Sunday, November 16, 2008

How to raise entrepreneurial children

Over at The Austrian Economists blog, Steve Horwitz asks about the relationship between parenting and entrepreneurship. His post touches on some of the problems with “helicopter parenting” I made here, or what he calls “hyper parenting.” While I don’t have any great insight on this subject, it is nonetheless relevant to the mission of my blog. So, I am going to post some of Steve’s comments and, if you are interested, you can go to the original site to read more. There are also some really good comments to Steve’s original post so be sure to check those out as well.

What many developmental psychologists argue is that the ideal parenting strategy is to raise your kids in ways that make them "feel safe in taking risks." That might seem contradictory, but the idea is that kids need to know that they can take risks by exploring new things or people and that they will both reap the rewards of doing so and bear the costs of doing so, at least short of something catastrophic. The idea of "feeling safe in taking risks" is what true psychological attachment is about, rather than the very mistaken notion of "attachment" that is in vogue with "attachment parenting," which is just another name for the over-involved parenting that is the problem.

Well-attached children feel safe in exploring the world because they know that they can always return to the "secure base" of their parent(s).

It has always seemed to me that well-attached children will be much more able to exercise entrepreneurship than those who have been hyper-parented. They are used to exploring the world and exercising their own judgment, and understand the relationship between risk and reward. And if their parents allow them to fail and to feel the consequences of that failure (again, short of severe injury and the like), they also understand that failure is one of the great motivators for succeeding and for learning. Constantly shielding our kids from taking risks and possibly experiencing failure will be likely to lead to adults who are similarly risk-averse and who cannot understand why failure is a part of learning and growing.

Steve is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers. He consistently blogs about stuff I care about, his take on a subject is often thought provoking, and he writes with passion.

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