I received an advance copy of a new book to read and review, and in full disclosure, I am being compensated to participate in this brief BlogHer Book Club review but my opinions about the book are mine and mine alone.
Dr. Brene Brown, an academic researcher on the topic of shame, gained wide recognition from a 2010 TED talk called The Power of Vulnerability. Her new book, Daring Greatly, explores themes of shame, vulnerability--topics I don't necessarily have on the forefront of my thoughts on a regular basis--and it gave me some good insight into both how I view myself and how I parent my children.
All parents have hopes and dreams for their children, and as I watch my boys grow, my hopes and dreams for them are not that they go to Ivy League schools, or that they become lawyers (heaven forbid!). What I yearn for most when I imagine them as adults is that they are...happy. Happy that they are alive and living their lives, because life is beautiful. It sounds simple enough, but this ambiguous adjective is hard to ensure because there are no tangible criteria for progress in one's happiness like there are in mathematics or reading. Instead, we as parents need to somehow arm our children with emotional tools of resilience so they have the strength, confidence and peace of mind to find their own happiness. A daunting task.
Brown writes how present society has this overarching tenet of scarcity, of 'not enough'--we feel we aren't (insert any adjective here--rich, pretty, smart, active, tall, petite, curvy). We didn't get enough sleep. We didn't eat healthy enough that day. We weren't funny enough when we told that joke. She posits that in shame-prone cultures with this 'not enough' mentality, self-worth is tied to what a person produces instead of simply who they are or what makes them happy. Thinking along these lines, we will never achieve satisfaction with our lives.
This one quote really stuck with me: "Raising children who are hopeful and who have the courage to be vulnerable means stepping back and letting them experience disappointment, deal with conflict, learn how to assert themselves, and have the opportunity to fail. If we're always following our children into the arena, hushing the critics, and assuring their victory, they'll never learn that they have the ability to dare greatly on their own."
That right there is enough for me to chew on for a while, and then I'll return to the book for more. Daring Greatly is a book most anyone would find thought-provoking, and I look forward to more from Dr. Brown.