There are a lot of things American parents think they need for their child to grow up to be a happy adult:
. An elite education. . An endless number of enriching, exciting experiences. . A personal space outfitted with the latest....clothes, technology, furnishings. . A continual flow of positive reinforcement.
In fact, we are all striving to give our kids everything we felt we didn't have...but in the process, as this book so eloquently elaborates, we aren't giving them many of the things we had naturally in our childhoods which we never valued.
. A feeling a community...be it extended family, organized religion, or ethnic identification. Being connected to others in a positive way is one of the elements which has fallened by the wayside of 21st century life.
. Mastery of something "real"...not mastery of a video game but the process of genuine mastery of something...be it gardening, soccer, reading, cleaning out the garage...the whole process of finding something daunting, chosing to practice despite obstacles..and finally that feeling of "flow" when a sense of mastery is achieved.
. Flow. Free time, free thought, free truly being in a moment.
As adult we find ourselves striving for a sense of completion through spending more, consuming more, doing more....and we try to create happy adults by giving our child the same...more stuff, more "help", more dislocation.
A lot of this book is asking us to slow down, appreciate the now with our kids, let them fail and be there to encourage them, but not to "fix it" for them.
Particularly for parents who feel that their kids can never pack their Harvard applications too soon, this book is a declaration of independence from that thinking.