Thanks to offhand comments from her son ("You're a mean mom!") and underhanded comments from other parents ("Your son's very competitive!"), Karen Houppert wakes up at 2:30am every day, wrestling with self-doubt. The newest parenting trend—family coaches to perfect your child-raising skills—joins the already $2.1 trillion "mommy market" of advice and enrichment for sale. "And what if you resist such costly 'enrichment' for junior?" she writes for Salon. Answer? "Bad mommy!"
"All these well-intentioned tips just stoke my anxiety," she continues. But maybe they're not-so-well-intentioned: Harried parents are lured in with "a few strategically placed buzzwords" and offered bogus quick fixes. Your own kid starts to look like a failure—your failure. Finally, Houppert decides to give her 11-year-old a break. "The future doesn't worry him a bit. I try to resist the temptation to mold his plastic mind in preparation for successful living when he is already happily living the good life right now."