American Morning

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June 21st, 2011
10:36 AM ET

Could obsessing over your kids' happiness doom them to an unhappy adulthood?

Parents these days seem obsessed with keeping their kids happy, constantly feeling the need to prevent them from experiencing disappointment. What effect does this have on kids?

During her training to become a therapist, writer Lori Gottlieb noticed that many young adults were seeking therapy despite having "perfectly happy" childhoods. This led her to conclude that by keeping our children from feeling doubt and defeat when they're young, we're preventing them from being able to find their own way as adults.

Gottlieb joins Kiran Chetry this morning to discuss this phenomenon, detailed in her new article in The Atlantic, "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy."


Filed under: Parenting
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. danyfantombeast

    I the problem is obsessing over their short-term happiness.

    I think so many people wish they were children again because they were so ill-equipped to deal with adulthood. It's like a prolonged comfortable womb in which they weren't developing healthily.

    June 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  2. Barbara Kelley

    As a college prof, I think Gottleib’s piece provides a sensible wake-up call for uber-parents who do too much for their children, all in the interests of making them “happy” and protecting them from failure. In our new book, “Undecided: How to Ditch the Endless Quest for Perfect and Find the Career — and Life — That’s Right for you” we focus on the second half of that equation: the results of that kind of over-parenting on today’s women: analysis paralysis, second-guessing and grass-is greener syndrome. It’s a generational malise, this pervasive sense of dissatisfaction and overwhelm, the feeling that no matter what they choose in terms of their life path, it is never enough.
    Of course, it’s not just well-meaning parents that are to blame: It’s societal norms and workplace cultures, too, that have not yet caught up to the new reality that women now make up over half of the workplace. More here: http://undecidedthebook.wordpress.com/

    June 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  3. Sheri Noga MA

    As a psychotherapist in practice for over 30 years, I have watched the deterioration of children's mental states in the last 10 – 15 years. These observations are supported by research and compelled me to write a book about over-indulgent parenting. This is not simply another example of "Parents can't do anything right" – Giving children everything while expecting little of them is a formula for creating an adult who can't cope with real life. These problems are very real and serious. Parents need to educate themselves.

    Sheri Noga MA
    Author of "Have the Guts to Do it Right: Raising Grateful and Responsible Children in an Era of Indulgence"
    http://www.grateful-child.com

    June 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm |