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Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age Hardcover – August 29, 2001

3.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kindlon (coauthor of Raising Cain), a psychologist, has spent time surveying and speaking to parents and kids in an effort to understand teen-rearing today. In addition to a scientific survey (Parenting Practices at the Millennium), which focuses on issues such as whether today's teens consider themselves spoiled, how many use drugs, how many do household chores, what families have dinner together regularly, whether all or only rich kids have cell phones, etc., Kindlon also draws on anecdotal data. As a psychologist at various schools, he has listened to parents protesting the suspension of a son accused of plagiarism the parents didn't find anything wrong with taking material off the Internet. Students have told Kindlon that their parents are never home or, in some cases, when they expect a punishment, that their parents do nothing. Educators as well as parents and grandparents will effortlessly identify with many of the situations Kindlon describes. After all, particularly among the baby boomer generation with seemingly unlimited funds, as parents indulge themselves, it's fairly apparent that their children will do so as well. Kindlon offers sound, albeit brief, advice; in the chapter on life skills, for example, he urges parents to help their kids acquire interests that will hold their attention. He believes that even spending one hour a day with kids not necessarily at mealtime is helpful. While this book is handy, a better organization with chapter summaries of advice would have made it even stronger. (Aug.)Forecast: Given the author's track record with the bestselling Raising Cain, this book should perform well, especially with a 12-city author tour and national advertising campaign.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Kindlon, coauthor of the well-received Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, here describes his experiences as a clinical therapist as well as the findings from the Parenting Practices at the Millennium study (PPM), which he conducted in spring 2000. The PPM is unusual in that it focuses on middle- and upper-class Americans, specifically those born in the last 20 years of the 20th century. Kindlon calls these kids "millennials" and finds that they "are highly competitive and prone to self-centeredness, depression, anxiety, and anger. Even when they're driven they often seem adrift." Distressing news, especially when these are the privileged few who will "have the inside track on the most influential positions in our society." But the pictures is not all gloomy; Kindlon offers sensible and compassionate advice for the well-to-do parent by effectively blending empirical evidence with anecdotal material. Sometimes, he offers easy, rather than clinical, conclusions (e.g., there is a "direct relationship between a large disposable income and drug use"), but this is a minor quibble. For large public libraries and those academic libraries that need the PPM results. Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Hartford
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax; First ediito edition (August 29, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786867272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786867271
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,593,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michele T. Woodward on October 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I've been telling my friends about this book -- and here's what I say: For those of us fortunate enough to be able to give our children a lot of advantages, this book reminds us that our job as parents is not to be indulgent, but rather to set and enforce limits so that our children can develop their own sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Not exactly rocket-science, but a good and timely reminder. Dr. Kindlon urges parents to use TLC -- Time, Limits and Caring -- as the means for our children grow to be the independent adults they will need to be. His discussion of the politics surrounding college placement were very revealing to me. Some parents have the expectation that their child is destined for Harvard which is, very likely, setting that child up for failure. The big plus in this book is that much of it is drawn from statistical research, so Dr. Kindlon backs up his assertions on "indulgent parenting" with reasonable science. I really appreciated this book, and hope you do, too.
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Format: Hardcover
Choosing character as the focal point of the book brings out an interesting perspective on raising kids. This book is not about developing smarts, physical or artistic ability, and not even about disciplining your children. Moreover, it goes as far as suggesting that getting your teenager into the right college may be a counterproductive goal (imagine that!) Refreshingly, it zooms in on what kids need to develop a personality, rather than on what, perhaps, parents want them to have, and that alone sets the book apart. Many of the book's findings are based on statistical analysis of focused studies, which again is both rare and welcomed.

Being a parent is a demanding job, but many of us refuse to see it as such. We work enough at work, and at home we often seek some indulgence and fun with our kids. We want to be their friends rather than their guardians. At every moment, we want them to love us, and in any case not hate us. In short, oftentimes we are parenting for ourselves, rather than for our kids, for our convenience and pleasure. All this is not good news for our children. In fact, it betrays our rather passive role in their upbringing.

Some of the findings stand out as less obvious. That eating disorders in most cases can be traced to early childhood. That early learning of self-control, of coping with delayed gratification and boredom lead to higher SAT scores. That most sexually active teens wish they had waited.

The most thriving group of kids participating in the main study shared five characteristics. They had dinner with the family on a regular basis. Their parents were not divorced. Their room was clean. They engaged in community (even household) service. And they did not have a phone in their room.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is long on descriptions and diagnosis, and relatively brief on advice. Wealthy, professionally successful parents tend to make life too easy for their children while imposing high expectations about academics and sports. Such children are highly likely to worry too much, feel depressed, be sad, or feel pressure to be perfect. In general, these children fail to develop life skills necessary to deal with inevitable setbacks and challenges on their own. In frustration over their perceived lack of competence, many indulge in drugs, alcohol, and inappropriate sexual practices. Some misbehavior is designed to get attention from distracted parents.
The prescription is that parents should set a good example, spend more time with their children (especially at dinner time), set limits so that their children will only take on challenges they are ready for, establish clear and consistent ways of enforcing limits, be caring, and help their kids take on greater, appropriate challenges as time passes.
The seeds of the problem relate to the parents' unresolved conflicts about parenting roles. They want their kids to be happy, but haven't thought through what's needed. Having more and more unearned freedom and choice creates dissatisfaction. Being more and more competent provides engaged, meaningful flow experiences. The parents want to be too much of a pal, and not enough of a parent.
To deal with this, Professor Kindlon encourages readers to think about the best things their parents did for them that are appropriate for their own children . . . and use those as models. Equally, parents should avoid overcompensating for what they disliked most about what their own parents did.
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Format: Hardcover
According to child development expert Dan Kindlon, the answer is no, but the answer is not as simple as it looks. What if the shoes are forgotten two hours away? Do you drive back and get them? Bother someone else to bring or send them to you? What if they are needed for her activities the next day? Do you borrow some? Make her wear less than ideal footwear until you have time to go back to pick them up? Wouldn't buying a new pair of cheapo sneakers actually be the least costly thing to do? Will she always expect you to fix things for her when she makes a mistake? These questions all flashed through Dr. Kindlon's mind as he struggled with the case of his eight-year-old daughter Julia's forgotten sneakers, but he hunkered down and did what he thought was the right thing--made her wear hiking boots to camp until an appropriate time came for the family to help her retrieve them.
Throughout his beautifully researched and thoughtfully-written volume on the issues of raising children today, Kindlon reveals his keen intelligence and kind heart as he discusses the potential long-term consequences of daily life decisions. His on-the-mark examples show that he is in-synch with the situations of today's families, and his experience and knowledge make him a fine guide as he plays out archetypal domestic scenarios to their logical conclusions. His advice is sage, pithy and practical, but never pedantic. He reads like Billy Crystal with a PhD in parenting.
Kindlon, the co-author (with Michael Thompson) of the poignant Raising Cain--which deals with the issues of raising young men in a culture that celebrates a certain image of the cool, unfeeling, in-control male--certainly knows the daily grind of sandwich-making and car-pool driving.
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