Judith Warner's NYT review of Teach Your Children Well, Marin County family therapist Madeline Levine's nuclear takedown of hyper-competitive Boomer parenting, is a thing of depressing beauty. The end of this sentence:
Other kids cheat, take drugs, drink, shut down or, worse still, keep up their tightrope act of parent-pleasing, Ivy-aiming high achievement while quietly, invisibly dying inside.Maybe I'm just a little sensitive today or something, but Levine's not really all that controversial call to arms feels very ominous and major to me:
These are parents who run themselves ragged with work and hyper-parenting, presenting an "eviscerated vision of the successful life" that their children are then programmed to imitate. They're parents who are physically hyper-present but somehow psychologically M.I.A.: so caught up in the script that runs through their heads about how to "do right" by their children that they can't see when the excesses of keeping up, bulking up, getting a leg up and generally running scared send the whole enterprise of ostensible care and nurturing right off the rails.
There comes a point in parenting, where we must decide whether to maintain the status quo or, armed with new information, choose a different course. There is little question that our children are living in a world that is not simply oblivious to their needs, but is actually damaging them.Which is especially odd because the book itself looks pretty unremarkable. Or maybe it's the way those clumsy, soundbitey, subtitles quietly, invisibly kill me inside. And this book has two! Damn, I hate those things.