“Our kids will be in therapy,” Brene Brown half-jokes. She’s a researcher studying shame and vulnerability; her husband is a pediatrician; together, they have got two children.
But even if their kids do wind up on the proverbial couch, Brown will hardly think she’s failed as a parent.
On an episode of Lewis Howes’ podcast, “The School of Greatness,” Brown said there are only two types of kids you can raise: “kids who ask for help when they need it and kids who won’t. And that’s as good as it gets, to raise a kid who’ll ask for help.”
Brown’s parenting philosophy reflects her overall life philosophy, one that she’s explored in bestselling books and mega-hit TED Talks: Letting yourself be vulnerable is the bravest thing you can do, and the only way to truly be successful. So as a parent, the best strategy is to accept imperfection — in your kids and in yourself.
Brown herself has spent a lifetime struggling with the message her parents passed onto her: Emotional vulnerability is something to be avoided at all costs.
In her new book, “Braving the Wilderness,” she shares a story about trying out for the high-school drill team; when she found out she hadn’t made it, her parents were silent, clearly disappointed, and didn’t even try to comfort her. That feeling of unworthiness stuck with her for years.
Since starting to study shame and vulnerability, Brown has hashed all of this out with her parents, she said. And while she’s raising her kids differently, she knows now that her parents were doing their best raising their four kids.
On the podcast, Brown talked about giving yourself “permission” to make mistakes and to struggle as a parent.
That sounds like something psychologist Carl Pickhardt previously told Business Insider: Your goal as a parent shouldn’t be to avoid repeating your parents’ screw-ups. Instead, you should aim to emulate your parents’ best qualities.
Though she didn’t use the words specifically, compassion and forgiveness are key components of Brown’s approach to parenting. If you can feel for your kids, for your parents, and for yourself, you’ll have a better shot at healthier relationships.
Brown told Howes: “I believe that 99.9% of parents are truly waking up every day and doing the very best they can with what they have. I don’t think there are a lot of parents who wake up and maliciously try to hurt their kids, or screw up their kids, or belittle or shame their kids. I think we’re doing the best we can with what we have.”
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