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Dawn Loggins’ story a great reminder for my own parenting

You may have read the story of Dawn Loggins.

Now 18, she was abandoned by her drug-addicted parents last year. Literally. According to news reports, the North Carolina teen was away at summer school when they just packed up and left town without her.

Of course, Dawn had a tumultuous life before then dealing with her parents’ addiction. She battled extreme poverty, often studied by candlelight because they could not afford electricity, found community showers to use and frequently had to wear the same clothes several days in a row. Still she dug her heels in and became a straight-A student. But suddenly last summer she was completely on her own and facing her senior year in high school. She didn’t melt down. She got a job as a janitor in the very school she attended. Teachers pitched in, and another janitor took her in to live with her.

Dawn just recently graduated from high school. And she’s on her way to Harvard in the fall. Really.

This is not meant to suggest that every kid with a horrendous story like Dawn’s should be able to do the same. The fact that even one can do it is amazing. I think it is, though, a great reminder to every parent like me who worries too much about his or her children when they have to face any kind of disappointment. I wrote a book, It Takes a Parent, in which I discussed how we over-worry about every little scrape our kids deal with, from school cliques to not making the school play. We hate saying “no” to our children about anything. We simply overindulge their whining.

Enter Dawn Loggins.

I may have written a book calling parents, including myself, to account on this very thing, but I still need to be reminded that when it comes to the routine disappointments of life, my kids will actually live to tell the tale. They will even probably be better off for it.

Perhaps not ironically, studies that have been done in the United States on young people and happiness show that they are far more depressed and anxious today than they were during the Great Depression.

There are a whole host of reasons that this is true. I have to believe that one of them is we parents are too often terrified of letting our kids face disappointment, and letting them figure out that they will actually live in spite of it.

Of course, I never want my kids to experience the trauma that Dawn Loggins has, but perspective matters. And when it comes to disappointments that are so much less drastic, if I believe that my kids will survive just fine, they are more likely to believe it as well.

And they will be more ready to face adversity and the truly big disappointments when those inevitably come along in life, too.

Best wishes to you, Dawn. And from at least this parent, thank you for a much-needed corrective.

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