Welcome to my blog where I will post commentary on issues ranging from fiction to public policy. Tucked away in the Idea Boxes are “how to” tips on a variety of projects that have become part of our family’s culture over the years. I hope you’ll find some useful ideas there. My blog will take you through the fantastic journey of writing and publishing fiction, as well as commentary on politics, cultural trends, book reviews and family.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Meritocratic Parenting

In yesterday’s New York Times, David Brooks writes about “Love and Merit” in a column describing child-rearing in the 21st century.

Brooks talks about two essential features of parenting today:  unprecedented praise and unprecedented “honing.”  He seems to be okay with the first part, in spite of the overused mantra that each child is special.

But he sees today’s anxious parental pressure as a kind of merit-based honing for success that belies the illusion of unconditional love.  Acknowledging that this pressure is intended to promote the child’s happiness in the future, Brooks fears that children who don’t excel in the classroom or on the field are left feeling somehow unworthy and perhaps unlovable.  And while manipulation of behavior may bring short-term results, the effect over the long run makes children risk-averse and insecure.

It wasn’t all that much different back when we were raising children.  But in today’s winner-takes-all economy, parents are more anxious than ever about whether their children could fall through the cracks.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the effort to manipulate children towards success runs the risk of doing more harm than good in the long run.