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Parenting Tip from Nobel Winner Raising Olympic Champion

Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their pioneering work on mRNA, which laid the foundation for the development of Covid-19 vaccines by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna. Karikó’s career exemplifies resilience, as her early research on mRNA faced skepticism and difficulties securing funding. Despite being “demoted four times,” she remained steadfast in her focus.

Karikó’s daughter, Susan Francia, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, credits her mother’s persistence and confidence for her success. Karikó advises parents not to over-assist their children but to lead by example. She emphasizes the importance of instilling determination and focus by showcasing these qualities rather than coddling.

Francia’s success in rowing and academics came from her own positivity and perseverance, nurtured by observing her parents’ work ethic. Karikó highlights the significance of parents’ behavior and relationships in shaping a child’s values and mindset. The sense of pride and independence in children can be fostered through autonomy and responsibilities within the family.

Karikó’s own work ethic, including early mornings in the laboratory, became a model for her daughter. Children pick up on parents’ habits more than their words, reinforcing the idea that resilience is best cultivated by exhibiting the trait personally.

In navigating a demanding career and parenthood, Karikó advises against over-assistance and encourages parents to involve their children in family responsibilities. The idea that “the child is part of the family and has responsibilities” contributes to building resilience and a sense of contribution in children. Ultimately, Karikó’s approach emphasizes leading by example and creating an environment that fosters determination and independence in children.

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