Review: The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grownups, by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

A friend recommended this book and this past weekend I read a large portion of it. It’s aimed at parents and others who are directly involved in raising children, and cites some pretty striking research about the negative outcomes of giving children more freedom and flexibility than they can handle. Children being given the control over their lives that ought to be reserved for responsible adults are far more likely to develop anxiety, depression and obesity; they have less attachment to their families and adults in general, and are more likely to turn to peers for advice. Their peers, of course, are not apt to know any more than them about making wise choices about life.

It’s a conundrum for some: after all, kids have to learn how to make choices, but they can’t handle the full variety of options that many parents want to give them. Learning how to present a narrow, fair range of choices is, apparently, a challenge for parents who are desperate to be liked. This craving for their children’s approval underlies a lot of dysfunctional, but seemingly well-intended, parenting. I described a parent’s style as a “democracy” (the children are school age) and the parent took it as a compliment…as if being democratic with children, where no one is really in charge and knows best, was a good plan.

Do kids need choices? Absolutely. Do they need – or can they even handle – the full range of options that an adult might handle? Absolutely not.

For parents, teachers, grandparents and others who work with children, this book is a friendly, accessible but thoroughly footnoted guide.

Dr. Lori Puterbaugh

© 2016

Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.

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