There was a time when raising the next generation was a “seat of the pants” operation—literally and figuratively. Intuition was the basis for most parental moves, with someone’s mother or a trusted neighbor the closest child-rearing expert. Parents wanted the best for their children, but understood the best was by no means a given; the future was, after all, not entirely in their own hands.
These days, however, a mother or father can hardly make a move without running headlong into a talk show, lecture series, or shelf of books brimming with advice on how to ensure a child’s place in the up-and-coming generation. Says Barbara Katz, writing in Parents magazine, “professional parents” are downright driven to cultivate their children’s abilities and college-bound resumes—superparents raising superkids. Armed with expert advice, they view parenting less as an instinctive process than a quantifiable set of do’s and don’ts, which, if applied properly, can transform any child into a runner by three, a reader by four, a writer by five.
To be sure, the findings of child psychologists over the past century have proved a blessing in helping frustrated parents better understand their particular “kid under construction.” And yet a question harried parents should be asking themselves is what this infatuation with the “quantification of child-rearing” might be saying about our relationship to the growing next generation—not to mention our relationship to God.
Parenting has never been easy. But according to David Elkind, author of the ground-breaking book The Hurried Child, not since the Great Depression have American moms and ...1
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