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The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups Hardcover – December 29, 2015
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Meg Meeker, M.D. nationally best-selling author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters and Strong Mothers, Strong Sons
One of the premier experts on parenting, Dr. Leonard Sax brilliantly articulates the problems parents experience with their children, then gives solutions. The Collapse of Parenting is academic but practical, simple but deep. If you have time to read only one book this year, read this one.”
New York Journal of Books
If you're going to read one book on parenting this year, make it The Collapse of Parenting by Leonard Sax. What makes a good nonfiction instructional book is an author who has extensive real world experience in the subject matter and who has the ability to write clearly. Leonard Sax has both.... This is quite simply a good book that is easily read and will provide sound advice for giving our children the best chance to succeed in life.”
A comprehensive breakdown of where parents have gone awry and how they can get back on track to teach virtue and character to their children.... Sax provides a series of easy-to-follow solutions that help bring parents and children back to the same page, working toward a healthier, more respectful, and conscientious attitude.... With the author's solid advice, parents have a good shot at achieving these goals.”
Sax's book isn't available for purchase until late December, but if his message strikes a chord, it may be worth a preorder.... [Sax is] sounding some alarms that we'd do well to heed, and for our kids' sakes, I think sooner is better than later.”
[Sax's] guidelines are clear and well-supported.”
The Collapse of Parenting may sound like a lone voice in the world of American parenting these days, but it's a desperately needed one...If you're going to read a single parenting book this year, please make it this one.”
Dr. Bill Bennett
The family unit is in unprecedented decline and under assault from a wide variety of cultural forces. With years of experience and research working directly with parents and children, Dr. Leonard Sax provides an important glimpse into parenting in modern times, where it's gone wrong, and how to fix it. Being a parent has never been more important and Dr. Sax explains how to avoid parenting pitfalls and raise your children well.”
From the Inside Flap
In "The Collapse of Parenting," physician, psychologist, and internationally-acclaimed author Leonard Sax presents data documenting a dramatic decline in the achievement and psychological health of American children. Sax argues that rising levels of obesity, depression, and anxiety among young peopleas well as the explosion in the prescribing of psychiatric medications for American kidscan all be traced to parents who let their kids call the shots.
Many parents are afraid of seeming too dictatorial, and end up abdicating their authority rather than taking a stand with their own children. If kids refuse to eat anything green and demand pizza instead, some parents give in, inadvertently raising children who are more likely to become obese. If children are given smartphones and allowed to spend the bulk of their free time texting, playing video games, and surfing the Internet, they become increasingly reliant on peers and the media for guidance on how to live, rather than looking to their parents. And if they won t sit still in class or listen to adults, they re often prescribed medication, a quick fix that actually undermines their self-control. In short, Sax argues, parents are failing to prioritize the parent-child relationship above all other relationships. The result is children who have no absolute standard of right and wrong, who lack discipline, and who look to their peers and the Internet for direction, instead of looking to their parents.
But there is hope. Sax shows how parents can help their kids by reasserting their authorityby limiting time with screens, by encouraging better habits at the dinner table and at bedtime, and by teaching humility and perspective. Drawing on more than twenty-five years of experience as a family physician and psychologist, along with hundreds of interviews with children, parents, and teachers, across the United States and around the world, Sax offers a blueprint parents can use to refresh and renew their relationships with their children, to help their children thrive in an increasingly complicated world.
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Here is a quick list of some of the problems Dr. Sax sees with current parenting practices in the U.S., as outlined in The Collapse of Parenting:
Parents are failing to teach a culture of respect to children.
Parents are treating their children like adults rather than children; consequently parents are having difficulty setting effective limits for their children.
Today’s American children are more fragile physically and psychologically than children have been in the past.
Attention and mood problems in children have become very common among U.S. children, as has the use of psychoactive medications
Far more children have low motivation and drive than in previous generations.
On world standards, American children are falling behind in intelligence, creativity, and performance.
The Collapse of Parenting presents a scathing view of American childrearing. Dr. Sax gives each of these topics a fairly lengthy discussion, reinforcing his conclusions with references, studies, and statistics. He has done his homework and I think he makes convincing arguments that many children in the U.S. are different today than in children in past generations with regards to the issues he discusses in this book. Dr. Sax has produced a well-written, well annotated, and well-edited book in The Collapse of Parenting. His style of writing is interesting and I think his readers will enjoy the many anecdotes that he tells. He effectively uses his combined experience of being both a family doctor and psychologist, to give the book a unique dual perspective: strong on psychological insight but not ignoring the changing physical nature of childhood. Readers will feel his passion and dedication to his subject.
As a rule, I give my highest ratings and recommendations to parenting books that spot important trends in parenting or give parents practical information and skills that can be transformative for their family life. I feel that The Collapse of Parenting is one of these books. Dr. Sax effectively presents a rebuttal to some of the more popular recent parenting fads “Attachment Parenting” and “Let’s Boost a Child’s Self Esteem with Praise” movements without ever mentioning their names. At the same time, Dr. Sax validates the predictions psychologist, Dr. David Elkind, foresaw problems coming, in his 1989 book, The Hurried Child. If you ask me, The Hurried Child and The Collapse of Parenting, should be on every parent’s reading list. They both contain wisdom and insights that every parent will benefit from.
Dr. Sax is pretty rough on contemporary American parents and to be fair to today’s parents, society, parenting, family life, technology, and the pace of life, has dramatically changed in the past two generations. To some degree, it may not be fair to judge the performance of today’s parents on benchmarks of the past since today’s families are being presented with a very different world than the one that existed fifty years ago. That being said, I think Dr. Sax has presented a compelling argument that some changes are needed in the way parents treat their children in America today.
Overall, Dr. Sax has made insightful observations about today’s children and parents. I do think that The Collapse of Parenting falls short in a few respects however. First, while Dr. Sax did an excellent job of describing the problems parents are having today, I feel he didn’t offer enough corrective, useful advice. Based on page volume, Dr. Sax spent 71% of The Collapse of Parenting on convincing his readers that there are problems with today’s children and only 29% offering solutions. His advice seemed like an afterthought to me, leaving this reader wanting more detail, dialogue, and guidance. Secondly, I feel that Dr. Sax implied that the increase diagnosis of ADHD, to a large degree, is a manifestation of sleep deprivation. I think this is incorrect. While sleep deprivation does induce ADHD behavior in children, I do not think the majority of children with ADHD have sleep deprivation as the proximate cause of their behavior. No, it is much more complex than that. I feel that the skyrocketing rate of ADHD is a manifestation of increased pressure on parents for their children to perform academically, society’s insistence on setting developmentally inappropriate expectations for young children, the influence of electronic media on children, and a lack of patience in our society to allow children to mature at their own rate. And finally and most importantly, Dr. Sax does not address the reason parenting has collapsed in America– the collapse of the family. How can we have a conversation about the shortfalls of parents without including a conversation about family structure? Single parent households, joint custody parenting, and blended families are part of why we are witnessing so much of the weak parenting. As a practicing pediatrician, I too, see much of what Dr. Sax is talking about but fortunately, I really don’t think it has become the norm in America. Dr. Sax has started a very interesting and needed conversation about American children, families, and childhood in America. I give The Collapse of Parenting 4.75 out of 5 Doc Smo Stars. If you are a parent, I recommend you get yourself a copy and read it carefully.