Awhile ago I spoke positively about an interesting new book by Hara Estroff Marano entitled A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting. Marano is an award-winning writer and editor-at-large for Psychology Today, which published this lengthy review article of the book.
I have not read or seen Marano’s book yet, but I was happy to read what seems to be a balanced WSJ review by Tony Woodlief, himself a Christian blogger. Woodlief argues that Marano is on the mark in critiquing the invasiveness and over-protection tendencies of many parents today who guard their children from risks and consequences while pushing them in sports and other activities in the hope of getting them into elite colleges. However, she overreaches:
Unfortunately, it’s not just the parents aiming their elementary-school kids at Harvard and Stanford who draw Ms. Marano’s fire. It’s parents who don’t send their children off to sleepaway summer camps. It’s those nutty home-schoolers. It’s women professionals who choose to be stay-at-home moms while their children are young and parents who prefer not to hand their infants over to a daycare center. It’s cellphones, and globalization and American individualism.
Ms. Marano is fond of referring to “how things used to be,” but she seems to idealize a sliver of American parenting history, one that started shortly after Gloria Steinem declared stay-at-home mothers valueless and ended before millions of women decided that Ms. Steinem and her crowd were saps. In the how-things-used-to-be category, it is helpful for us to remember that Teddy Roosevelt, the quintessential American anti-wimp — he once killed a mountain lion with a knife — grew up enjoying a close relationship with his parents, including extended family vacations (no summer camp!), home schooling (call the teachers’ union!) and close contact even after he left for college (cut the cord, Mrs. Roosevelt!). TR’s own children suffered similar “overparenting,” yet they went on to be war heroes and successful citizens. American history teems with similar examples.
Seems like a helpful corrective from Woodlief. Read the whole thing.