From over 40,000 hours of work as a child psychologist focused on developing children to their true potential, I have identified 4 key reasons good children never become great adults. These 4 reasons, accompanied by a tip parents can use to combat that factor, are the following:
1) Hyper social family
2) Ignoring black holes
3) Lack of balance
4) Choosing wrong career
1) Hyper social family
As a 53-year-old husband and happily married father of two teenagers, I am part of a generation of parents who have used social media (SM) all the time. But what I have come to realize is, even for the younger generations of parents, social media use easily becomes Hyper Social Media Use (HSMU). SM use on steroids. Humans by nature are wired to want to be popular. So, the option to constantly put attention grabbing images or stories on your favorite SM platform becomes addictive quickly.
The powerful addictiveness of SM has caused even the founders of Facebook to feel regret for how their platform has made people become more comfortable with relating in shallower ways. Adolescents manage 3-6 SM platforms at a time, and my work with teenagers repeatedly reveals that SM has dramatically shifted the family focus away from eye to eye, deeper time and towards screen focused time.
This sets up a child to, before they become an adult, have far fewer opportunities to learn what a deep relationship really is. As I have said in a viral blog I wrote, the best gift to give your child is the gift of having a better relationship with them. because this can teach them what it meansto have a deeper relationship. But this is not an easy gift to give, especially when SM constantly beckons us away from our family members, and toward the glow of the screen. Teaching your child what the difference is between a shallower vs deeper relationship is one of the most important insights your child needs beforethey go out in a world of transactions and shallowness.
Parental tip: Before you get on SM at night, first invest quality time with your child, where you phone goes away. Teach them that a deeper relationship means putting technology away and being in the Deep Now.
2) Ignoring black holes
Each of us is a unique blend of bright and dark qualities, as I talked about in my most viral blog ever, entitled 10 Character Flaws that Derail even good people. The problem is these dark qualities often suck the light from an individual’s bright qualities. But instead of neutralizing the dark side qualities that suck light away from your brightness, most people try to get through life by hyper-focusing, and hyper-marketing their bright side, via SM.
Meanwhile, the top performers in any domain of life, whether it be parenting, athletics, leadership, etc, take full ownership of their dark side tendencies. Notice how most athletic teams now have a sports psychologist. But SM encourages adolescents to feel pressure to seem as cool or “put together” as peers constantly marketing themselves online.
As adolescents try to match up to artificially idealistic SM posts, it leads them to feel the need to keep playing themselves up. On top of this, being part of a hyper social family leads younger people to focus on how to amplify the most idyllic part of their life and market that, rather than taking time to work on what is not camera worthy.
From 20 years of intimate psychological work with children, parents and adults in general, this is a timeless truth: a person’s ability to own their dark side tends to decide their ultimate level of success and fulfillment, much more than any marketing of their bright side.
The bottom line is the dark side is always drawing light away from the bright side, but this light dimming remains invisible to the ego. The conscious part of your mind (which is only approximately 5-10% of your mental activity) prefers to focus on what you like about yourself. That is the beauty of psychological assessment; it will shine a light into your darkness. It will tell you what your friends never will. Read more about the lantern awareness psychological assessment will give you. A three hour psychological assessment will tell you more than 10 years of living in your ego’s echo chamber. As any physicist or psychologist knows, light cannot escape a black hole. Teach your child that the best way to bring the brightest light to the world is to address that darkness within.
Parent tip: Evoke the spirit of humility in your child, by being a humble person who is constantly willing to own up to your own immaturity, weaknesses and dark qualities. Some of the most common ways parents cultivate offspring who are destined to fall short of their potential is by never fully dealing with issues like perfectionism, emotional volatility, alcoholism, anxiety, and trauma. The more humble you are, the more your child will be willing to see themselves realistically.
3) Lack of balance
As a Tucson psychologist who has closely worked with over a 1,000 people, I find that the most elusive, but most important, human quality is balance. Balance allows an individual to live a well rounded life where they do not overinvest in one area of life. Over investing in one area of life leads to a tunnel vision lifestyle that is precariously balanced on a narrow foundation where key areas of life are neglected.
A fellow psychologist once told me something that has turned out to be a timeless truth: “it is hard to have a great marriage, a great career, and great kids…usually one of them fails”. We all see how hard it is for parents, and their children, to be balanced. For example, the temptation to have a great career pulls many parents away from realizing their most important legacy is their child, not their professional prestige.
But the so-called “modern” hyper social family, which encourages overinvestment in SM, and encourages people to try and stand out in one area, leads the adolescent to hyperfocus on areas of their life that can become the most brag-worthy. This often leads younger people to forget that it is more important to regularly re-balance yourself by identifying what is imbalanced in your life. Balance gives you a broad foundation, and in the worst of times, gives you a safety net of resources to fall back on.
Parental tip: Take 5 minutes to evaluate how any imbalances in your life have caused your child to become imbalanced. Set one goal for how your will re-balance your life so you model to your child a more balanced lifestyle. because humans learn by observing what other do. Talk to them about what you have learned from the mistakes you have made with being imbalanced.
4) Choosing the wrong career
After having listened to hundreds of my clients share how unhappy they are at work, I hired a research team and for the past three years have evaluated the true state of affairs when it comes to career guidance. The sad truth is I could find no in-depth career guidance process. What I did find was shallow and naïve career guidance approaches. So I developed a 10-step approach called Precisely Engineered Career Guidance (PECG).
Statistics speak for themselves: most people do not feel deeply fulfilled by work, and a recent survey showed a large percentage of people hate their work so much they would not wish it on their worst enemy. Whoa!!
No matter how talented a younger person is, if they choose the wrong career they will flounder, become depressed, and get stuck. My most common career guidance client is in their 20’s and they tell me they wish they could do college over again after they found their true calling through PECG.
Parental tip: Before you pay the unrealistically exorbitant costs of higher education, pay for quality career guidance (check out PECG) , because with course credit prices rising (e.g., average of $1000.00 per course credit, with most college courses being three to four credits), you cannot afford to pay for your child to choose the wrong major. While the average student changes major 3-6 times, the average cost of changing a major is $20,000.00.