Too-Perfect Parents Are Landing Kids in Therapy

Loving, supportive parents leave kids ill-equipped for adulthood, Lori Gottlieb writes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2011 7:50 AM CDT
Updated Jun 19, 2011 6:45 AM CDT
Lori Gottlieb: Caring Too Much Can Land Kids in Therapy
Toddlers are more resilient than many parents seem to believe, Gottlieb writes.   (Shutterstock)

Working as a therapist upended everything Lori Gottlieb thought she had learned about parenting, she writes in an Atlantic piece certain to stir a Tiger Mom-sized controversy. Gottlieb found many depressed, anxious patients on her couch—who instead of recounting their horrible childhoods, waxed poetic about their loving parents who cared about nothing more than their happiness. Modern parents, she realizes, may be creating unhappy adults by caring so much about their children's happiness that they insulate them from discomfort and criticism, leaving them unable to handle the setbacks of adult life.

Much like the immune system needs to be exposed to pathogens, "kids also need exposure to discomfort, failure, and struggle," a child psychologist tells Gottlieb. "I know parents who call up the school to complain if their kid doesn’t get to be in the school play or make the cut for the baseball team." Parents may be mistaking their own emotional needs for their children's, creating a generation of narcissists as a result, Gottlieb writes. "By trying so hard to provide the perfectly happy childhood, we’re just making it harder for our kids to actually grow up," she writes. "Maybe we parents are the ones who have some growing up to do—and some letting go." Click to read Gottlieb's entire piece. (More parenting stories.)

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