We’re Raising a Generation That Lacks Independence and Grit – Famous Teacher-Mom Explains Why

This High School Teacher Raised 2 Famous CEOs and a Doctor - Her Thoughts on Parenting

Children are way smarter than we think, and they learn so much by example. If a child sees and hears their parents speaking disrespectfully to a teacher, they’re gonna go into school thinking they can do the same. And it doesn’t stop there. They’re going to go through life thinking they can do the same everywhere – with other children, on social media, with other authoritative figures, and eventually with their own parents. Our actions as parents are a huge part of our children’s overall education. More than we often realize.

Raising your kids to help others is one parenting decision you’ll never regret.

Esther Wojcicki is the mother of 2 of the most successful women in Silicon Valley — Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, and Anne Wojcicki, co-founder, and CEO of 23andMe — as well as a third daughter, Janet Wojcicki, a Fulbright-winning anthropologist and professor of pediatrics. Esther has been a high school teacher in Palo Alto, California for 36 years, and California’s Teacher of the Year in 2002.

She explains in an article she wrote for CNBC that so many children these days are self-absorbed, only thinking about themselves, and having a “get rich and do nothing” mentality. They only think about their possessions or desired possessions, the colleges they’ll go to in order to make more money to buy more things. Children that grow up thinking the world revolves around them turn into adults who lack independence and grit. She states,

Sometimes it feels like we’re training a nation and a world of narcissists, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that helicopter parenting has played a big role in this.

Children need direction and exposure to non-material experiences. They need to be held accountable for their poor decisions and behaviors. But most importantly, they need to be taught the value of helping others. We see a lot of people promoting kindness these days as if it were a fad or a cool trend. Kindness isn’t taught by simply wearing a graphic tee with the message “Kindness is Cool” or sharing a viral video on social media of people handing money out to homeless people on the street. Kindness is taught through real acts of helping others. As parents, we are the most important role models for our children.

Children need to grow up seeing their parents offering to help find solutions instead of pointing fingers and placing blame, being kind instead of insulting and ridiculing, and actively trying to make our community a better place rather than sitting around talking about it. Children will mimic that behavior and learn values that will stay with them throughout their lives. And as a result, they will not only be better humans, they’ll even be healthier humans. According to a 2013 study, kids who volunteer with younger children experience both decreased negative moods and cardiovascular risk. A more recent study in 2016 also showed that teenagers who did volunteer work were significantly less likely to participate in illegal behaviors. With the prevalence of depression, drug abuse, criminal convictions, suicides, and mass shootings among our youth nowadays, this knowledge makes it even more vital to instill these types of morals in children.

Mrs. Wojcicki states that children with parents who are passionate about helping our communities and making the world a better place are children that will grow up feeling “empowered to take on the biggest challenges of our time and find a way to contribute.” As a teacher, she knows as well as anyone about pursuing a life of service and purpose rather than money and possessions.

If we have a purpose at all, it’s to make ourselves happy. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s this: You’re happiest — as well as most beneficial to society — when you’re doing things to help others.


While she doesn’t take credit for her daughters’ success in their careers or as wonderful mothers of their own children, she believes that this sense of selflessness and altruism she instilled in them while growing up definitely contributed to their pursuit of happiness and their mindset of achieving success in all areas of life.

Parenting is without a doubt the hardest job in the world. Anyone who disagrees has never been one. There are so many choices to make, so many factors to consider at every stage in our children’s lives, and at a certain point, we step back and accept the fact that we cannot control everything or always make the right decision. But raising your kids to help others, by showing them how, is one parenting decision you can control, and one you’ll never regret.

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We're Raising a Generation That Lacks Independence and Grit - Famous Teacher-Mom Explains Why

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