cover image A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting

A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, . . Broadway, $23.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-2403-0

Marano, editor-at-large at Psychology Today and author (Why Doesn't Anybody Like Me? A Guide to Raising Socially Confident Kids ), takes a penetrating look at the growing trend of invasive parenting. Marano likens many parents to hovering helicopters or snowplows trying to remove all obstacles. The unfortunate result is that children become increasingly fragile, unable to make decisions or cope with failure. Interspersing her text with interviews from experts and cutting-edge research, Marano follows the trail from heavily programmed preschoolers and overprotected grade school kids to stressed out, overachieving high school students and dependent college kids caught in a rising campus mental health crisis (thanks to cellphones, the new umbilical cord, they carry their parents “in their jeans pockets”). Rather than helping children to find success and happiness, the author argues, this over-involvement has exploded into a generation of infantilized “wimps” who can't handle everyday life. Instead, she advises, “help your kids fail”—more is learned from mistakes than from success, including critical thinking skills. The book is chock-full of fascinating information, some of it controversial, such as a suspected link between a diagnosis of ADHD and insufficient free play in the early years. Marano's dire warning to back off will hit a raw nerve with many parents, but her message may come not a moment too soon for their kids. (Apr.)