Opinion Brief

Best way to screw up your kids: A 'perfect' childhood?

Protecting your children from life's hard knocks may send them straight to the therapist's couch, argues Lori Gottlieb in The Atlantic  

Though today's parents are obsessed with their children's happiness, says therapist (and mother) Lori Gottlieb in The Atlantic, that may well turn them into unhappy adults. By refusing to let kids fail or feel pain, we're preventing them from growing up, leaving them "empty, confused, and anxious." Parents should back off, Gottlieb says, because kids raised to think they're "entitled to a perfect life" are bound to wind up disappointed. Is she right?

Some parents do need to relax: Gottlieb's right, says Anna North at Jezebel. Parents should stop "freaking out" about trying to be perfect. The "hyper-coddling modern parent" is cranking out kids who are unequipped to deal with the real world. We all need to remember, and accept, that there are "some things you just can't control. And trying to control them often causes more harm than good."
"Marry Him author Lori Gottlieb has surprisingly sane take on parenting"

Good parents aren't the problem: It's "open season" on the so-called "helicopter parent," says Adele Horin at The Sydney Morning Herald, especially those who "commit the unpardonable sin of boosting their child's self-esteem by praising work that may not be first-class." Sure, smothering parents can rob their kids of initiative and independence, but let's maintain some perspective: Truly cruel, neglectful, or exploitative moms and dads are the real "parenting sinners." Kids whose parents "err on the side of kindness" should count themselves lucky.
"Helicopter parents under attack"

The trick is striking a balance: Pumping up a kid's self-esteem has its place, says Keith Magill at Houma Today. "I remember how wonderful it felt to be coddled by my mom or dad as a kid." But in the workplace, I've also seen young adults fall "to pieces when a boss or coworker offers constructive criticism," because they had always been assured they were perfect. So don't go too hard on your kids, but don't sugarcoat everything either. The path to happiness lies somewhere in between.
"The pursuit of happiness"

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