Why the kids aren’t growing up

Do less for your kids. Give them rules and discipline and love. Don’t be their friend. Be their parent. Let them be bored, let them screw up. Teach them no, please, thank you and table manners. An industry of psychologists and gentle parenting help on the margins but likely cause more damage than help.

That’s from conservative author Abigail Shrier’s new book Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren’t Growing Up.

The book starts off with a big, wide criticism of therapy and mental wellness, of which I was skeptical. But as Shrier turned to its impact on parenting styles, my interest grew — especially as a parent of young children myself. In the end, I found it to be a welcome contribution to Jonathan Haidt’s high-profile Anxious Generation.

Below I share my notes for future reference.

Continue reading Why the kids aren’t growing up

Ban smartphones from schools

Parents and schools should treat social media like they do cigarettes — unhealthy addictions that are distracting from learning and development.

That’s the big argument in “The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness,” a new popular book by psychologist Jonathan Haidt that has gotten widespread media attention.

“Social media use does not just correlate with mental illness,” he writes: “It causes it.”

Haidt has written several books on living healthier and happier, and he has researched social media use for years. But it’s this book at this time that met the moment: I’ve seen him interviewed by countless national media and at conferences. His advice marks one set of strategies for how parents and wider society can respond to the mounting evidence that algorithmic feeds of addictive content is especially challenging for children to overcome.

Below I share a few points I’m taking into my own parenting.

Continue reading Ban smartphones from schools

When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic

Kids who graduates with high marks at high-achieving schools were later put into a high-risk category for mental health disorders.

Something felt off, so journalist Jennifer Breheny Wallace wrote ” “Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic-and What We Can Do About It.”

I read it as a parent, so my notes are scant but the point is clear: Pushing kids for academic achievements can reverse course years later. Better to encourage a healthy and happy relationship with learning. Trouble is that short-term outcomes look good for pushing kids — grades go up — but on the longtail, they’re less happy.

Continue reading When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic

How was your pandemic?

This month the U.S. government suspended the health emergency, effectively ending the pandemic.

That doesn’t mean covid-19 is gone (it isn’t); it doesn’t mean it won’t flare back up (it could); it doesn’t mean we won’t have another pandemic someday (we might). But it does mark the end of this nearly 3.5 year period.

Millions of lives were lost, and economic and psychological trauma was enacted, all of which we’re still confronting. As a coping mechanism, a friend and I were talking about the little behavior changes that took root, some of which we may reference for years to come. At the very beginning my Technical.ly newsroom was interested in what and how we would create.

I kept up my resolutions, and they were different than before covid-19. I’ll always reference these few simple behavior changes that now feel entrenched as part of me after so many life changes:

Continue reading How was your pandemic?

The Emotional Life of a Toddler

Once my second kid started sleeping through the night, the most challenging part of raising two young kids became navigating my older kid’s emotional toddler stage.

For nearly two years after crossing six months old, I found our first kid to be a great listener. Then the tantrums and outbursts began. We know why. That toddler and pre-schooler stage is the height of emotional and social development. It’s tricky.

I find many parent social posters and expert books to be genuinely helpful. One of the classics of the genre is The Emotional Life of a Toddler, first published in 1993 by child psychologist and researcher Dr. Alicia Lieberman. I read the 2017 edition.

My notes below for future reference.

Continue reading The Emotional Life of a Toddler

One year later, here are my first small pieces of advice for new parents

A common joke I’ve heard among parents goes something like “The only parenting advice to take from other parents is to not take any parenting advice from other parents.

Yes, you can get too much advice; yes, each kid is a bit different and every family dynamic has its own quirks. But I really did get value in speaking to lots of friends and family before the birth of my first child a year ago. Granted, we spent the last year in a pandemic lockdown, so much of our experience won’t be recreated.

Exactly because of that, I won’t be overdoing it with advice. Still, I do think a few short pieces of advice were most helpful for me. Take it or leave it.

Continue reading One year later, here are my first small pieces of advice for new parents