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How to Raise an Adult
August 3, 2015
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
-Mother Teresa

In her review in the New York Times of the book, How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott Haims, Heather Havrilesky makes this observation:

"When did the central aim of parenting become preparing children for success? This reigning paradigm, which dictates that every act of nurturing be judged on the basis of whether it will usher a child toward a life of accomplishment or failure, embodies the fundamental insecurity of global capitalist culture, with its unbending fixation on prosperity and the future. It's no surprise that parenting incites such heated debates, considering how paradoxical these principles can be when they're applied to children. When each nurturing act is administered with the distant future in mind, what becomes of the present? A child who soaks in the ambient anxiety that surrounds each trivial choice or activity is an anxious child, formed in the hand-wringing, future-focused image of her anxious parents."

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Comments (3)

Displaying All 3 Comments
Pennsylvania, United States
08/03/2015 05:36 am

Parenting is hard work and mistakes will be made. When my first child was born in 1987 I would read the Parenting magazines, but even then, I felt like I was not living up to the model parent as depicted in those magazines. I stopped getting them---too much judgement. I have a hard to passing judgement on other parents, I made that mistake once with a family member, and have learned to listen and be supportive. We do what we do for our children based on our own upbringing, our children's varied personalities and what we think is right. Yet, this leads so well into what is happening in early childhood today. Children are expected to take on so much more academic instruction and are losing that imaginative and playful childhood. My 7 month-old great-niece goes to a well-regarded daycare. The teacher had her watch a vinegar-baking soda volcano. What? Why does a baby need to see that? That means the teacher had to plan, prepare and clean up that mess instead of just sitting and playing with my niece. What are we doing and why is this okay? Stand up for a simple, relaxed and playful childhood and don't fall to the nonsensical demands that we hear and see in schools today. Stop this race to the top, because we're causing a lot of misery and pain along the way.

Francis Wardle
Denver, CO, United States
08/03/2015 05:31 am

Boy, do we love to blame parents for everything! I think much of the blame for this future orientation is educators and politicians. And what in the world has this got to do with capitalism? Its the educators and politicians who have taken away developing technical skills, the arts, PE, and those other activities that provide a sense of control and purpose for children as they progress through childhood, not as an end product. Many parents travel, join recreation sports teams, and so on simply because that is what we do with children. I think this is another case of focusing on a tiny population of elite parents in eastern America (which is what the Eastern Press tends to do).

Spirit Child Yoga and ECE
Aurora, ON, Canada
08/03/2015 04:47 am

Thank you for the link. After having read it, and my thinking about my own constant critique of my parenting to this point, I agree with may of the points made by the reviewer. I did go out to play until dinner, living in a world of children - bullies and allies, tree forts, skinned knees and the odd broken bone. my own kids did not have the freedom nor the responsibilities I did and it shows. But Doris Lessing! How could the author take a stab at Doris Lessing! Everyone should crack a Doris Lessing, with or without a Tom Collins and a smoke!

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