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The Parents We Mean to Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Developmentby Richard Weissbourd
Synopses & Reviews
A wake-up call for a national crisis in parenting--and a deeply helpful book for those who want to see their own behaviors as parents with the greatest possible clarity.
Harvard psychologist RichardWeissbourd argues incisively that parents—not peers, not television—are the primary shapers of their childrens moral lives. And yet, it is parents lack of self-awareness and confused priorities that are dangerously undermining childrens development.
Through the authors own original field research, including hundreds of rich, revealing conversations with children, parents, teachers, and coaches, a surprising picture emerges.
Parents intense focus on their childrens happiness is turning many children into self-involved, fragile conformists.The suddenly widespread desire of parents to be closer to their children—a heartening trend in many ways—often undercuts kidsmorality.Our fixation with being great parents—and our need for our children to reflect that greatness—can actually make them feel ashamed for failing to measure up. Finally, parents interactions with coaches and teachers—and coaches and teachers interactions with children—are critical arenas for nurturing, or eroding, childrens moral lives.
Weissbourds ultimately compassionate message—based on compelling new research—is that the intense, crisis-filled, and profoundly joyous process of raising a child can be a powerful force for our own moral development.
Harvard psychologist Richard Weissbourd argues incisively that parents—not peers, not television—are the primary shapers of their children's moral lives. His original field research reveals surprising, real threats to childrens moral and emotional development. Parents intense focus on their childrens happiness and success is turning many children into self-involved, fragile conformists. Many of us are organizing childrens lives around achievement, and sending hypocritical messages to our kids that erode our influence as moral mentors.
Weissbourd highlights the inspiring parents, teachers, and coaches, as well as concrete strategies for raising moral and happy children. Most importantly, he makes the case that rather than focusing narrowly on our childrens happiness or self-esteem, we should promote their maturity, including their ability to manage destructive impulses, to appreciate and to take responsibility for others—qualities that are at the heart of both morality and lasting well-being.
About the Author
Richard Weissbourd is a child and family psychologist on the faculty of Harvard's School of Education and Kennedy School of Government. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Chicago Tribune. Weissbourd is the author of The Vulnerable Child, recently named by the American School Board Journal as one of the top ten educational books of all time.
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