In her work counseling the parents of young children, Meg Akabas ’87 grapples with a misconception. Many have the impression, she says, that parenting should come naturally, that we are born equipped with everything we need to raise a child.
“It’s just a fallacy,” she says, “and it puts such unnecessary pressure on people who don’t have the knowledge they need.”
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
Akabas approaches parenting as a skill to be developed. Rather than seeking help only when a specific problem arises, she encourages parents to work on improving their abilities over time. That’s why her recent book, 52 Weeks of Parenting Wisdom (Parenting Solutions Press, 2012), is divided into one manageable strategy per chapter.
Akabas discovered this field when she was a young parent herself. She had kids before many of her friends and became the go-to person for advice. When she left her career as a consultant for nonprofits to become a certified parenting educator, offering parents one-on-one consultations and workshops, the skills she developed at Columbia helped her get the business off the ground and remove the stigma associated with seeking guidance. “People don’t have to struggle in silence,” she says. “Parenting education should be standard for everyone.”