These two books offer excellent perspectives on children, parents, and culture. Psychologist Apter (The Confident Child) argues that we've been hanging on to an idea that's all wrong that when children finish high school or college and land a job, they instantly become autonomous, responsible adults. This "myth of maturity," insists Apter, is harming our kids. These "thresholders" (ages 18-24) appear to function as adults (whether in a job or in school), but in reality they are often in turmoil, depressed, and overwhelmed by life. Apter claims that though parents have been taught that they should end support (emotional, financial, and practical) so that their children can be independent and self-reliant, this is the wrong approach. Each chapter addresses a theme (job stress, finances, college, emotions) with stories of thresholders Apter has interviewed followed by her advice to both parents and thresholders on how to deal with the situation. Myth shatters many common notions we've held for several decades, e.g., it links eating disorders to separation anxiety and lays to rest the idea that the l8-24s are confident, happy, and sexually active beings. Like Elkind, Apter knows that kids grow up fast (that is, they leave childhood) but that they aren't "grown up" at all. Elkind's classic The Hurried Child dates from 1981 and was revised in 1988; now it appears in a third edition. The basic premise remains the same: parents have pushed their children emotionally and intellectually too far, too fast. Today's parents think of their kids as Superkids, so competent and so mature that they need adults very little. Why? Because parents, who are building careers, blending families, or struggling as single parents, have no time for child rearing. Having a competent Superkid relieves these parents of guilt, but it places too much stress on the children themselves. This new edition is fully revised, with new sections on peer-group parent pressure, i.e., the pressure parents feel to go along with the Superkid image out of fear that their own children will lag behind, and on organized sports, the Internet, and software for infants. Like Apter's title, this powerful book is essential reading. Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA
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