Open-Ended Parenting

o·pen-end·ed
adjective
 
  1. having no determined limit or boundary. (“the return invitation was open-ended”)
    OR
    2.  (of a question) allowing the formulation of any answer, rather than a selection from a set of possible answers. (“the interview includes both open-ended and multiple-choice questions”)
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    Open-ended parenting is parenting means letting go of our ideas about what children should be and discovering what they are.
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    It means letting go of trying to control what they become. That doesn’t mean letting them squander their potential–rather, it means teaching them to be responsible for reaching it.
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    Why be an open-ended parent?
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    The world is changing. So is parenting.

    The current generation of children is being raised in a world different from any we have seen before. A world that changes faster than we can keep up with. They carry more information than all the textbooks combined on the smartphone in their pocket. They’re connected 24-7. Television is no longer considered an enemy to learning, but rather a tool. The jobs they will apply for when they graduate don’t even exist yet.

    And still, the majority of school systems in America follow the same model created two hundred years ago, before computers, before smartphones. These school systems were intended to educate the masses to work in the factory during the industrial revolution, not develop the next generation of creatives and entrepreneurs. They were intended to enforce control.
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    And for the most part, that’s been our priority with children, starting in the early toddler years through the rebellious teenage years. And trust me, as a mom who has had her share of moments with a flailing, screaming child in a nice restaurant, I understand the impulse to control.
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    But what if we’ve taken it too far? What if we are wearing ourselves thin trying to control things that we don’t need to control?
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    That’s the question behind open-ended parenting.
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    These are our children. We can’t depend on the schools or anyone else to teach them how to be creative, empathetic, open-minded, generous, gracious, compassionate… Authentic. Children learn more at home than anywhere else. As parents, it’s our privilege to guide and empower them to find themselves and find the courage to be themselves in a world that wants them to be something else. I spent my childhood trying to be what I thought I was “supposed” to be, not what I truly was. It took me a long time to find my authentic voice. My hope is that it won’t take my daughter that long to find her own voice. Or better yet–that she’ll never lose it in the first place.
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    Our children have the capacity to be the greatest generation yet. If we can let go of what we think they should be and open ourselves to what they are.
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    “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

    Howard Thurman