Spoiling Childhood: How Well-Meaning Parents Are Giving Children Too Much - But Not What They Need

Diane Ehrensaft, Author Guilford Publications $35 (263p) ISBN 978-1-57230-211-2
Ehrensaft, a northern California psychologist, coins the word kinderdult--half baby, half miniature adult--to describe the dual identity that she believes characterizes many of today's children. Overvalued and overindulged, yet granted freedoms far beyond their ability to handle, these children ""face many risks and shoulder heavy psychological burdens,"" including self-centeredness, aggression and chronic anxiety. To integrate this troubling double-exposure and give childhood back to these kids, the author urges parents to offer their children more time and less pressure to be ""perfect."" Citing numerous cases of conflicted families from her private practice (including one with an eight-year-old who chillingly describes herself as ""a princess responsible for nothing""), as well as sharing her own parenting missteps, Ehrensaft examines the stresses on families in light of the fast-track contemporary American culture in which there are no clear parenting directives. The author's approach, which focuses on psychological analysis, limits her suggestions for concrete behavioral changes but at the same times avoids reductive or formulaic declarations and encourages parents to consider this insightful, well-argued discussion in the context of their own parenting styles. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 06/30/1997
Release date: 11/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 263 pages - 978-1-57230-450-5
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