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Can a Happy Childhood Lead to an Unhappy Adulthood?

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An article by therapist and writer Lori Gottlieb in this month’s Atlantic Magazine explores a fascinating and provocative question: is it possible to pay too much attention to your children, setting them up for an inability to cope with real life later?
Plus: Does Having Kids Make You Less Happy?

Gottlieb, a mom herself, says when she started her practice she noticed a trend: patients who’d had wonderfully involved and supportive parents were landing in her office to complain of depression, emptiness and indecision. These are parents who tell their children “good job” constantly, and “good try” when they miss the mark. Instead of telling them what’s what, they give their children choices. They honor their child’s feelings and work out a compromise instead of saying no. Gottlieb hypothesizes that by shielding their kids from disappointment and anxiety, parents also shield them from experiences that build resiliency and true self-esteem. Being too attuned to kids’ feelings also keeps them from growing out of the narcissism of childhood, so they can’t cope with criticism at work or cooperate as part of a team as young adults.
Plus: How to Be a Happier Mom

The long article raises a lot of interesting questions, and is worth a read. What do you think of this idea that parents are actually crippling their kids by being sensitive to their every need? Do today’s kids need to be toughen up?

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