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The Parents We Mean To Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development Paperback – September 3, 2010
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From The New Yorker
Top Customer Reviews
And the shock is? He's against these things.
Weissbourd's countercultural parenting advice suggests that parents' intense focus on their children's happiness actually makes kids less happy, that excessive praise stunts character development, and that "over-parenting" can turn children into "fragile conformists. Additionally, he challenges the "self-esteem" craze -- the belief that if parents bolster their kids' sense of self, they'll invariably turn out to be good people. This is the first time in history that people have succumbed to this backwards idea about morality and explains that bullies, delinquents, and gang leaders often have the highest self-esteem.
I was fully prepared to read his book to figure out why other people's kids were throwing popcorn in the movie theater, but every chapter challenged my own parenting.
It's a meddlesome book, in other words. One you should definitely pick up.
Weissbourd surveyed students, and had students conduct surveys of their peers, and gathered what he finds is an alternative argument to those who demand tougher moral accountability without dismantling the self-esteem and self-important folderol that in the wake of the 1960s-70s pop psychology movement has invaded classrooms, Little League, parent-teacher conferences, and the insanely inflated competition for elite college admissions. Weissbourd advises a less strained, more balanced attitude that allows kids to fail more, to grow up without demanding parents, and to learn morality from how parents and other authority figures model it themselves-- no easy task.
Chapter 1 deals with "Helping Children Manage Destructive Emotions." Shame and self-hatred often emerge from over-coddling children to the extent they cannot form their own values. Chapter 2 "Promoting Happiness and Morality" urges parents that both can be attained, and that true satisfaction need not come from an Ivy League matriculation. Again, parents gain blame here for pushing kids to succeed despite the cost to their psyches at the degrees, possessions, and egotism that earlier generations never could have had, or failed to achieve.Read more ›
Get the book for more than a mini psychoanalysis, however. Weissbourd knows how to turn a phrase. Here are a couple: ...the million paper cuts an adolescent can inflict...and wading into the muck of ourselves. He's got his finger on a contemporary problem. Parents are trying too hard to be their kids' friends and don't think often enough of how they can influence their kids to be moral human beings. They may be morally underdeveloped themselves. Parents can emphasize their kids' happiness and self esteem over against their kids' ability to empathize with others and contribute within the greater community. Parents can pile on the pressure by giving global praise (you're terrific, that's great, etc). But who better than a kid can spot hypocrisy in a parent?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sound, practical advice for parents -- with children of any age.Published 1 month ago by Mary K Martin
I very much agree with Weissbourd that parents would do better by their children if they put more focus on raising their children to be good people. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Karen Ziminski
Great read for us well-intentioned parents who sometimes still feel like we are "missing the mark" without quite understanding why. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Molly Olecki
I use the term "kids" when referring to those from the first grade through high school. For the first time in our known human history, or what we were taught about our... Read morePublished on May 3, 2014 by Robert Brown
I purchased this book for a client who couldn't understand why her daughter behaved as she did. It's a good "english" explanation of child development and parenting,... Read morePublished on January 6, 2014 by Counselor Chris
This is a book that definitely makes you think twice as a parent. As well intentioned adults, we think we are doing the right thing for our children. Read morePublished on December 15, 2013 by Geoff Harrison
This book was interesting reading. I purchased it because I am concerned about what has happened to this generation of entitled, lazy, and self-centered children. Read morePublished on December 19, 2012 by Anonymous genius