Harper: The Snakes by Sadie Jones

How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results

In How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results, Esther Wojcicki offers a direct rebuttal to the prevalent style of intense, overprotective parenting. Reflecting on her own journey as a mother, Wojcicki presents an altogether calmer and more wholesome prescription for effective childrearing.

A teacher for more than 35 years, Wojcicki raised three bright, productive daughters and mentored countless teenagers through her journalism program at Palo Alto High School in California. Forget the pressure-cooker parenting techniques of tiger mothers, she advises. Instead, focus on cultivating self-confidence and independence in children and teenagers. It begins with instilling trust and letting them take risks and make mistakes. Respect for each child's autonomy is essential.

Respectful parenting is supportive but also demanding, because it's important to hold one's child to standards that help them grow and learn. Wojcicki encourages parents to nurture a culture of kindness so that children and teenagers can experience the personal rewards of helping others through selfless acts. Collaboration between parent and child, where each family member contributes to discussions, is also an integral part of Wojcicki's parenting approach.

But it's not just about the children. Parents are urged to reflect on their own childhoods and work through unresolved traumas and challenges to avoid inflicting those same wounds on the next generation. Wojcicki, now a grandmother of nine, cautions against the myth of the perfect parent and wholeheartedly embraces the mistakes she made as a mother. Her best piece of advice? Let go of your parenting fears by forgiving yourself for past errors in judgment and trust in your ability to do right by your children. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer