Overparenting on Parade

Grab the November issue of The New Yorker and thumb to The Child Trap: The Rise of Overparenting by Joan Acocella. It's a good look at the recent parenting phenomenon - you know, spoiling (toys, few rules, too many birthday parties) combined with parental anxiety (are formula, tv, baby, germs, etc., harming my child?) and academic achievement demands (nursery interviews, phonics for toddlers, mandarin for preschoolers). She sorts through a few recent books on the topic - like "A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Overparenting" by Psychology Today editor Hara Estroff Marano. Books that basically sound the alarms about today's children, tomorrow's unemployed, listless adults. Fortunately Acocella ask a critical question - is this a real emergency? an epidemic? or could is be a very small segment of the population hovering over their children?


Tamar said...

I think that it is a small segment of the population at the extremes, but the anxiety that spawns the overprotectiveness is widespread.

In uncertain times, parents are more likely to swoop and rescue rather than encourage resilience and self-sufficiency-- so, looks like with the current economic situation we're going to see more swooping.

I think that parents can strike a balance and bring out the best in their kids rather than serving it to them. Being able to compassionately detach and see our kids struggle and then master is an essential skill.This is the subject of my new book, Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking: Powerful, Practical Strategies to Build a Lifetime of Resilience, Flexibility and Happiness.

If you'd like to see an excerpt, you can find one at www.freeingyourchild.com.

Tamar Chansky

Dr. Polly said...

Thanks, Tamar. Yes, I was just thinking about the economy in the crapper and its effects on kids and parents. Just heard a guy on NPR saying that we commit more people to mental health institutions in these harder economic times - not because people struggle more with mental health issue - but because we have lower frustration thresholds. We tolerate less out of the ordinary behavior. Makes me wonder if we'll see a sweling in the children diagnosed with a variety of disorders. Do you know anything about this? I also think your prediction is dead-on that parents, worried, frustrated, might pull in the reins even more. And perhaps, exert the little control they have left in the world - on their kids.

I know families with OCD and other anxiety disorders often get left out of discussions dominated by some of the more fashionable disorders. But thanks for your efforts. Good luck with the book, thanks for your professional insights! I'll be checking in at your website.