

The book encourages empathy and guidance over micromanaging teens’ lives and over-reacting to missteps.

Think of your kids as wildflowers instead of as Bonzai trees.

— Dr. Wendy Mogel

At R. Roger Rowe School, Mogel shared tips for parents given from students at schools all over the country. Insightful kids wrote about how there is a difference between pressure and motivation: “I love it when my mom texts me before a big test and says ‘Good luck I love you’ instead of after the test asking ‘How did you do?’” and how much they just wanted their parents to listen. Mogel said before parents nag, remind, criticize, advise, chime in, preach, or over-explain they should remember “W.A.I.T.” or “Why am I talking?”

“Talk in shorter sentences. Listen four times more than you talk,” Mogel said. “Do not wait for consensus, they are little attorneys, they are never, ever going to say to you:‘Excellent point mommy, I hadn’t thought of it that way, I’m so glad to live with a person who has so much life experience, what would I do without you? I’m totally changing my way of thinking.’”

Kids all over the country from Texas to Manhattan to North Carolina and Chicago wanted their parents to relax and calm down.

Most importantly, Mogel encouraged parents to have sensible friends and avoid the “Brag Crowd,” the parents who “humblebrag” and “brag-plain” to the point where it makes parents start to feel that their child is already losing the race. She said children’s grades, popularity or accomplishments are not a measure of worth as a parent.

Mogel concluded her talk with a quote from the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

“Once the realization is accepted that even between closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them, which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.”

Or in simpler terms, she quoted musician John Lee Hooker: “Let that boy boogie woogie because it’s in him and it’s got to come out.”

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