• U.S.

The Book: Monster Alert!

2 minute read
Tim Padgett

After Dan Kindlon co-wrote the 1999 best seller about modern boys, Raising Cain, he suddenly had what so many others suddenly had in the 1990s: bucks. But Kindlon, 48, a Harvard child-psychology professor and family therapist, also had two children–and his clinical concerns about kids got personal. “My kids would do something bratty, like scream about a topping on their pizza,” he says, “and I’d worry, ‘Am I creating monsters?'”

He says he knows he isn’t. Still, researching his new book, Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age (Talk Miramax Books), led to a tightening of some of his looser parenting policies. “As a family, we are happier for it,” he writes. Kindlon thinks there’s a lesson in this for a lot of parents. Some of them probably know it at some level: two-thirds of the 1,078 affluent parents he surveyed across the country said they were spoiling their kids. “You usually get underreporting when you ask a question that challenges their child raising that way,” he says. “This was surprising.”

Kindlon argues that as parents, his fellow baby boomers rely too much on their permissive behavioral values and too little on the antimaterialistic values that shaped their youth. They tend to coddle their children in an effort to insulate them from any discomfort. It’s no coincidence, Kindlon suggests, that some educators recently decided that “dodge ball wasn’t good [for kids].” Kindlon would never wish World War II or Vietnam on today’s children–but he does believe they could use a few character-building lumps, if only from a rubber ball.

–T.P.

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