How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting Our Kids – and What to Do About It
By Betsy Hart
Book review by Nancy Taylor
“Somebody needs a nap!”
Put the words ‘raising great kids’ into Amazon.com and you find quite a number of resources. Ask many parents or parenting experts, and they will likely tell you making sure your child feels good about himself, has high self esteem, and is treated positively and with respect will ensure the happiest, healthiest adults. Sounds great, and many people strive to do just that. The problem is that may just not be the best way to raise kids. Maybe by allowing our children too many choices and giving them too much latitude, we are actually creating people who are growing up to be unhappy, self-absorbed and incapable of maintaining relationships. Perhaps we should be raising them more like our parents raised us; making sure they understand that they simply will not have everything they want in this life, some people will have power over them and they will often have no choice but to put the needs of others first. In her latest book, nationally syndicated columnist Betsy Hart helps parents mire through the advice of experts to figure out how best to attack the problem of parenting in a society where human nature remains the same, but the rules have changed, standards have loosened, and a vast number of families are relying less on religious influence to raise their kids.
Time and time again in the book, Hart says ‘this is more a book about parents than kids.’ She admits that there are ways in which her own children are over-indulged and understands very well how that can happen. Popular opinion is that we should allow children latitude, they must be given the opportunity to make their own decisions and that anything less will paralyze them. We live in a society where there is a fair amount of parental guilt about the amount of time we do not spend with our children, and we make the trade of ‘quality time’ over ‘quantity time.’ Some parents, in an effort to compensate for their time away from their kids overindulge them materially, but many are simply so paralyzed by the fear of what putting their foot down will do to little Junior’s psyche that they cannot bring themselves to be disciplinarians at all. How many times have we witnessed a child behaving like a spoiled brat, only to hear the parents excuse his behavior as being because their child is ‘tired?’ Have we done that ourselves?
It Takes a Parent is Betsy Hart’s best effort to help parents to see how much our culture of indulgent parenting is hurting our kids. She cites statistical data that supports that in spite of our ‘enlightened’ way of thinking, kids have more problems at a younger age than ever before. Schools are seeing violent behavior starting as early as kindergarten, and alternative schools for non-compliant elementary schools are becoming more and more commonplace. 1,000 school districts nationwide have this type of alternative education, up from zero just a decade ago. Depression, suicide and learning disorders like ADD/ADHD are on the rise. While Hart admits that some of the increases are due to better reporting and diagnosing, many can be attributed to kids being more troubled today than ever before.
So, can we take back control of our children and families to help our kids grow up to be happy and healthy? Or are we trapped in the culture we are in without any way to regain what we have lost? Hart’s enlightening book is a helpful tool for parents who can see the need for a change in our child-rearing strategies, but are unsure how to attack the problem. Chapters like ‘Kids Gone Wild,’ ‘It’s All About Me – Not!,’ “Our Children, Our Idols’ and ‘Challenge the Experts For the Sake of Your Child’ give parents the tools, and the courage, to oppose the prevailing ‘wisdom’ and raise kids in a more traditional way.
Betsy Hart is a nationally syndicated columnist whose weekly column “From the Hart” offers practical views on cultural, family and political issues and is distributed to newspapers nationwide. Her book; It Takes a Parent is available in bookstores nationwide, online booksellers or atwww.penguin.com.