It's not 'we'

Using language that sets kids up for success and ownership.

I recently read Julie Lythcott-Haims book “How to Raise an Adult” and was struck by the degree to which the curation of kids’ lives is handicapping them once they get to university and beyond. As a former freshman dean at Stanford, she had the opportunity to observe kids who were talented but were also the products of a carefully-scripted life.

One of her pieces of advice for avoiding over-entanglement was summarized as:

“Stop saying ‘we’ when you mean your son or daughter.”


I need to stop saying “we need to practice now.” It’s “you need to practice now.” It doesn’t change the way that we practice; ViolinGirl is still 7 and needs a lot of guidance. But claiming joint ownership of practice is wrong.

Written by:

Alan is the main practice partner and accompanist for a young violinist.