BookTalk 2016 – Words to Parent By…

Some Personal Reflections by PA President Stephanie Landau P ʼ14, ʼ17

On April 13, the D-E Parents’ Association hosted BookTalk 2016 with two nationally best-selling authors who are at the heart of a national dialogue about how we parent and raise our children to be adults in today’s challenging, stressful world. Authors Julie Lythcott-Haims (How to Raise an Adult…) and Jessica Lahey (The Gift of Failure) spent a day at D-E with our students, faculty and parents.

My husband, Ken ’82, always thought that you went to college to learn how to be a parent. But since college didn’t prepare us, I have gravitated towards bringing parent education to D-E. After going through the college application process with my two sons, I felt like there had to be a better way. And I found that in Julie’s and Jessica’s work. This year it has been different. This year I have made a change. And I am happy to say that these changes are being shared and articulated with the parents of D-E with the BookTalk and through the subsequent Parent Forums we have had for every grade this Spring, and the world has been opened up. We invited Julie and Jessica to come in April and since then we have had parent forums for every grade and the world has been opened up. People are feeling freer. Parents are having moments of realization that they can let go and their kids will survive.

Both Julie’s and Jessica’s work are key to a new chapter in the way we raise our kids. We don’t have to always focus on the “product” (e.g., grades, assessments, acceptances, and outcomes). We can take joy, and learning, from process. Throughout, our administration and faculty at D-E are supportive of our kids, providing them comprehensive feedback on their learning traits, and honoring the value of letting them both succeed and fail. I have witnessed not letting your kids fail in high school and I’m telling you it’s better to let them fail now.

Both these authors similarly encourage and prompt us to think about the decisions we make for our kids. They offer us an opportunity to change our personal culture, construct and narrative. How can we avoid making our kids (and ourselves, for that matter) so anxious? How can we stop the vicious cycle of making our kids nervous about their work and making ourselves nervous as a result? It’s time to let things be. Honor your kid and yourself for who you are. You can’t be a baking queen if you don’t like to bake. You can’t be a neat freak if you mind a little mess. Let your house be your house—both the physical house and the soulful house in which you live your life.

BookTalk 2016 has clearly prompted a complex, fascinating dialogue that we look forward to continuing. I invite and encourage you to visit us online at to learn more, and consider concepts worth further reflection!

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