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Mother whose three daughters are CEOs and a doctor shares her one 'unpopular' parenting rule

Did she go too far?

parenting, esther wojcicki, parenting successful kids

Author, educator and mother Esther Wojcicki.

Esther Wojcicki has earned the right to tell people how to raise their kids. She’s an educator, journalist and bestselling author of "How to Raise Successful People" who has raised three daughters—two are CEOs and the other a doctor.

Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube, Anne Wojcicki is the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe and Dr. Janet Wojcicki is an anthropologist and epidemiologist who works on HIV progression and obesity risk in children.

In "How to Raise Successful People" Esther Wojcicki says the secret to success is the result of “TRICK”: trust, respect, independence, collaboration and kindness. In a new article she wrote for NBC Chicago, she boiled that down to one rule, “Don't do anything for your kids that they can do for themselves.”



“Parents need to stop coddling their kids,” she continues. “The more you trust your children to do things on their own, the more empowered they'll be. The key is to begin with guided practice: It's the ‘I do, we do, you do’ method.”

The “I do, we do, you do” method is used by teachers to gradually give students new responsibilities. The teacher first demonstrates the task, then they do it with the student and finally, the student does it alone.

Wojcicki says that parents can start with their children by asking them to make their beds, pick their own outfits and to help with dishes and making dinner. It’s funny that every child is raised by a parent who cooks them meals, but an astonishing number of them grow up having no idea how to boil water. Why? Because nobody bothered to get them involved.

As the old saying goes, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat forever.”

“The idea is to teach them how to cope with what life throws at them,” she writes. “One of the most important lessons I taught my daughters is that the only thing you can control is how you react to things.”

Wojcicki’s rules are a reaction to the modern trend of helicopter parenting, which is "overly focused on their children" where parents "take too much responsibility for their children's experiences and, specifically, their successes or failures." This can result in children who grow into adults with lower self-confidence and self-esteem, poor coping skills, increased anxiety and a sense of entitlement.

Simply put, when children are too dependent on their parents, they become ill-equipped to deal with real-world challenges. So when parents think they’re helping their children, they are actually setting them up for failure. Is it any wonder why we live in an age where more and more people suffer from crippling anxiety and depression? The world is a lot scarier when you’re not properly equipped to deal with everyday problems.

“When you trust kids to make their own decisions, they start to feel more engaged, confident and empowered,” Wojcicki writes. “And once that happens, there's no limit to what they can achieve.”

While, at first, this dramatic change in parenting may seem difficult for parents who have a hard time letting go, it’s an opportunity for them to grow. “What I realized, through a lot of conscious effort, is that parenting gives us perhaps the most profound opportunity to grow as human beings,” she writes in "How to Raise Successful People."


This article originally appeared on 11.02.22

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Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

Image from YouTube video.

What is your biggest regret?

"Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh."

—Henry David Thoreau

No one escapes this world without a regret or two.

Time and time again, when we hear the final regrets of the dying, they're not about wishing they'd made money or worked more hours.

They're almost always about wishing they had the self-confidence to pursue their dreams or the time to stay in touch with loved ones.

community, culture, honesty, collaboration, art

Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Image from YouTube video.

Recently, A Plus in partnership with Strayer University's Ideal Year Initiative, put up a chalkboard on a New York City street and asked passersby to write down their biggest regrets. The people who wrote on the blackboard were from different walks of life, but their regrets were alarmingly similar.

Watch the full video below:

This article first appeared on 9.16.17

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