How to Land Your Kids in Therapy

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Lori Gottlieb, author of the New York Times bestseller Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, discusses the recent cultural change in parenting approaches and its psychological consequences on children.


Lori Gottlieb

Comments [32]

lost in translation from planet earth

I agree parents shouldn't set up unrealistic (great) expectations in their kids, but the opposite isn't better. I grew up in the snowflake generation and had to compete with kids who had that extra boost of self esteem and were driven; whereas, I lived in a household which largely overlooked my talents and refused to approve or appreciate any of my accomplishments (maybe due to our socio-economic situation or maybe just an unhealthy attitude towards parenting). I feel I have a different kind of "fragility" because no matter how successful I am in life, how many friends/influence I have, I still feel a bit empty inside. My achievements ring hollow. (If a tree falls in a forest...) Some degree of praise and encouragement is good. Especially when parents are good role models (ie, work hard, have/achieve goals/happiness of their own, have the right tools, give the right tools -knowledge, freedom & know-how- to their kids). I figured out a lot of this the hard way, on my own. If I ever have kids, I will make sure that they are well equipped for the world, but above all have that battery pack of love and resilience, and a feeling of belonging that I so search for.

Aug. 04 2011 04:35 AM
Meryl from NYC, NY

I don't think this entitlement extends across an entire generation. I am a social worker at an outpatient clinic in the South Bronx and I wish the children and families I work with in therapy had more of a sense of entitlement and a sense of uniqueness and specialness. Many of them have wonderful gifts--arts, writing, social skills etc. When I point this out, their parents (and the kids) are genuinely surprised that unique gifts have any inherent value and are worth investing time and energy in developing. It's sad.

Aug. 03 2011 10:03 PM
Bob from new york

Brian, I love your show but could you please stop using the term "class" to identify the economic disparity in our society. It was related to a good question you had about whether the issue of hyper supportive parenting was specifically a problem of the affluent. Class was a term originally used to identify the believed "god given" distinction among sets of people and its use today only supports the stereotypical thinking that people fall into categories that make them better than those from "another class".

Aug. 03 2011 08:15 PM
Ann from Montclair

Kids today. Isn't that an old refrain?

It doesn't matter how much parents coddle their kids. When they get out in the world the entitlement gets clobbered out of them--especially in a bad economy. Young people are resilient and adjust. Our penchant for defining the character of a generation makes us forget that people grow and change with experience.

Aug. 03 2011 12:21 PM
Graham McNamara from Jersey City

Re: Richard from Manhattan
I think the point is not to stifle creativity, that would certainly be wrong and I agree with you.
But society should not tell every child who has the ability to pick up a pencil, that they will be the next Picasso.
The problem with my (our?) generation is the sense of entitlement. Wanting something isn't enough, you have to be both good at it and have the motivation to work hard.

Aug. 03 2011 12:17 PM
Ann from Montclair

Kids today. Isn't that an old refrain?

It doesn't matter how much parents coddle their kids. When they get out in the world the entitlement gets clobbered out of them--especially in a bad economy. Young people are resilient and adjust. Our penchant for defining the character of a generation makes us forget that people grow and change with experience.

Aug. 03 2011 12:13 PM
Bob from NYC

One of the reasons I got divorced was my ex's over-the-top approach to parenting her "uinique and special kids." Recently when I told my 14-year-old daughter she might not get into the school she wanted she said, "Thanks for not just telling me how great I am and that of course I will get in. I appreciate you're realistic to me."

Aug. 03 2011 12:11 PM

I actually received this sort of unrealistic praise not from my parents, but from my teachers! From elementary school throughout graduate school, I have always heard things from my teachers such as , "You can be whatever you want, I see you becoming the first woman president, you'll have no problem finding a job after graduation, etc" and guess what, none of those things happened.

Aug. 03 2011 12:10 PM
Richard from Manhattan

Screw realism, dream and find your true human potential and spirit. The "real world" often wants everyone to conform and fit into comfortable roles.

The greatest thinkers and achievers are often people who broke all the rules, marched to the beat of their own drummer etc, "don't die with the music still in you".

I think the key is to give people the ability to see the real world for what it is, teach them how to live in it, but to give the the ability to still dream and achieve the "impossible" and make their own lives and the world a better place :)

Aug. 03 2011 12:08 PM
Marie from NYC

As a college professor, I can tell attest to the notion that students today are not only more fragile but feel more entitled to praise than previous generations. It seems that everyone thinks they deserve the A and more and more of my time is taken up each semester arguing with students about the quality of their work and why "working hard" (a quite subjective term) is not necessarily equivalent to earning an A. I continuously hear from students why I have failed them when they earn anything below an A- (usually because my courses are too boring for them to be able to pay attention) and then I have to discuss with them the concepts of personal responsibility and independent learning. It is beyond frustrating and I really hope that as a parent, I will do a better job of instilling a sense of reality in my own children so that by the time they are young adults attending college, they will not drive their professors batty with unfounded arguments about their worth.

Aug. 03 2011 12:05 PM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

@ Aaron from NYC

I thought you had something to do with the betterment of the world! Thanks! ;~)

Aug. 03 2011 12:05 PM
Brian from Hoboken

As a Gen X who does a lot ofthe recruiting for my company, I can certainly attest to the sense of achievement and entitlement among the Millenials. These kids have done nothing so far yet feel they should be doing so much more than they are actually capable of doing. This is what happens when everyone gets a trophy, even the 9th place kid. This is the result of the overindulgent Baby Boomer helicopter parents who wanted to be friends with their kids instead of being their parent.

