I talked to 70 parents who raised highly successful adults—here are 4 hard things they did differently

What is a parent’s role in raising smart, confident and successful children? What matters? What not? Even though I am the mother of two happy and driven entrepreneurial sons, these are questions I never thought to ask.

Looking back, I would love to read stories about how entrepreneurs grew up – not just Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, but people we could actually identify with.

Entrepreneurs, in my opinion, are not only founders of profitable businesses. They are resilient, hardworking people who start something, who come up with ideas and bring them to life, who turn passion into projects.

While researching and writing my book “Raising an Entrepreneur,” I interviewed 70 parents who raised highly successful adults. Here are their four hard parenting rules that set them apart from most others:

1. Give children extreme independence

2. Actively cultivate compassion

3. Welcome failure early and often

Nia Batts co-founder Detroit Blows, an inclusive, non-toxic hair and beauty service. I met Nia about 10 years ago when she was working at Viacom.

When I asked her how she mustered up the courage to leave her secure job and start something from scratch, she said it was because she learned the merits of failure early and often when she was young.

“My mom was a trial lawyer. Most of the time she won, sometimes she lost,” Nia said. “I remember my father often asking me, ‘What did you fail at today?’ He asked me when I was young and he drove me to and from school; he asked me when I was in college; and he asked me more often when I started working.”

I have seen so many parents trying to save their children from failure. But Nia’s parents wanted to make sure they created an environment where it was okay to fail. “I think they were excited to see the process unfold as I grew up and learned that lesson. My father taught me that in your wounds lie your gifts, and in your failures lie your opportunities,” she said.

4. Let go of control and lead by following

Children need time to discover their paths. Many experience periods when it is unclear where they are going. In this situation, some parents may see their children as lost. But parents of children who grow up to become entrepreneurs are more likely to see their children than explore.

Here’s the hard part for many parents: If you want to raise an entrepreneur, you have to lead by following, regardless of where your child wants to go.

Kenneth Ginsburg, author of “Building Resilience in Children and Teens,” offers this advice: “Getting out of the way is a challenge. We want to help, fix, and guide children. But we have to remind ourselves that when we let them think. things out for themselves, we communicate this: ‘I think you are capable and wise.’

In other words, see what your children want, what their passion is, what they are good at and what makes them happy. Allow their gift to reveal itself. Then support it. Tell them how proud you are of them for succeeding in their chosen path. And then tell them again and again, until you’re sure they believe it.

They may not end up with a career you had in mind, but if they are able to pursue their passion, they will be happy and fulfilled. And isn’t that what all parents want for their children?

Margot Machol Bisnow is an author, mother and parenting expert. She spent 20 years in government, including as an FTC Commissioner and Chief of Staff to the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, and is the author of “Raising an Entrepreneur: How to Help Your Children Achieve Their Dream.” Follow her on Instagram @margotbisnow.

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