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Lipstick on the Rim: How to Be a Better Parent: Developmental Psychologists Bronwyn Charlton (Molly’s Therapist!) and Aliza Pressman Give Us the Tools for Advocating vs. Helicoptering, Raising Good Humans and Independent Thinkers, Managing Discomfort, and More


The Seedlings Group is an amazing organization. Co-Founders, Bronwyn Charlton and Aliza Pressman, not only happen to be the best at what they do in their field of developmental psychology but they are also both very near and dear to Molly and Emese’s hearts. We really wanted to do an episode dedicated to parenting styles and specifically dissect the differences between helicoptering and advocating—it’s such a grey line, isn’t it?! Plus, we wanted to hone in on what the tools are we need to ensure we raise our children into stellar adults. Pretty loaded but we think we made headway. If you’re a parent, experienced or not, or thinking of starting a family, we recommend you give this episode a listen.

[Bronwyn] On Parenting Styles

“There’s not just ‘helicoptering’ or ‘advocating’ or ‘snowplowing’ or all those terms that you read about. The type of parenting that really works and is very successful in raising kids most optimally comes from finding a balance of supporting your child, being responsive, knowing them, loving them unconditionally, being available, listening, and being empathetic. While at the same time, having high expectations for them, having limits, being able to hold your  limits and not cave, and not get angry and yell. All those other parenting styles that you hear about are sort of the extremes that branch off from these two pieces of parenting that create a balance, which is the base from developmental psychology and decades of research on the kinds of parenting styles that are known to be prominent and very common. These extremes and the terms they go by, such as ‘helicopter parenting’ are just new names that are a little bit sexier and more interesting to articles and book sales. Really, though, we’re all guilty of falling into them at different times. No one has one parenting style.”

[Aliza] On Setting Limits

“An important part of setting limits is identifying what limits matter so that we make sure that the ones that we do set, we stick with. Ask yourself: ‘why do I care about this? What’s my ultimate goal?’ And given that information, ‘should I set this limit?’ So what you really want to decide, especially with younger children, is what really matters to you and what limits are important enough to set them and stick by them. As for other set limits that don’t fall under that, if you keep noticing that you’re allowing for limits to be broken, maybe it’s time to change the limit so that you’re not fighting yourself all the time. It’s important to feel confident. Our jobs are to welcome the feelings and set the limits.”

[Bronwyn] On The Four Steps To Independence

“A lot of parenting is about us managing our own discomfort, obviously within reason. Fear is what sort of precludes a lot of parents from giving their kids the opportunity to grow to feel independent and competent. But kids are more competent and responsible when they have to be responsible for themselves. When you’re trying to introduce an independent task or skill, it’s usually in four steps:

  1. Teach them.
  2. Try something together, allowing your child to do it independently while also being present to guide them if need be.
  3. Allow them to go for it.
  4. Tell them they’re ready.”

Bronwyn and Aliza’s Must-Haves:

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