Aug. 03 2011 12:05 PM
Andy from Livingston, NJ

Thanks for your huge, negative generalizations about "these kids today". Read this for more generational bashing. >>

Aug. 03 2011 12:05 PM
Graham McNamara from Jersey City

I am an artist originally from London and moved here 4 years ago straight out of university. We grew up with a 'reasonable expectations' notion in schools and from parents.
When I moved here the artists/musicians/actors I meet here of the similar age as myself were so shocked by the real world! Many of them are no longer 'following there dreams'.

Aug. 03 2011 12:05 PM
Robert Plautz from New York

I am far from my 20s and 30s, but isn't what your guest is talking about been called for generations "being spoiled?" With respect to girls, hasn't this been called in the past, raised as a "princess?"

Aug. 03 2011 12:05 PM
john from NYC

In "the old days" people could not afford fancy camps, so they sent their kids to a "wilderness camp," for example in Canada, where you had to rough it.

It was dangerous, but you learned to take care of your self.

Aug. 03 2011 12:04 PM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

Hear! Hear!

The CONSTANT praising drives me nuts!

Luckily my daughter does not experience that! ;~)

(it's a joke for all the serious folks out there).

Aug. 03 2011 12:03 PM
Amy from Ridgewood

I'm 48, and I found it hard to live up to my parents' generation, who accepted life as it came to them (during the 1930s, 40s, and early 1950s), not some modern idea that life is supposed to be charmed, beautiful, and self-actualized. High expectations are the best way to find disappointment.

Aug. 03 2011 12:03 PM
myself from Flushing

Nowadays everyone wants fame, or to be an American Idol. Everyone thinks they're winning! If they're not, they're suicidal.

Aug. 03 2011 12:03 PM

Narcissistic parenting. Not a good idea.

Aug. 03 2011 12:03 PM
Jim from New Jersey

I think that a person's beliefs about the younger generations is basically a reflection of how they view the future. If you think society is headed in the wrong direction, then you characterize the youths you see in a negative way. After all, there are a lot of positive characteristics about young people today, but people like Brian's guest this morning are focusing on the negatives. Too bad for her!

Aug. 03 2011 12:03 PM
Rohana from New York

I think this must be somewhat related to what income bracket you fit in...thoughts on that? I can't imagine a kid who has had to work from her teen years on being quite so fragile. (Ask me if I speak from experience?)

Aug. 03 2011 12:01 PM
shashi from NYC

Kids are more anxious today is that there are no societal "tests" (such as mandatory service to the country) to mark their formal entrance into adulthood as well as providing a sense of pride, accomplishment and self-esteem. Kids today remain forever children--well into their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. That not having concrete evidence of your worth promotes free-floating anxiety.

Aug. 03 2011 12:01 PM
Stephen Bloch from Queens

There is research (reported in New York magazine in the past few months) showing that kids who are praised with "You're so smart" expect everything to come easily, and give up when something doesn't, while those praised with "You must have worked really hard" are more likely to respond to failure with working harder.

Your recent caller points out the down-side of the latter approach, if it goes a step farther to "You can do anything if you work hard enough": in reality, sometimes you CAN'T do something, no matter how hard you work.

Aug. 03 2011 12:00 PM

I come from one of the least parented generations in the the 20th century. Lived in Hell's Kitchen in the late 60's - early 70's. A playdate for me and my siblings was my mom handing us a bag of rusty nails, opening the front door and saying, "Dinner's at six. Try not to be so hungry." Very funny how we've gone to the other extreme.

Aug. 03 2011 12:00 PM
Aaron from NYC

After 7 married years, my parents unwilling to bring a life into this ugly world (early 70's) ultimately decided that if they raised their child right - that child could influence the world for the better. (!?)

I don't know about you- but i feel like things have really improved...

you're all welcome

Aug. 03 2011 11:59 AM
Xtina from E. Village

When you are ordering food at a take out restaurant and the 20-something clerk complains you are not asking them respectfully enough, you know there is a problem.

Aug. 03 2011 11:58 AM

As a parent with a kid at the same progressive school as Jon Stewart I can validate his observations.

No competition, over financed - under supervised and no "NO"!

It's a little too much.

Aug. 03 2011 11:58 AM
jmurphy from long island

Brian, I am 44, the only child of a depressed single mother. Because the rest of her life was not the way she wanted, she always told me I was perfect.

I have spent my entire life trying to live up to that. (I see my therapist on Thursdays.)

Aug. 03 2011 11:58 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

In an article I read (I don't remember where) that generation was called the "Entitled Generation"...I thought it was quite apt.

Aug. 03 2011 11:57 AM

with billions of people in the world, a false sense of self is quite misleading. I blame Sex in the City, lol.

Aug. 03 2011 11:54 AM
John A.

Are you talking about the willingness to use meds before discipline?
This boy reported in using music from a popular kids show:
"I've been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, ...
Mental Illnesses... Gotta catch em' all!"
-- singer-songwriter Tim, WNYC Radio Rookies, 23-Jun-2011

Aug. 03 2011 11:50 AM

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