Description: What is up with kids these days? Ok, I know, an old question asked over and over generation by generation. But what about parents? Quick, without asking any other adults what they think answer these questions? What is the main goal of parenting these days? Is part of it that parents should be working towards making their children happy? Why or why not? Ok, now you can ask a couple of other adults (of largely different ages) to see if the answers they give are different or similar to yours. Can you see any ways in which being a parent these days is perhaps different than it was in previous generations? Now have a read through the interview with Dr. Becky and see what she suggests (oh, and have a close look at the marginal notes that describe recent research findings on these questions).
Source: Dr. Becky Doesn’t Think the Goal of Parenting Is to Make Your Kid Happy, Talk, The New York Times Magazine.
Date: November 14, 2021
So, does the notion of being a “Good Enough” parent sounds reasonable, or does it sound like a description of a sub-optimal form of parenting? If you lean towards the latter interpretation, how do you square that with the consistent finding that depression and anxiety rates and levels among children and young adults are significantly higher these days compared to previous generations? In the face of the mountain of parenting and related self-help books and websites aimed at helping parents to critique and improve their parenting mojo perhaps considering work by researchers like Michael Unger who points out that the self-help juggernaut has, over recent years, consistently sharpened its focus on within-individual causes and reasons for sub-optimal living, growth and wellbeing. Unger suggests we need to balance and perhaps even rolling back this individual focus with a look at the circumstances, situations, and the worlds in which people are living today. It may be that some of how to better parent (support) developing children might involve less of a focus on happiness (as Dr. Becky suggests) and more of a focus on adjusting the environments (the worlds) to which children are adapting.
Questions for Discussion:
- How might a focus on children’s happiness be different than how parents used to go about raising their children?
- How might it be that there has been, in recent years, an increase in time with and attention paid to children by their parents while at the same time there has been an increase in child, teen, and emerging adult levels of anxiety and depression?
- Based on the issues discussed in the linked interview/article what advice or guidance would you offer to new parents about how to take up the parenting tasks and responsibilities?
References (Read Further):
Hoghughi, M., & Speight, A. N. P. (1998). Good enough parenting for all children—a strategy for a healthier society. Archives of disease in childhood, 78(4), 293-296. Link
Armstrong, M. I., Birnie-Lefcovitch, S., & Ungar, M. T. (2005). Pathways between social support, family well being, quality of parenting, and child resilience: What we know. Journal of child and family studies, 14(2), 269-281. Link
Ungar, M., Ghazinour, M., & Richter, J. (2013). Annual research review: What is resilience within the social ecology of human development?. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 54(4), 348-366. Link
Ungar, M. (2012). Social ecologies and their contribution to resilience. In The social ecology of resilience (pp. 13-31). Springer, New York, NY. Link
Guryan, J., Hurst, E., & Kearney, M. (2008). Parental education and parental time with children. Journal of Economic perspectives, 22(3), 23-46. Link
Amirah, S. 6 Things Children Shouldn’t Be Responsible For. Link
Craig, L., Powell, A., & Smyth, C. (2014). Towards intensive parenting? Changes in the composition and determinants of mothers’ and fathers’ time with children 1992–2006. The British journal of sociology, 65(3), 555-579. Link
Long, N. (2004). The changing nature of parenting in America. Pediatric Dentistry, 26(2), 121-124. Link