This parenting bible is about “how parental pressure and material advantage are creating a generation of disconnected and unhappy kids.” Madeline Levine, a Marin-county based psychologist wrote this bestseller, which begins with a broad definition of privilege: the “relatively affluent”, or a family that earns $75,000 + annually as a household. These are America’s new at-risk kids, and since privilege is a relative term that envelops so many families, it’s worth taking a look at what problems these teens have, and how we can address them (or better yet, prevent them). These aren’t just “rich kid” issues anymore.
What is creating this generation of unhappy kids who are spoiled with material wealth and opportunity? According to Levine, many are denied the opportunity to develop a “healthy self”, which at its core is a feeling of lovability — NOT worth reinforced by achievement. She believes that parents pressure children to be outstanding, while neglecting the very process by which outstanding children are formed.
What is that process?
It begins with a self-efficacy, which is the idea that we can successfully impact our world. It starts in infancy, with warm and responsive parents. Parents who can avoid anxiety and allow for children to engage in creative play without intruding, managing, or becoming overinvolved help teach their children a sense of “agency,” which helps them try out new and challenging experiences.
Healthy selves are able to develop other skills essential for happiness and success. The most important of those are self-control, frustration tolerance, impulse control, paying attention, and delaying gratification.
Levine includes chapters that address developmental ages with suggestions for how to parent in order to help kids develop healthy selves. She explains why the self-esteem movement (a trophy for every participant, a graduation for every grade) has been damaging to self-efficacy and why praise is often a bad form of love.
I think what I like best about this book is that it helps parents understand what to do instead — she doesn’t just describe a problem and then the ideal teens who didn’t grow up with this problem. It’s very practical and based on hundreds of clients of experience.
Buy it here.