New York Times best selling author, Julie Lythcott-Haims inspires at first Tidewater Learning Connection

by | Mar 23, 2018 | Other News

Stress and anxiety. It’s everywhere. Parents see it in their kids. Kids see it in their parents. From before they are even born, parents worry about their kids walking, talking, reading, taking the right classes, getting into the right classes…it never ends.

“Not only does overparenting hurt our children; it harms us, too. Parents today are scared, not to mention exhausted, anxious, and depressed,” says Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.

Last month, Hebrew Academy of Tidewater Konikoff Center of Learning kicked off an initiative called Tidewater Learning Connection. TLC’s goal is to offer thoughtful and inspiring parenting and educational programming and provide parents, school administrators, and teachers from area public and private schools with tools to motivate diverse student populations.

Nearly 300 parents and teachers representing more than 25 area public and independent schools and universities, including Hebrew Academy and the Strelitz Early Childhood Education Center, attended the premiere TLC events over a two-day period. The program provided valuable parenting education and a professional development opportunity that offered teachers four hours of continuing education credits.

Babbi Bangel, HAT board president, credits TLC’s sponsors, friends, and advertisers for making it possible to host a top tier community learning event. “TLC is a new fundraiser for HAT, and we cannot thank our donors enough for coming out and supporting our school. We have been successful in our first year of TLC. The proceeds from the event will help make a Hebrew Academy education accessible for all students and are an investment in the education of our future leaders.”

With the objective of bringing nationally recognized authors, speakers, and expert educators to Tidewater, TLC secured Julie Lythcott-Haims as the keynote speaker on Thursday, February 15 at the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center.

“We started a book club to promote her book and get parents excited about attending the event, says Patti Seeman, HAT development director. “Not only did the book club get parents excited, but it also served as a ‘parenting therapy’ session where we realized just how worried and stressed out parents can become while trying to get it all ‘right.’”

As Stanford University’s dean of freshmen, Lythcott-Haims noticed a startling rise in parental involvement in students’ lives. She saw an increasing number of students who, as a result of hyper-attentive parenting, lacked a strong sense of self and were poorly equipped to handle the demands of adult life. In How to Raise an Adult, Lythcott-Haims draws on research with admissions officers, educators, and employers, and on her own insights as a mother, to highlight ways in which over-parenting harms children, their stressed-out parents, and society at large.

Many parents today are worried that they’re not doing enough for their kids, not providing enough opportunities, and not putting enough pressure on them to succeed. It’s the perfect storm for student mental health issues. With humor, Lythcott-Haims told her story about how she, too, was a “helicopter parent” before she realized she was turning her own children into the same stressed out kids she had seen as a dean at Stanford University.

What’s Lythcott-Haims’ advice for parents? “Support your kids and let them follow their passions. Don’t force them to do what you think that they should be doing. If they love art, let them pursue art. Let your kids take ownership in making their own decisions, with parental guidance of course.”

Most importantly, she says, give kids chores. Kids need to learn how to pitch in and help. According to Lythcott-Haims, this is the best indicator of success.

The TLC program continued with workshops the next morning, Friday, February 16, on the Sandler Family Campus. Building on the theme of ‘raising adults,’ two presenters conducted sessions focused on helping children overcome stress to build resiliency. Erin Walsh of Minneapolis-based Mind Positive Parenting, addressed the brain and how executive function is affected by stress. Michele Tryon, Childrens Hospital of The King’s Daughters’ parent educator and community outreach coordinator, spoke about recognizing stress, both positive and negative, and managing stress in the classroom and at home. After the workshops, many parents and teachers enjoyed lunch together.

“Overall, our inaugural TLC events exceeded our expectations,” says Heather Moore, HAT and Strelitz head of school. “The feedback was wonderful, and parents are already asking what we are planning for next year. The topics of stress and resiliency really resonated with all participants. We were excited to bring such a beneficial program to Tidewater and look forward to making TLC an annual event.”

TLC is committed to producing impactful programs that add value to conversations around education, student advocacy, and parental challenges. For more information, contact Patti Seeman, HAT director of development, at 757-424-4327, or email

Hebrew Academy is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

Carin Simon