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Faculty Speaker Series presenter addresses beliefs in children’s abilities

Posted by on January 18, 2017

Aurora University professor to discuss realistic expectations for children in today’s culture of narcissism

Parents who think their kids can do anything — and kids who believe it — might be setting themselves up for a lifetime of frustration, according to a psychology professor at Aurora University.

David Rudek, who specializes in early child development, says that while parents’ inordinate belief in their own children’s abilities is nothing new, it could prove damaging to their children’s long-term success in school and in their careers.

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Parents who tell their children they can be anything they want if they put their minds to it might be setting them up for a lifetime of frustration.

Fueling the problem has been the rise of narcissism in American society over the past 30 years, a rise Rudek and others in the mental-health profession believe is an unintended consequence of the “self-esteem movement” which began as early as the 1970s and has affected educational practice and parenting ever since.

That phenomenon, while rejected by psychologists and educators for some years now, has nevertheless produced generations of men and women, many of them parents, who not only have an inflated opinion of their own abilities but also of their children’s. If their children only apply themselves, many parents reason, they can succeed at anything.

Over the same period, Rudek says, advances in genetic science and the publicity surrounding them have made parents more aware of the role that genetics play in child development and potential, an idea that is sometimes at odds with the “my-child-can-do-anything” mentality.

As part of Aurora University’s ongoing Faculty Speakers Series, David Rudek will present a lecture that challenges the conventional notion that “practice makes perfect” when it comes to children’s success. He will also offer current and future parents, caregivers and teachers a framework for thinking about the role they can play in helping to achieve positive developmental outcomes.

“Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect: Being Liberated by Knowing Children’s Limits” is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. and will conclude with a question and answer session. The event will be held on the Aurora University campus in Perry Theatre, which is located in the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley Center for Cultural Enrichment at 349 S. Gladstone Avenue, Aurora.

The second Faculty Speaker Series lecture of the semester, “Artist Talk: Observations, Reflections and Re-Presentations,” will be delivered by James Kao, assistant professor of art, on Wednesday, February 22, 2017.

The lectures are free and open to the public. To register, please go to