Do Kids Sometimes Need To Hate Their Parents?
That's what a panel written about in The Atlantic says.
Children need nurturing, but they also need "something to bump up against."
My column criticizing kid-coddling and the pressure to engage in it is here:
You're supposed to be your kids' mom, not their full-time birthday clown. This means meeting their needs, as opposed to falling prey to their ransom demands...
...Saying no to your kids will not turn them into meth-smoking, liquor store-robbing carjackers. Actually, throwing up a few boundaries might even serve to prevent this -- and less dire but extremely annoying outcomes (just what society needs, another 35-year-old snot who was denied nothing during childhood). Kids need to feel loved and secure -- and that doesn't take hours of mommy-and-me Lego. In fact, psychologist Judith Rich Harris writes that "anthropological data suggest...there may be something a little unnatural about adults playing with children." Anthropologist David F. Lancy notes that, beyond Western society, one "rarely" sees it. Regarding this apparent lack of a parental instinct for parent-child play, Harris writes, "This implies that children do not require play with an adult in order to develop normally."
I know, I know, that's not what The Cult Of The Child tells you -- when its proponents aren't too busy checking Amazon to see whether anybody's published "The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Children." The reality is, your family is better served by a stay-at-home mother than a stay-at-home martyr. Take the advice of the late British pediatrician Donald Winnicott, and avoid trying to be the perfect mother -- micromanaging your little darlings' every move ("Harvard or bust!") -- and just be a "good enough mother." Your kids can entertain themselves -- and will, if you suggest they do.
Via Lenona, this piece by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker, "Why Are American Kids So Spoiled?":
"Parents want their kids' approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents' approval," Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, both professors of psychology, have written. In many middle-class families, children have one, two, sometimes three adults at their beck and call. This is a social experiment on a grand scale, and a growing number of adults fear that it isn't working out so well: according to one poll, commissioned by Time and CNN, two-thirds of American parents think that their children are spoiled.
The notion that we may be raising a generation of kids who can't, or at least won't, tie their own shoes has given rise to a new genre of parenting books. Their titles tend to be either dolorous ("The Price of Privilege") or downright hostile ("The Narcissism Epidemic," "Mean Moms Rule," "A Nation of Wimps"). The books are less how-to guides than how-not-to's: how not to give in to your toddler, how not to intervene whenever your teen-ager looks bored, how not to spend two hundred thousand dollars on tuition only to find your twenty-something graduate back at home, drinking all your beer.