Currently I am reading a book called The Optimistic Child. Martin Seligman has been conducting research on optimism since the 60s. He begins the book by clarifying how optimism is completely different from the self esteem movement that began in America in the 60s and took over the California school system. You know, the "everyone is a winner" mind set that most of us complain about. Seligman explains the subtle difference between telling your child how wonderful they are--even when they are frustrated that their block creation is pitiful compared to their older sibling and are frustrated about it--and actually providing your child with genuine successes over and over again.
Recently at book group my friends suggested Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother and I woke up thinking about it. The idea that you push and push and push your child in certain fields and don't let up. There is something to this idea because the more you push, the more likely your child will experience success and be able to continue in life believing in themselves and have the inoculation against depression that Martin Seligman talks about in The Optimistic Child.
Summer goals is one place where I have invested in motherhood. My sister-in-law is the second of 11 children, and her mother had this great program during the summer time to teach her children the things they weren't learning in school, like growing a garden or organizing clutter etc. She wrote a fantastic book about how to recreate this called So, What Can Kids Do in the Summertime?
I also read Malcom Gladwell's Outliers. There is an undeniable connection between practicing and success for math and instruments and lots of other "talents". If I can spend enough time with my boys working on "success" then I could be the mother that I want to be.
Capable and optimistic children is one of those classic things in life worth striving for, and I don't want to end up hampering my children by focusing too much on myself or just not planning ahead. Giving my children the chance to have success after success after success--even when practicing is hard, or a competition is lost, or the interest isn't there for a little while--might just be my philosophy for motherhood.